WARNING – GRAPHIC CONTENT: Two dogs and a cat abandoned in an apartment survived by drinking water from the toilet bowl, with one animal so desperate to get out and find food it lost a claw while trying to open the door.
A horrendous smell coming from the home was what prompted neighbours to realise there was a problem.
They contacted animal charity Arme Socken, which means “Poor Socks”, who raised the alarm with police in the German city of Dortmund, in the western North Rhine-Westphalia region.
“We contacted the police after getting a call from the neighbours, and confirmed that there was a terrible smell coming from the flat. You would only know that there were dogs inside because you could hear them grunting through the open windows,” Arme Socken spokesperson Veronica Bugenholz told news agency Newsflash.
“When the police officers arrived, they confirmed that there was clearly something wrong judging by the smell, and so they broke into the flat where we were instantly hit by the terrible stench.
“Inside there were two dogs... and one cat. They were in a terrible condition, it looked as if they hadn't had any food for weeks. We suspect they were drinking water from the toilet bowl because there was no food inside, and no water.
"The poor animals were so desperate to survive, that the dogs had tried to rip through the door, which showed signs of damage, and is probably where one of them managed to have its claws torn off, it was so desperate to get out.
"The neighbours said that the young couple, who were jobless, rather than clearing the flat up, decided to leave and simply move out to live with relatives, leaving the dogs and the cat behind.”
Ms Bugenholz said the animals had been taken to a “private house” to be cared for.
She added the organisation was planning to make a court application to take the pets away from their current owners so they can put up for adoption.
“In the meantime, they are getting medication and treatment."
Police spokesman Peter Bandermann said in a statement his colleagues “had the apartment opened with a second key”.
“In the heavily littered and dirty apartment, they discovered two emaciated French bulldogs and one emaciated cat. There were no food bowls or water bowls anywhere,” he said.
The dogs had even gnawed through wooden doors in the apartment to try and get into different rooms in the hope of finding food.
The two dogs were believed to have been used for producing puppies, Ms Bugenholz said.
Police have filed a complaint against the owners for violating animal protection laws.
Do you have a story tip? Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.