Ban for Dumfries man who admitted dog fighting charges
A man has been banned from keeping dogs for 15 years, after admitting that he trained three dogs to fight.
Liam Patterson, 26, also admitted causing two of the dogs to fight near his home at Eastfield Road in Dumfries.
Patterson's offences came to light following an international BBC investigation and an undercover operation by the Scottish SPCA.
One of the dogs involved - an American pit bull terrier - had to be put to sleep because it was a banned breed.
In addition to the ban on keeping dogs, Sheriff David Young made Patterson the subject of a community payback order with conditions that he remains under supervision for two years, carries out 300 hours of unpaid work and is placed under a home curfew.
Patterson's activities were identified following a BBC investigation into the trade in illegal fighting dogs, which was based on intelligence from The League Against Cruel Sports.
The BBC revealed a Bulgarian man, Ivaylo Nikolov was making thousands of pounds selling and transporting fighting dogs around the world including the UK.
Investigators from the League began examining further links to dogfighters in Britain by tracing the breeding history of dogs involved in the trade.
They identified Patterson's involvement in fighting from his social media accounts.
Dumfries Sheriff Court was told that a search of Patterson's home uncovered a video of a dog fight taking place in an open area nearby.
Fiscal depute Jennifer McGill said: "He (Patterson) could be heard encouraging the dogs to fight."
She added that the search also found books relating to the training of dogs for fighting, items such as a weighted collar used in their training and three dogs - Staffordshire bull terriers Zeus and Gucci and American pit bull terrier Bubba, each in separate dog cages.
A mobile phone recovered from the house had been used to communicate with other people involved in dog fighting.
Patterson's solicitor Vicki Urquhart said her client maintained that the dogs were well looked after. He offered his "sincere apologies" for what he had done.
Ms Urquhart also stressed there were no signs of any of the dogs having old injuries.
Dog fighting 'obsession'
Following the case, the Scottish SPCA said it became involved after a tip-off.
An undercover inspector involved in the investigation said: "We received information from the League Against Cruel Sports that Patterson was keeping and training dogs for the purposes of dog fighting and currently had fighting dogs at his home address. The intelligence we received also stated there was dog fighting equipment, books and gear at his home address.
"Due to immediate concerns for the welfare of the dogs, we obtained a search warrant and gained entry to the property where we found the three dogs. All appeared to be in good body condition.
"At the location, we found numerous items relating to dog fighting including weighted collars which are used as a training aid to strengthen and build endurance."
The inspector added: "Over the course of this investigation, it became clear that Patterson had a fascination, verging on obsession, with dog fighting and breeds relating to the American pit bull."
League Against Cruel Sports director of investigations Martin Sims said: "In England and Wales legislation is moving through parliament to see maximum custodial sentences for animal cruelty increased from six months to five years.
"It is time that the Scottish Parliament stop consulting on increasing sentences for animal cruelty and get on with passing the legislation.
"Only then will there be a proper deterrent to people like Liam Patterson who inflict pain on animals."