AN appeal has been launched to track down the owner of a rabbit and a kitten that were dumped by the side of a busy main road.

The animals were found inside two boxes that were stacked on top of each other in a lay-by on the A66 near Sadberge, near Darlington.

The white boxes were found at about 2.40pm on Friday, February 8 and were sealed with white tape with the words ‘Britannia International’ printed on the side. One also had the word ‘kitchen’ handwritten on it.

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RSPCA inspector Emma Stainthorpe said: “I opened the first box to find a small black and white female rabbit. She was thin but otherwise in good bodily condition.

“The second box contained a female Tortoiseshell coloured kitten, aged around eight weeks old. She was thin and inundated with fleas and ear mites and very distressed.”

Both animals were taken to a local vets and are now in the care of the RSPCA.

Insp Stainthorpe said: “It wasn’t obvious what was in these boxes. They were sealed shut and the animals couldn’t have escaped.

“It was cold and raining and they had no food, water or bedding. It’s extremely lucky they were found when they were or they would have died there, plain and simple.

“Whoever dumped these animals had a rabbit and a kitten just a few days ago. We’re urging anyone who knows who that person is to get in touch.”

Anyone with any information is asked to call the RSPCA cruelty line on 0300-123-4999 and ask to leave a message for Inspector Stainthorpe.

The appeal comes just days after a 15-week-old Lurcher puppy was found dead inside a bag on the edge of the pond at Brinkburn Nature Reserve, while another was found in Quaker Lane in such an emaciated state it had to be put down by a vet.

The puppy found in the lake could have been dumped several hours before it was found at about 4pm on Monday, February 11 so anyone who saw anybody with a large holdall acting suspiciously in the area at that time is asked to call the RSPCA on 0300-123-4999 and ask for Inspector Lucy Hoehne.