The Scottish SPCA has launched an appeal for information to help break dog fighting and badger baiting rings in Scotland.
Scotland’s animal welfare charity has stressed it needs information from the public due to the secretive nature of the crimes it has described as “barbaric and cruel beyond belief”.
Chief superintendent Mike Flynn said: “Many people will be shocked that these sickening activities are still going on in Scotland.
“But animals are still being forced to fight, often to the death, and the pain and suffering they endure is horrendous.
“Our Special Investigations Unit gathers intelligence on all forms of animal fighting and over the last 18 months our investigations have led to criminal convictions and prison sentences.
“This sends a strong message that we’re determined to pursue those involved in these crimes, which are barbaric, cruel beyond belief and have no place in modern society.”
Members of the public with information are being urged to call the Scottish SPCA’s animal helpline.
CS Flynn added: “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.
“What we need now if further information to help us identify the people involved and to save animals from horrific abuse.
“Anyone with information should call our animal helpline on 03000 999 999. All calls are in strict confidence and can be made anonymously.”
Animal fighting is a criminal offence under the Animal Health and Welfare (Scotland) Act 2006. Maximum sentences include up to 12 months in prison, a £20,000 fine or both.