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21 September 2016, 16:23
A man has been jailed for keeping dogs for fighting at his home in Ayrshire.
Tony Barbara, 50, was found guilty of having two pit bull terrier-type dogs for fighting despite being subject to a 10-year ban from keeping the animals.
Kilmarnock Sheriff Court heard animal welfare officers and police searched Barbara's home in High Street, Newmilns, East Ayrshire, on November 12 2014 after being given a tip-off.
The officers found two dogs with puncture wounds and scars. The animals, named Kira and Jackie, had been kept in crates in the kitchen and the bedroom.
They also found equipment linked to illegal dog fighting, including a breaking stick - used to prize fighting animals apart - veterinary medication and syringes.
Forensic scientists examined DNA evidence from the breaking sticks and concluded at least two different dogs contributed to the mixed DNA profiles recovered from the sample sites and that one of the dogs seized had been in contact with the dog-fighting equipment.
Scottish SPCA officers removed the dogs to a secure kennel.
Barbara, originally from Essex, was found guilty following a trial of contravening the Dangerous Dogs Act, breaching a previous 10-year ban on keeping the animals imposed by a London court in 2013 and of keeping dogs for fighting.
He was also found guilty of having syringes and medications, possessing breaking sticks to stop fights and causing unnecessary suffering to the dogs by failing to provide adequate care and treatment for their injuries.
He was sentenced on Wednesday to eight months' imprisonment and banned from keeping dogs for life.
Gary Aitken, Procurator Fiscal, wildlife and environment said: "Dog fighting is a cruel and wholly illegal act, and I welcome today's sentence and the granting of the order preventing Tony Barbara from keeping dogs for life.
"These dogs were caused terrible and unnecessary suffering with numerous wounds and scar over their bodies.
"COPFS (Crown Office and Procurator Fiscal Service) will continue to work to ensure those who participate in this barbaric practice are brought to justice and would encourage anyone who may have information on dog fighting to contact the police or Scottish SPCA.''
A Scottish SPCA inspector said: "We welcome this result as investigations of this nature are extremely difficult to detect.
"It is our view that Barbara was heavily involved in organised dog fighting. Both dogs had multiple puncture wounds and scarring over their bodies.
"Barbara caused his dogs to suffer greatly by involving them in fighting and not taking them to a vet in order to avoid detection. Instead, he resorted to self-medicating them.''