Two guinea pigs were “left to die” in a ditch at the roadside in Co Down, an animal welfare charity has said.
The pets were discovered by a member of the public who was walking his dog in the Damolly Road area of Newry on Friday and alerted the USPCA.
The charity described the animals, which had been dumped in a bag for life, as being in a horrific state of neglect and severe pain.
They were treated by USPCA vets but had to be euthanised.
USPCA development manager Colleen Tinnelly said the guinea pigs had “clearly been neglected for a long time”.
“At this point, we are beyond words – we are absolutely appalled that someone left these poor animals suffering,” she said.
“They were essentially left to die at the roadside. We condemn the actions of the individual responsible – the animals had clearly been neglected for a long time, displaying severe skin infections and serious pain.
“To then leave them to fend for themselves is outrageous.
“Time and time again, we are unfortunately reminded of the fact that there are cruel, heartless individuals out there who do not care for the welfare of their animals.
“We plead with the public to always do their research before getting a pet – be that a dog, cat, or indeed a guinea pig.
“Each and every animal has its own set of intricate needs, and, unless you are able to meet these fully and give the animal the best life possible, do not even consider getting a pet.
“Following examination from our veterinary team, the two guinea pigs unfortunately had to be relieved of their suffering.
“All of this could have been avoided if their owner had carefully looked after them in the first instance. We are absolutely horrified.
“Thank you to the member of the public for bringing them into our care, rather than leaving them to a prolonged, horrible death at the side of the road.”