The president of a sanctuary in Minnesota has been charged with animal cruelty and torture after nearly 50 rabbits were found dead in a barn.
Stephanie Smith, 51, of Bloomington, was arrested after police contacted the owner of the barn in Savage, a suburb outside Minneapolis, who said it had been leased to the Peacebunny Foundation.
Scores of loose rabbits, one with a broken back and another infested with maggots, were discovered by police at the site, dubbed Peacebunny Cottage, in late June.
The injured animals were euthanised immediately due to "irremediable suffering".
Other rabbits had burrowed into manure in the faeces-covered barn, while many were found in their cages without food or water.
A criminal complaint said the carcasses of 47 dead rabbits, among them 16 babies, were strewn across the barn, while corpses and decomposing body parts were found under plywood floorboards.
Ms Smith told police the animals' condition was "not appropriate" but claimed another group were due to collect the animals.
Investigators said it was clear the cruelty "did not occur overnight" and described babies as "so tiny" they could escape through the metal of their enclosures.
"Some dishes were too big for these little bunnies to drink from and one almost fell into the bowl trying desperately to drink," said a search warrant filed in Scott County.
The foundation, owned by Smith's 18-year-old son Caleb, said in a statement on Saturday that it was ceasing all activities and would no longer accept new rabbits or donations.
The charity also said it would not spend donors’ money on Ms Smith's legal fees.
The Animal Humane Society is caring for around 200 rabbits discovered at the site.
Authorities were alerted after the barn's owner checked the outhouse when she had not heard from Ms Smith in several days and found dozens of dead, sick and injured rabbits.
Ms Smith's son Caleb has won plaudits for his work with the non-profit rabbit rescue foundation which, according to its website, cares for and trains comfort rabbits.
He has been featured in media coverage of the foundation and written a book that describes him as "a boy who is changing the world through kindness, one bunny at a time".
Ms Smith is due to appear in court on August 22. She faces four years behind bars and a fine of £11,000 ($13,000).