A man who bought cats online to use as live bait for his dogs to kill has been jailed.
Mark Cuthbert organised animal fights at his home in South Ayrshire, a court heard.
The 42-year-old used the selling website Gumtree to purchase the cats – with many owners believing their animals were going to a safe home.
During a Scottish SCPA investigation, officers raided Cuthbert’s home and discovered his pets were suffering injuries consistent with animal fighting.
They also suspected he had been self-medicating his dogs to avoid drawing attention to his illegal activities.
Investigators seized an electronic device which contained video and images of animal fights. The clips included Cuthbert’s dogs killing badgers and domestic cats.
Objects in the footage matched animal fighting paraphernalia discovered at his home. Among the items seized were tracking collars, nets, live animal traps, syringes, superglue and pet carriers.
The dogs used in the fights included a black and white patterdale terrier, Billy, and two brown bitch patterdale terriers called Digger and Tally.
Cuthbert pleaded guilty to keeping and training dogs for the purpose of animal fighting and killing a cat.
He was sentenced to ten months in prison at Ayr Sheriff Court on Wednesday.
A Scottish SPCA undercover officer said: “This is a truly horrific case of animal cruelty, where we suspect dozens of animals have suffered mentally and physically at the hands of Mark Cuthbert. His inhumane treatment of animals is completely unacceptable.”
“We investigate reports of animal fights every week and the imagery and videos we discovered on his phone are some of the most depraved and upsetting we have seen.
“One harrowing video shows the three dogs attacking a domestic cat in a field which is fighting for its life. It’s clear the cat was caused horrendous suffering and many of the cats he purchased will have suffered long, torturous deaths.
“Cuthbert had been picking up the cats for his dogs to attack from the online selling site, Gumtree.
“After contacting Gumtree, we found correspondence between Cuthbert and people who had listed their cats on the site which led us to believe large numbers of cats were uplifted from pet owners who trusted their cats were going to a good, safe home.
“As well as the cats he purchased under false pretence, his own dogs have been treated appallingly. When we visited Cuthbert, two of his dogs had very obvious facial injuries and scars to the face, nose and jaw. Digger had a healed injury to the lower lip which had caused a v-shaped deformity and Billy was very aggressive when approached.
“If you are using an online service to find a new home for, or sell, your pet, please be vigilant and ensure your pet is going to a safe environment. If you are suspicious, do not continue with the sale and notify the Scottish SPCA as soon as possible.”