As the media circus continued to swirl around Brendan McMahon's rabbit-molestation trial, the president of the Australian Companion Rabbit Society called for a law or policy that would require pet stores to be more vigilant with regard to men who buy rabbits with intent to molest them.
Maybe I should back up for a second.
Brendan Francis McMahon, formerly a finance executive in New Zealand, was arrested in August and charged with one count of bestiality with a rabbit and 18 counts of aggravated cruelty involving rabbits and a guinea pig. The arrest came after a three-week surveillance operation to collect evidence that McMahon was, um, mistreating the rodents. McMahon was arraigned but released without bail, which prompted the ACRS president to speak out.
"I would be very surprised if he was not out there in pet shops looking for victims in about ten minutes," said Lara Nettle, ACRS president. She begged pet shop owners to be on the lookout. McMahon has admitted to a drug addiction but Nettle expressed doubt that drugs were solely to blame. "It didn't happen overnight," she said. "You don't take a drug and go 'Mmm, rabbits.'"
Nettle called for all Australian pet shops to be required to follow the lead of one shop in Sydney (described as having been "central to the investigation"), which has introduced a policy requiring men purchasing rabbits to show identification and fill out ownership papers. "I applaud that shop," said Nettle, noting that under current law "[n]obody raises their eyebrows when a man buys three rabbits at a time and then comes back a week later for three more." To be fair to the shop owners, it does seem that maybe the possibility of rabbit-molestation would not immediately have entered their minds based only on multiple purchases. And apparently it did not -- the report stated that McMahon was put under surveillance only after pet shop staff noticed he had marks "consistent with rabbit scratches" on his face.
McMahon is due back in court on November 10.
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