THREE abandoned cockerels were lucky not to die after being dumped in a box next to a bin.
Cheltenham Animal Shelter has taken in the young birds, which are all less than a year old, and is now trying to find them a new home.
They were stuffed into a blue plastic crate used by the NHS for delivering medical equipment and abandoned next to a wheelie bin outside a woman's home in St Paul's.
The birds were able to breathe inside the box, but were very distressed when the woman found them. She contacted the shelter in Gardner's Lane and staff there collected the birds.
Shelter fundraising manager Deborah Barron believes whoever dumped the cockerels had thought they were female birds when they bought them.
She said: "It's very lucky that the lady came across the cockerels outside her home, because they would have starved to death inside that box.
"Unfortunately, people will go out and buy chickens not knowing what sex they are, and then when they start crowing they realise they are male and want to get rid of them."
She added: "But dumping them like this is terrible.
"To just leave them in a crate, next to a bin, is very cruel."
Staff at the shelter have named the three cockerels Fetcher, Mr Tweedy and Rocky Rhodes, after the characters in the animated film Chicken Run.
Miss Barron says they are looking for a long-term home for the birds where they will be safe from foxes.
She said: "We are looking for anyone who lives in a rural or semi-rural location who can offer them a forever home.
"Obviously they would be happy living with some hens."
The shelter is caring for 38 dogs, 42 cats, 10 rabbits and two guinea pigs, as well as the cockerels.
Around 1,000 animals are cared for at the shelter each year.
The registered charity is always on the lookout for help with fundraising.
If you can help, or you are interested in adopting the cockerels, call the shelter on 01242 523521.