A WOMAN has been banned from keeping animals for five years after her two pigs starved to death.

Nicola Patten, 49, left the pot-bellied pigs in “appalling conditions” without shelter, bedding or food nearby, the RSPCA said.

RSPCA inspector Andrew Kirby described the case as “heartbreaking” which led to “serious neglect and much suffering for these poor animals”.

A member of the public called in the animal welfare inspectors after being concerned about the condition of the animals next to the previous home of Pattern, currently of Court Lodge Close, Hailsham.

One pig was already dead by the time inspectors had arrived in Western Road, also in Hailsham, while the other had collapsed, an RSCPA spokesman said.

She added: “There was no shelter, bedding, food or water nearby. Both animals were taken to a vet who described them both as emaciated, and advised the second be put to sleep to end his suffering. Post mortems of the bodies found there was no food in the pigs’ stomachs at all.”

The RSPCA prosecuted Patten, who was found guilty in her absence in June of causing unnecessary suffering to two male pot-bellied pigs by failing to investigate their underweight conditions and provide them with a suitable environment.

Sentencing on Wednesday, Hastings magistrates ordered her to do 160 hours’ of unpaid work, pay £250 costs, and abide by a 12-month supervision order.

Mr Kirby added: “It was as if these pigs were just completely forgotten about and left to starve to death in a cold alleyway without any of the comforts they needed to survive.

“They were in appalling condition when we found them, and must have been suffering for a prolonged length of time.”

The RSPCA said pigs are highly intelligent, social animals who prefer to be in the company of other pigs.

A spokesman added: “They need to be given the right care and not kept inside a person’s house and also need to be treated by a vet who is knowledgeable about the breed.

“They need plenty of space outside and things to occupy them as well as a suitable shelter.”