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The RSPCA is appealing for information after a blind baby guinea pig was abandoned in a cardboard box inside a carrier bag on top of a wheelie bin.
The young creature was saved from the jaws of a rubbish lorry after a householder had the foresight to look into the box before dumping it in her bin, discovering the black white and ginger animal.
The box which previously contained a BT telephone and answer machine was found at 6.30pm on Sunday 21 November on top of a wheelie bin outside a house in Radcliffe Road, Southampton.
A householder was putting out their rubbish when they spotted the box on top of their bin and luckily they thought to look inside before dropping it into the refuse.
The guinea pig was collected by RSPCA animal welfare officer Sue Brooks and taken to a local vet for an examination.
The animal was found to have a shrunken right eye and little vision in her left eye. It is thought the eye problems are probably birth defects possibly as a result of her being undernourished whilst still in the womb, suggesting her mother may not have been adequately fed when she was pregnant.
The box containing the creature had a cardboard sign which read: "His name is Fred. Please take care of it thank you :)." However, the young guinea pig, who is approximately four months old, is actually female.
RSPCA officer Sue Brooks, who is investigating, said:
"This poor creature had a very lucky escape. Had someone not thought to look in the box before putting it inside a bin she could easily have been thrown in the back of a rubbish lorry and been crushed in its metal jaws.
"There is never an excuse for abandoning an animal in this way and I would urge anyone with information about this animal to contact the RSPCA so we can ensure there are no other animals in the home which are not being properly cared for."
The BT phone box in the picture may provide some clues as to who is responsible and attempts are being made by the RSPCA to trace the serial number on the box.
Despite her ordeal, the young creature, which has been named Beattie by RSPCA staff is eating well and does not seem to mind being handled. She is currently being cared for at the RSPCA Ashley Heath animal centre near Ringwood but is not yet ready for rehoming.
Anyone with information about this guinea pig is urged to contact the RSPCA cruelty and information line on 0300 1234 999 and leave a message for AWO Brooks. Calls are in confidence.