A WOMAN who left her pet rabbit to starve to death and whose dog suffered with an untreated skin condition has been banned from keeping animals for life.

Jodie Wardil, 27, from Wallasey, pleaded guilty to two counts of causing unnecessary suffering to both pets between August 23 and September 6, 2018, and one of failing to meet their needs when she appeared at Wirral Magistrates' Court.

RSPCA inspector Anthony Joynes was called to Wardil's address after receiving reports of concerns about a dog being left alone in the property.

Inspector Joynes went to investigate, but there was no-one at the house, so he left a card with his telephone number on.

Wardil made contact that night and said she was unable to cope with the dog and wanted to sign it over to RSPCA care

Inspector Joynes returned following day and found her Staffordshire bull terrier dog, Buster, had red inflamed skin around his back due to a flea infestation and self-induced trauma from him trying to scratch which caused an infection.

While at her home he asked about a rabbit she owned but she said her ex-partner had taken it the previous day and the pet was in good health.

The court was told that as Inspector Joynes went to collect paperwork from his van a member of the public said they had seen Wardil throwing, what they believed to be, a dead rabbit in the wheelie bin at the front of the house.

Following a search, the emaciated body of a male rabbit called Annie was recovered.

Wardil then admitted the pet had died in her care and a subsequent medical examination of his body found he weighed just 1kg when his expected weight would have been 2.5kg.

A vet said Annie had suffered from malnutrition and it would have taken several weeks of not being fed properly to drop to such a weight.

He was also found to have had a chronic eye injury which had been left untreated.

Inspector Joynes said: "The poor rabbit was literally skin and bones - the muscles had wasted away.

"It is tragic to think that he was left in a small cage and forgotten about while he slowly died from having no food and water.

"Wardil said she was staying elsewhere at the time and would come back intermittently and I think while Buster could make himself known to her and would then be fed the rabbit could not and was left to die slowly.

"Rabbits are sociable animals. It is awful to think it was completely forgotten about in a cage."

Buster was cared for by the RSPCA Macclesfield branch and has since gone on to be re-homed.

In mitigation the court heard how Wardil had suffered a family bereavement and was struggling to cope.

As well as the life-ban Wardil was ordered to undertake an 18-month community order and pay a total of £585 in costs and fines.

Inspector Joynes added: "I am just incredibly grateful to members of the public who report such matters to us so we can investigate."