A MAN and woman from Ellesmere Port have been banned from keeping animals for 10 years after they left their rabbit to starve to death.

Clive Bird, 50 and Samantha Bird, 43, of Lime Street, were each given a 12-week prison sentence, suspended for a year, when they appeared at Chester Magistrates' Court today, Friday, having previously pleaded guilty to causing unnecessary suffering.

They were also given a 12-month community order, including 120 hours of unpaid work each and ordered to each pay £900 in costs.

The body of the emaciated rabbit was found lying on his side in a hutch in their garden in February. His four feet, abdominal and groin areas were matted with urine and faeces. It had been left for four weeks without food.

RSPCA Inspector Anthony Joynes said: “There was no clean or dry area for the rabbit to have rested, nor was there any food provided. There was no sign of dental issues so we believe the rabbit would have suffered for at least four weeks before succumbing to starvation and effects of the cold.

“There was ample food and bedding available for the rabbit just yards away from the hutch so they could have easily cared for the rabbit but did not.

“I feel that rabbits are the most neglected animal we deal with, mainly because it is relatively easy to do it without being detected. People who starve animals because they are ‘out of sight, out of mind’ is not acceptable.

“This rabbit has essentially been incarcerated in his own faeces without the absolute necessities required to sustain life. This sort of failure and abhorrent neglect should not go unanswered.”