TWO groups of rabbits were discovered after being dumped on the roadside on World Bunny Day.

Five of the 12 badly neglected rabbits were found on Gropers Lane near Ipplepen on September 23. The other seven were discovered shortly after on Maddacombe Road.

Animals in Distress were tipped off via a phone call. Debbie Hands, Rabbit and Guinea Pig Manager at the centre said: "The rabbits were starving and dehydrated, emaciated, soaking wet, covered in excrement and very smelly.

"They were so thirsty that they immediately drank a whole big bowl of water and didn’t stop eating all day.

"They are super-friendly so were obviously at one time, someone’s beloved pets."

Matt Goldsmith, co-owner of Palin and Way Pet Supplies, said a customer had contacted him after discovering seven rabbits at the side of the road. They caught the rabbits and brought them to Palin and Way Pet Supplies, where they temporarily took care of the beautiful, giant breed rabbits.

Matt said: "We’ve been totally overwhelmed by our customers’ and followers’ heartfelt generosity in donating supplies and food for us to temporarily house the bunnies."

The rabbits are currently at the Animals in Distress shelter in Newton Abbot and have settled in and are all doing well. They will be available for adoption once they have finished their quarantine period, been neutered, and fully vaccinated and signed off the vet as well enough to go to new homes.

Rowana Rowan, Communications Co-ordinator at Animals in Distress said: "It’s really important for people to understand that domestic pets do not survive if they are dumped in the wild.

"Being domesticated they have lost all their survival skills and will starve or be predated. We strongly urge people never to dump their pets in this way."