A 31-YEAR-OLD man has been jailed for allowing his pet dog and cat to starve to death.

Blackburn magistrates heard the decomposed bodies of the animals were found by the incoming tenant at the flat previously occupied by Jamie Birtwistle.

They met as he left the flat and he told her not to look in the cupboard under the stairs.

Birtwistle, of Nuttall Street, Accrington, pleaded guilty to failing to ensure the welfare of a Staffordshire Bull Terrier called Bella and a cat called Storm by providing them with adequate food. He was jailed for 12 weeks.

Chris Wyatt, prosecuting for the RSPCA, said Sarah Elliot and her partner were moving into the flat in Bellfield Road and Birtwistle was moving out. They met on the doorstep and he said he still had some property inside.

“He advised her not to look in the cupboard under the stairs,” said Mr Wyatt.

“Miss Elliot started cleaning up and as you would expect she went into the cupboard under the stairs and found the bodies of a dog and a cat.”

Mr Wyatt said when he was interviewed Birtwistle said he had owned the dog for 10 months and the cat for a year.

He said they had been in good health until he split with his girlfriend in September 2016.

“He said he had been feeding them but not every day,” said Mr Wyatt.

“He admitted coming home and finding the dog dead on the sofa and a few days later he found the cat dead.”

Mr Wyatt said the cause of death was difficult to determine because the bodies were so badly decomposed.

An expert said death would occur once the animals had lost half their body weight.

“He said he didn’t completely deprive them of food which makes it difficult to estimate how long this had been going on and how long the animals were suffering for,” said Mr Wyatt.

Nick Dearing, defending, said his client had been 'totally inadequate' in looking after his pets.

“Following the breakdown of his relationship he started to drink,” said Mr Dearing.

“He was effectively slumped in his flat drinking himself into a stupor. From time to time he fed his pets and at others he forgot.”

Mr Dearing said his client accepted the neglect went on for a number of weeks.