Maryland Woman Pleads Guilty to Animal Cruelty; Ordered to Pay $67,000

Carol Badart VanWie Credit: Calvert County Sheriff’s Office

LUSBY, Md. — Carol Badart VanWie, 77, entered a guilty plea on multiple charges of animal cruelty on Monday, August 15, 2023, at the Calvert County District Court, highlighting concerns over the inhumane treatment of animals within the state.

VanWie was found guilty of housing over 40 rabbits and other creatures in deplorable conditions at her nonprofit organization, Bunny Magic and Wildlife Rabbit Rescue, in Lusby, Maryland. The conviction underscored the grim reality of animal abuse and sparked conversations about regulations and oversight for animal rescue organizations.

As part of her sentence, VanWie was given a suspended jail term, placed on probation, and strictly ordered not to possess any animals. In addition to the legal penalties, she was required to reimburse Calvert County a significant sum of $67,000 for caring for and feeding the animals seized from her property.

Calvert County State’s Attorney Robert Harvey expressed gratitude to those involved in the case, stating, “I wish to commend Senior Assistant State’s Attorney Christopher J. Monte for his handling of this case.” The prosecution’s credit also went to Officer Allison Higgs of the Maryland Natural Resources Police, who initially investigated the case and brought charges against Ms. VanWie.

The case began with Officer Higgs’ investigation into the conditions at Bunny Magic and Wildlife Rabbit Rescue, revealing the unsanitary and inhumane environment that the animals were subjected to. The findings prompted immediate legal action and resulted in the confiscation of the animals, ultimately leading to VanWie’s conviction.

The $67,000 reimbursement to Calvert County will cover the costs incurred in caring for and feeding the animals following their removal from VanWie’s property. The ruling sends a clear message about Maryland’s stance on animal welfare and the stringent actions against those violating the state’s animal cruelty laws.

Animal rights advocates and local community members have reacted with mixed feelings to the verdict, appreciating the legal action but concerned about the ongoing oversight and regulation of similar nonprofit ventures. The case brings attention to the vital need for clear guidelines and consistent enforcement to prevent such incidents of cruelty from going unnoticed.

The case of Carol Badart VanWie raises essential questions about the responsibility and ethics surrounding animal care and rescue operations. It serves as a stark reminder that, despite good intentions, a robust system must be in place to ensure that animals are treated with respect and dignity.