An RSPCA inspector has described seeing an emaciated Jack Russell holding what she thought was a toy - and realising it was the remains of another dog which had starved to death.
Nala, a female, and Simba, a male, were left alone in a house for more than a month without proper food and water but appeared to have been desperately trying to reach a bag of dog biscuits that had been left out on a worktop.
RSPCA inspector Lorna Campbell was called to the property by a concerned member of the public and said she thought she could see a chewed-up dog toy through the window, but soon realised it was the remains of Nala.
Shane Maurice Potts, of Lower Lane in High Peak, Derbyshire, appeared at Buxton Magistrates' Court on Tuesday and admitted causing unnecessary suffering to the two dogs under the Animal Welfare Act 2006.
Potts, 29, admitted between February 29 and March 31, at an address on Buxton Road in Furness Vale, Derbyshire, causing unnecessary suffering to Nala and Simba by failing to provide proper and necessary care and supervision, resulting in Simba becoming dehydrated and emaciated and the death of Nala.
He also admitted a second count of causing unnecessary suffering to the two dogs by failing to provide an adequate diet including the provision of fresh drinking water.
Describing the horrific moment she discovered the two dogs, Ms Campbell said: "When I saw Simba at the window it was obvious he was emaciated and when I looked in I saw what I thought was a toy he'd chewed up.
"It took a moment before I realised the full horror of what it actually was, the remains of Nala. It was devastating."
The RSPCA had offered advice to Potts in July last year, given him neutering vouchers and re-homed a third dog that he had at the time.
He and his children had moved in to his mother's house in Chapel-en-le-Frith, where he had also taken another female Jack Russell that he said did not get on with the others, the organisation said.
She was signed over to the RSPCA and re-homed.
Potts had not been back to the property on Buxton Road for more than four weeks.
Ms Campbell said Simba's survival was a "miracle".
He was so thirsty when inspectors got into the house that he raced past them to try and drink from a bowl of dirty water in the garden that had cigarette butts floating in it.
"The conditions in the house were terrible," she said.
"The place was covered in faeces and the floor was slippery with urine.
"There was a shredded dog food bag on the floor, an empty tub of gravy granules and chewed towels and of course what was left of his companion.
"Tragically, there was a bag of dog biscuits on the worktop which it looked as though the dogs had been trying to reach but it was just too high."
Potts' solicitor told the court he was finding it difficult to manage his responsibilities and had moved in with his mother to help, the RSPCA said.
He is due to appear at Buxton Magistrates' Court on August 21 for sentencing.
After being signed over to the RSPCA, Simba has recovered and has been happily re-homed.