But here's where we stand now: 17 of the 18 rabbits were returned to farmer and teacher Levi Cole today by the Portland police, after days of negotiations between Cole and a go-between agency called Rabbit Advocates.
The police issued a highly formal announcement of this victory: "Today, Friday January 13, 2012, Portland Police Bureau detectives helped facilitate the return of several stolen rabbits to their rightful owner."
But one rabbit remains at large. His name is Roger. Yes. Roger Rabbit is still missing.
The hostage negotiations for Roger continue apace, according to a blog at the Portland Meat Collective: "Roger's name is tattooed on the inside of his ear. The individual who took Roger in has had her lawyer contact Levi Cole. Both parties are currently in negotiations regarding the return of the final stolen rabbit."
Portland Meat Collective owner Camas Davis tells WW that Roger is a breeder rabbit, and not due to be slaughtered. But the woman who has Roger does not want to give him back.
"This woman already owns a good number of rabbits," Davis says. "This is not her first rabbit. But she claims she's grown attached to the rabbit."
Davis explained on her blog this afternoon how the handoff of the other 17 rabbits went down.
For the past week we have been in the process of negotiating with Rabbit Advocates and their lawyer over the return of the rabbits to their rightful ownerâas anyone in possession of the rabbits was in possession of stolen property. Today, at noon, we picked up 17 of the 18 rabbits from their lawyerâs office. Eight of the Rabbit Advocate members who took in the rabbits showed up to express their concern about the rabbits, and to also express that they had become attached to the rabbits.
This exchange took place at the offices of animal rights lawyer Geordie Duckler, Davis tells WW. "Appparently, eight of the people who took in our rabbits showed up in purple T-shirts," she says. "They were all women."
They wanted to know whether the rabbits would be treated well, and Cole's business partner Chris Lawson assured them "assured them that they are going to be taken care of," Davis says. "They are going to be used for meat. Levi and Chris eat most of them themselves."
Meanwhile, the nine infant rabbits left behind in the liberation died pretty much immediately, unable to nurse.
UPDATE, 4:15 pm: The Portland Police Bureau has issued a description of Roger the missing rabbit. "Roger is described as small, gray and fury [sic]."
UPDATE, 4:40 pm: The PPB makes a correction: "Roger is described as small, gray and furry not fury.....he is anything but angry..."