KIEL, WI (WFRV) – A massive effort is underway to save hundreds of animals, many of them rabbits, on the lakeshore.

Even the most experienced Humane Society workers say there weren’t quite ready for what they saw in the home along Town Line Road near Lax Chapel Road in Kiel.

“We saw the photos, but we had no idea what we were walking into,” Tina Nichols of the Lakeshore Humane Society told Local 5 News. “One wall had 4 rows of kennels with rabbits in every kennel. So many that you couldn’t see the rabbits. It was so dark and so covered with feces and dirt that you had to get a flashlight to see if there was a rabbit in those kennels.”

Only Local 5 News was on the property when Sheriff’s deputies with Manitowoc County moved in with a search warrant to remove the animals from the property. Early estimates put the number upwards of 500. Many of them are rabbits.

“There are so many female rabbits with babies, with liters,” Nichols pointed out. “We have chicken, quail. We have 30 adult ducks and the biggest number are the rabbits.”

The humane society is relying on a donated space right now to clean and rehabilitate the animals.

Nichols says food alone will quickly deplete their resources. They’re hoping word reaches as many people as possible who would be willing to offer these rescues a new home.

From what the Human Society can tell, many of the rabbits were at one-time show rabbits.

But for reasons that are unclear, the animals became an addiction of sorts.

There was some food and water, but the owner just couldn’t see how bad things became.

“I’ve dealt with hoarding situations before and nothing of this magnitude,” said an exhausted Nichols. “I’ve dealt with dogs and cats in the range of 75 but nothing in the range of hundreds.”

The Lakeshore Humane Society is open 12 p.m.-6 p.m. The phone number is (920) 684-5401.

Deputies with the Manitowoc County Sheriff’s Office said the animal owners are cooperating with law enforcement.