Dead animals discovered in a river had been starved and then left to die, according to an animal charity.
More than 100 dead creatures, including cats, ducks and ferrets, were found dumped in the Cripps River, in Burnham-on-Sea, Somerset. Another five plastic bags containing the putrified bodies of chickens were discovered later.
Police started an investigation after the gruesome discovery on Friday by a motorist who had stopped at the side of the road for a driving break.
One kitten was found alive, along with five ferrets. They were taken to the Secret World wildlife rescue centre, in East Huntspill.
A new home has already been found for the cat, while the ferrets are expected to join the centre's ferret racing team.
Centre spokesman, Pauline Kidner, described the scene as "absolutely awful" and the worst she had seen in 20 years. "To see so many animals dumped and dead from starvation was really quite horrendous," she said.
"It was quite obvious they must have been shut up in a house," she continued, saying "they must have just tipped the whole lot out along by the river".
Avon and Somerset Police are trying to establish who the animals belonged to before their deaths.
Meanwhile, in Coventry, a woman who was caught on CCTV footage dropping a four-year-old cat, called Lola, into a wheelie bin, was put under police protection.
The middle-aged woman, identified by the RSPCA yesterday as Mary Bale, was seen petting the animal on camera, before looking around and picking the cat up by the scruff of the neck and putting her in a bin, before walking away. The cat was trapped for nearly 16 hours before she was discovered by her owners, Darryl and Stephanie Mann, in the bin outside their home.
Ms Bale has faced vitriol from animal rights campaigners after the footage circulated the internet and television news bulletins.
Police said the woman was due to be questioned by the RSPCA and that community support officers had been stationed outside her house for her safety.Reuse content