A Palm Coast ordinance doesn’t allow rabbits as pets, and that included Kritters Incorporated.
Joanne Smerdon started the nonprofit rescue group Kritters Incorporated four years ago out of her Palm Coast home, not knowing it was against city code to have pet rabbits in the city limits.
But, knowing bunnies are prolific breeders, Smerdon accepted some old cage units from the Flagler Humane Society when they updated theirs. By doing this she was able to keep the rabbits separated. Still, the numbers grew as people surrendered them to the organization.
Smerdon thinks it might have been a potential adopter who called Palm Coast Animal Control about the 49 rabbits and 11 guinea pigs she was providing a home for, though it could have been the cats.
“Palm Coast code enforcement has been working with me to relocate the rabbits,” she said. “They have been very nice. It was either I move or get a license for a kennel, and you can’t have a kennel in Palm Coast.”
According to Cindi Lane, spokeswoman for the city of Palm Coast, rabbits are considered farm animals and aren't supposed to be kept in Palm Coast.
“We don’t go into people’s houses looking for pets that aren’t allowed,” Lane said. “It’s when the animals become a nuisance, and then we are obligated to do something.”
Independently, the city and the Flagler Humane Society have been helping Smerdon relocate the animals. One rabbit was taken to the shelter, while the city has transported 32 rabbits and 11 guinea pigs to small animal rescue groups throughout the state. Guinea pigs are allowed as pets within the city limits.
Smerdon said once the animals are gone she expects to put in more volunteer hours at the Humane Society.
FHS Director Amy Carotenuto said counselors do refuse adoptions of farm animals such as goats and chickens to anyone living within Palm Coast, complying with the city's code.