Police and wildlife campaigners have rescued a number of animals as part of an investigation into illegal dog-fighting, during raids on two addresses in Aberdeenshire and Angus.

The agencies said "numerous" dogs were seized in the simultaneous raids, following the receipt of intelligence on animal fighting activities in both areas.

The Scottish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) which partnered with Police Scotland to lead the raids, is now carrying out assessments on the freed animals.

An undercover officer in the Scottish SPCA's special investigations unit (SIU) said: “We uncovered intelligence to suggest illegal animal fighting was taking place at these locations.

" With serious concerns about the welfare of both the dogs and wild animals being subjected to this, we worked with the police and external partners to raid both addresses. We’ve The SIU has taken on a string of animal-fighting cases in recent months, he said, but is usually well-hidden from the authorities. “Offences such as this are incredibly difficult to investigate as they are very well-guarded by those involved. Our expertise, in conjunction with the police, has proven to be invaluable to tackling these underground crimes," he added.

"The Society is taking the fight to anyone engaging in this barbaric practice and sending out a clear message that it is not acceptable. As it is an ongoing investigation, we are unable to give any more specific information at this time.”

A Police Scotland spokesperson said: "Officers supported the Scottish SPCA in relation to search warrants at an address in Angus and an address in Aberdeenshire. Officers from Police Scotland will continue to work with the Scottish SPCA and partner agencies."

The raids have not, as yet, resulted in any arrests. However police

So far this year, the Scottish SPCA says it has taken an average of a call on animal fighting every other day. Meanwhile approximately 50 per cent of the jobs the charity’s SIU takes on involve animal fighting.

Earlier this month Mark Cuthbert, 42, of Ayr, was sentenced to 10 months in prison after pleading guilty to keeping and training dogs for the purpose of animal fighting and killing a cat. It emerged in court that he had bought cats on Gumtree so that his dogs could kill them as part of their training. Investigator seized vieo and images of animal fights and paraphernalia such as traps, syringes, nets, superglue and tracking collars.