Two men are facing charges after animal-control officers seized 45 ill and dying rabbits from a derelict city bus in a south-central industrial zone.

“This has been just devastating on our staff, very hard to deal with,” Edmonton Humane Society spokeswoman Shawna Randolph said yesterday.

EHS animal-protection peace officers discovered the animals on the old transit bus at 9620 – 27 Ave. on Nov. 10.

It’s alleged the rabbits were living in “deplorable conditions” in their own waste, some without food or water and most in very poor health.

“It was serious enough for us to lay charges under the Animal Protection Act,” Randolph said.

“In this case, the individual was not surrendering the animals to us and we had to seize them.”

Most of the animals were infected with snuffles, a highly infectious, untreatable disease found in rabbits.

The majority were humanely euthanized at the shelter, or died in care. Of the 45 rescued, eight survived.

Randolph said authorities may never have discovered the bus had it not been for a call from a tipster.

Officials don’t believe the rabbits were kept for breeding, but that pet rabbits multiplied until the population was out of control.

“This is the largest seizure of rabbits in the shelter’s history, going back over records from past years,” Randolph said.

“We think it’s a matter of someone getting in over their head with pets, unlike a puppy-mill situation.”

Three of the bunnies were adopted and one is in foster care. The remaining survivors, three female bunnies and one male, will all be ready for adoption by the week’s end.

William Lavery and Nathan Smith, both of Edmonton, each face four counts of animal distress and animal-care duties.