Cruel badger baiting rings are still operating in Ayrshire.

Badger baiting involves pitting the wild animals against dogs and seeing which one survives.

But even the winner is usually badly injured.

And the Scottish SPCA is launching a hunt across the country for the offenders behind it.

Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Dog fighters and badger baiters are extremely secretive about their activities and don’t tend to take their dogs out in public as people would be alarmed by their injuries and scars.

“Rather than take their dogs to a vet, they will often be treated at home, which can prolong their agony and lead to infections which are sometimes fatal.

“While these crimes are taking place throughout the country, we have received intelligence that dog fighting rings are operating in Grampian, Glasgow and in and around the Edinburgh area and badger baiting is rife throughout the central belt including the Lothians, Borders, Strathclyde, Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.”

Due to the secretive nature of the crimes, public information is vital and the SSPCA would like to urge anyone with information to come forward.

The charity’s animal helpline can be contacted on 03000 999 999.

All calls are received in strict confidence and can be made anonymously if needs be.

Animal fighting is a criminal offence in Scotland.

And if found guilty, the people who take part can face maximum sentences of up to 12 months in prison, a £20,000 fine or both.

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