A man who bought cats on Gumtree to use as live bait for fighting dogs has been jailed for 10 months.
Scottish SPCA inspectors who searched Mark Cuthbert’s home in South Ayrshire found photos and videos of dead cats, badgers and foxes.
He is believed to have bought the cats online from sellers who believed they were going to a safe home.
Dog fighting equipment including tracking collars, nets and animal traps were also found at the house in Ayr.
Cuthbert, 42, was sentenced at Ayr Sheriff Court after pleading guilty to keeping three dogs, cats and a rat for animal fighting, and procuring cats for fights.
As well as his 10-month jail sentence, he was banned from keeping animals for 10 years.
The court heard Scottish SPCA inspectors went to Cuthbert’s home with a warrant on 16 March last year where they found three Patterdale Terriers – two of them older dogs and the third a puppy.
A specialist vet found the older animals, called Digger and Billy, had multiple injuries, some of them recent, consistent with fighting a badger.
Digger and the puppy were rehomed, but Billy was so aggressive he had to be put down after attacking a Scottish SPCA employee.
Cuthbert’s phone was seized during the search and images and videos were found of his dogs killing domestic cats and a rat in a trap.
There were also pictures of his dogs with apparently dead and bloody badgers.
A Scottish SPCA undercover investigator said the case was one of the most upsetting and “depraved” they had encountered.
One video showed the three dogs attacking a domestic cat in a field as it fought 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,” he said
“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.”
The charity urged pet owners to carry out thorough checks when selling or rehoming animals online.
“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,” the investigator said.
” If you are suspicious, do not continue with the sale and notify the Scottish SPCA as soon as possible.”