A man has been jailed and banned for life from owning animals after neglecting a horse and a donkey at his north-east farm.
Gary Stevens, 53, was convicted following a lengthy Scottish SPCA investigation into his treatment of his pets.
Staff from the charity visited Hallmoss Farm at Inverugie, near Peterhead, in June 2018 after receiving a tip-off on their animal helpline.
Despite sending a string of statutory care notices, the organisation said its subsequent offers of help were “rebuffed” – with Stevens going as far as to take action to try to cover his tracks.
Scottish SPCA inspector Fiona McKenzie said: “Ultimately, he attempted to hide the animals under the guise of them having been rehomed.”
But further investigations revealed that they had been moved to another address, along with other animals not seen on the charity’s initial visit.
They included Itsy the Shetland pony, who had to be put down “immediately” because of the pain and suffering inflicted on her.
She had been living with severe health issues and her feet were so badly deformed they could not healed.
Inspector McKenzie said: “In my 12 years as a Scottish SPCA inspector, this is one of the worst cases I’ve ever dealt with. I’ve never seen such a disregard for animal welfare.
“The vet in attendance said the state of Itsy was the most extreme case he’d come across in 34 years of practising.”
A donkey that had gone missing from Hallmoss Farm was also found at the second address.
The Scottish SPCA took her back to its Drumoak rescue centre where she was given a corrective hoof trimming, dental treatment and medicated baths for a skin condition.
She made a full recovery and has since been rehomed.
More than 40 other animals including cats, dogs, sheep, pigs and terrapins were also rescued by the charity.
Stevens appeared at Peterhead Sheriff Court where he was given the strongest sentence available for each charge admitted, totalling 14 months in prison.
He was also banned from owning animals for life.
Inspector McKenzie added: “We are very pleased the sheriff exercised the maximum punishment available to Stevens.
“We hope this will act as a deterrent to others and be just one of many examples of more consistent sentencing for those who are cruel to animals.”