Pet rabbit Bugsy starved to death in ‘unbelievable cruelty’

How McPhail's pet rabbit, Bugsy, was found by RSPCA inspectors after he had been starved to death.
How McPhail's pet rabbit, Bugsy, was found by RSPCA inspectors after he had been starved to death.

A pet rabbit was starved and left to die in agony at Tibshelf after not being fed for a week in an act “of unbelievable cruelty”.

Now the owner, Gary McPhail, has been disqualified by a court from keeping animals for the next five years.

The cage in which Bugsy was kept at McPhail's home in Tibshelf.

The cage in which Bugsy was kept at McPhail's home in Tibshelf.

The RSPCA brought the case after discovering the grey rabbit, called Bugsy, dead in a cage at McPhail’s former home on Peveril Road.

RSPCA inspector Rachel Leafe, who led the investigation, said: “Rabbits have sensitive stomachs and going without food even for just 12 hours can cause them to suffer. The fact that Bugsy starved for a whole week would have been unbearable.

“It’s unbelievably cruel to simply leave an animal to slowly die in a cage without the care they need, and deserve, to survive.”

McPhail, who now lives in St Albans, pleaded guilty at Southern Derbyshire Magistrates Court to causing unnecessary suffering to Bugsy. As well as the five-year ban, he was ordered to pay £300 costs and an £85 victim surcharge.

Insp Leafe said: “McPhail was well aware that he wasn’t feeding the rabbit and knew that, as a result, Bugsy was suffering a great deal. He said that he could tell the rabbit wasn’t well because he wasn’t moving much.

“When I interviewed him about this, McPhail said he did not have any money to feed the rabbit. Yet he did not make any attempt to contact organisations for help. Instead he left Bugsy to starve to death.”

After the hearing, Insp Leage urged anyone thinking of keeping pet rabbits to carefully research what was needed to ensure they were looked after correctly.

She added: “Many people do not realise how complex it can be to keep rabbits happy and healthy. Owning them can be very rewarding, but it is a big responsibility and a long-term commitment in terms of care and cost.

“Anyone thinking of taking on rabbits should ensure they are able to meet all their welfare needs throughout their lives.”