A pair of Milford Haven teenagers have each been given a 12-month referral order, and banned from keeping animals, after admitting to a horrendous attack on a chicken.

The horrifying offence included hitting, clubbing and stabbing the chicken, and setting the helpless animal on fire.

The pair – who cannot be named for legal reasons - stole the chicken from a Milford Haven garden in Pembrokeshire, before subjecting the bird to the acts dubbed by a veterinary surgeon as "gratuitous torture". Sadly, the chicken has died.

Both appeared before Haverfordwest Magistrates’ Court, having pleaded guilty early to the Animal Welfare Act offence, namely causing the chicken to suffer unnecessarily.

The pair have been given a 12-month referral order, including the ‘Breaking the Chain’ programme, an RSPCA intervention initiative which explores and tackles issues surrounding young people and animal cruelty. Breaking the Chain was produced with the support of teachers and youth offending teams, and aims to nurture a sense of empathy in young people, and teach them to understand the impact of cruelty to animals.

In addition to the referral order, they were both banned from keeping all animals for a period of 12 months, and told to pay £200 in costs and a £20 surcharge.

RSPCA inspector Keith Hogben said: "This poor chicken was subject to the most horrendous treatment - taken, beaten, stabbed and set alight. I shudder to think what the poor animal went through.

“The offences were horrifying, and it is always deeply worrying when young people commit such crimes. They will now be subject to our Breaking the Chain programme - which highlights the impact acts like this have on animals and their welfare standards.

“RSPCA Cymru wants to inspire a future generation of animal ambassadors – who share our compassion and empathy for our fellow living creatures. Hopefully, this prosecution sets a clear statement that behaviours like this are totally unacceptable and will not be tolerated.”

The RSPCA say the “disgusting offences” committed by the young individuals highlight the importance of the charity's new Generation Kind scheme, the RSPCA’s ambitious new programme, teaching children empathy and respect for animals, with the aim of preventing cruelty and neglect in the future.

David Allen, RSPCA head of education, added: “Clearly, these were disgusting offences and it is particularly worrying that young people are committing such acts. Fortunately, we know most young people will be horrified by what happened in Milford Haven.

“Our new Generation Kind scheme brings together a series of initiatives – including those in the classroom, support for teachers, programmes to support vulnerable looked-after and disadvantaged young people, and those targeted at youth offenders.

“It is hoped that Generation Kind will help create a generation of individuals who are kind, compassionate and caring towards animals.”