A Scottish man who bought cats online to use as bait for his dogs to attack and kill has been jailed.
Mark Cuthbert, from Ayr, has been sentenced to ten months in prison and given a ten-year ban from owning or keeping any animal following a Scottish SPCA investigation.
The 42-year-old pled guilty in Ayr Sheriff Court today to keeping dogs for the purpose of an animal fight.
Cuthbert used the online selling site Gumtree to buy cats for his dogs to kill.
He admitted to killing a cat at home and one at another premises.
The Scottish SPCA’s special investigations unit (SIU) received intelligence in March last year that Cuthbert had dogs for animal fighting.
The SIU obtained a warrant to search Cuthbert’s address and found his pets had injuries consistent with animal fighting and suspected he had been self-medicating his dogs to avoid drawing attention to his illegal activities.
Investigators seized an electronic device that contained video and images of animal fights.
This included footage of Cuthbert’s dogs killing badgers and domestic cats.
Tracking collars, nets, live animal traps, syringes, superglue and pet carriers were seized from his house.
The dogs involved in the case are a black and white patterdale terrier Billy and two brown bitch patterdale terriers called Digger and Tally.
A Scottish SPCA undercover special investigation unit 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."
A Gumtree spokesperson commented: “We take the welfare of animals very seriously and work hard to ensure our site is a safe place to find pets in need of rehoming.
"We were shocked to hear of this case and we worked with the Scottish SPCA to provide the relevant information to help ensure this individual was brought to justice.
"We do not tolerate users on our site who we believe are encouraging or indicate signs of animal cruelty, and work with law enforcement and other organisations to prevent misuse of the platform."