Number of poorly-treated animals taken in to care jumps 44%
Animal charity chiefs have reported a 44% increase in animals seized after cruelty investigations in Scotland.
The Scottish SPCA also revealed almost half of the record 302 animals taken into care by its inspectors in 2017 were victims of the illegal puppy trade.
They say an average of one person every week were banned from owning animals last year.
Chief executive Kirsteen Campbell said: "Overall, 52 people were banned from owning animals last year following our investigations.
"That's an average of one every week, with many of these animals having suffered in the most appalling conditions.
"The illegal puppy trade remains a major concern, with 143 of the record 302 animals seized by our inspectors and undercover special investigations unit last year rescued from dealers who treat dogs as nothing more than commodities."
The charity says it prevented an additional 75 puppies involved in the illegal puppy trade entering Scotland via Cairnryan Port from Ireland.
Ms Campbell added: "This situation simply cannot be allowed to continue, which is why we have welcomed the Scottish Government's commitment to increase potential penalties for animal welfare offences, to tackle illegal puppy dealing and licence animal sanctuaries."
The charity also called for court cases involving animals, held while owners await any further action, to be dealt with as quickly as possible.
Animal cruelty cases, bosses say, can often take years to be heard in court while the animal is held as evidence.
In 2017 the charity kept "more than 1,000 animals" in its care because their owners had not yet faced trial.
The chief executive said: "First and foremost this not good for animal welfare, it is also entirely at our expense and we would like to see these types of cases being heard in court sooner.
"Our dedicated and expert animal rescue and rehoming staff ensure that all the animals in our care receive the love, attention and veterinary treatment they need while they await their forever homes."