The BC SPCA has seized 50 rabbits that were being raised for meat living in “deplorable” conditions on a property outside Nanaimo.

Following a complaint about animals living in distress, investigators found dozens of rabbits stacked in small cages littered with feces, many with inadequate ventilation and barely any food or water. The property was strewn with garbage and debris.

“Animals were living next to deceased animals… horrible conditions. Many of them were underweight. Others had overgrown nails that were curled and coiled and dental issues,” Protection Officer Tina Heary told CTV Vancouver Island.

It’s the largest rabbit cruelty investigation in Nanaimo history, and the agency says the owners failed to comply with orders to relieve the distress of the animals.

The animal welfare agency is recommending charges of animal cruelty against the owners.

“Photos taken by staff were so appalling that the public would not want to see them,” Heary told CTV News.

Investigators believe the animals were being raised for meat, and show.

The rabbits, along with one small-breed female toy poodle “in dire need of medical attention,” were transported to the Nanaimo shelter for treatment on April 17. Heary said the owners had been given a recommendation to take the dog to the vet, but they never did.

The incoming animals overwhelmed the small shelter, which normally would only house one or two rabbits. To lessen the load, 14 were transferred to other SPCA agencies, and another 14 will be moved Wednesday.

Spared from certain death, the furry critters would make great family pets, Leon Davis of the Nanaimo SPCA said.

“The majority of them are at the point that they’re ready to be adopted out, so we’re hoping folks come down and have a look at them and hopefully open their hearts and homes to a rabbit in need,” he said.

Each rabbit will be spayed or neutered and microchipped before they are adopted out, to ensure they don’t breed.

The non-profit agency is hoping donations from the public will help with the mounting vet bills to treat the animals.