Owners of a prize-winning dog who competed at an international competition before dying of poison have spoken of their loss as two more pedigree competitors allegedly fall ill at the same show.
The devastated owners of three-year-old Irish setter Jagger, who died in Belgium on Friday after appearing at Crufts in Birmingham, said an autopsy revealed the family pet had beef cubes laced with poison in his stomach when he died. Co-owner Jeremy Bott said he thought the animal had been poisoned by “slug killer” but that it was not a targeted attack.
A post-mortem on the animal revealed three "green and black" substances, sewn inside beef cubes, inside Jagger's stomach.
“I would imagine it was somebody who has a grudge against dogs or Crufts show,” he told the BBC’s Today Programme.
During the show, the animals are ‘benched’ and visitors are able to walk in and among them. Earlier in the week Jagger’s half-brother Noodle had won a prestigious award and the team’s kennel received a lot of attention before they competed on Thursday.
“You have got people walking around the show so it is quite easy to feed a dog like that something if you wanted to poison one," Mr Bott added. CCTV from the hall is being examined by officials.
In pictures: The Crufts dog show 2015
In pictures: The Crufts dog show 2015
1/15 Crufts 2015
An English Setter looks out from its bench at the annual Crufts Dog Show at the NEC Arena in Birmingham
2/15 Crufts 2015
Irish setters rest in their sleeping area at Crufts 2015
3/15 Crufts 2015
Dogs walk with their owners at Crufts 2015
4/15 Crufts 2015
Knopa, the Scottish Terrier, with handler Rebecca Cross, after winning Best in Show during day four of Crufts 2015 at the NEC in Birmingham
5/15 Crufts 2015
Sue Ellis exhibits Alaskan Malamute, "Bart", winner of the Working Group for the Best in Show category at the Crufts Dog Show in Birmingham
6/15 Crufts 2015
A Toy Poodle is groomed on the fourth and final day of Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre
7/15 Crufts 2015
Yasmin Kelleway (L) Claudia Kelleway (C) and Joshua Limbrick pose with Great Danes Ruby and Madison during the second day of the Crufts dog show
8/15 Crufts 2015
A dog jumps a hurdle in the agility section at the annual Crufts dog show
9/15 Crufts 2015
A Yorkshire Terrier is pictured on the fourth and final day of Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre
10/15 Crufts 2015
A pair of Chinese crested dogs named Mia (front) and Mugly, sit in a pushchair during day three of Crufts 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham
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Polish Lowland Sheepdogs are paraded in a show ring as they compete on the second day of Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre
12/15 Crufts 2015
A great dane with its owner after they finished first in their class during the second day of Crufts dog show
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Isobel, (C) aged 8, shows a Shetland Sheepdog on the second day of the Crufts dog show
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Reuben the Springer Spaniel waits outside in his onesie before day one of Crufts 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham
15/15 Crufts 2015
Laura Barclay arrives with her Irish Wolfounds during day three of Crufts 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham
Amy Nettleton, daughter of Jagger’s co-owner Dee Milligan Bott, said the family were convinced that Jagger’s death was “malicious”.
“We are certain as a family that it certainly wasn’t a dog lover and it certainly wasn’t somebody that loves dogs as much as we do,” Ms Nettleton told BBC Breakfast this morning.
She continued: “We want to raise the awareness and find the perpetrator who did this to ensure that these kind of acts don’t happen again.”
Ms Nettleton said the family, who co-owned Jagger with Willem and Aleksandra Lauwers, were “devastated” by the pet’s death and “had been rocked to the core” by events.
Fears over the safety of the animals at Crufts, an annual event organised by the Kennel Club, were raised after an anonymous judge told the Daily Telegraph he had seen two other pedigree dogs unexpectedly taken ill.
“I saw one of the prize-winning dogs being sick in the ring on Friday,” the judge claimed adding that the animal’s owner had been “very upset” and believed that “someone had poisoned him, although she had no proof.”
He continued another competitor’s owner had also feared their animal had been poisoned after the dog passed blood on its return home.
“Both ladies thought their dogs had been poisoned,” he allegedly claimed.
Kennel Club spokesperson Heidi Ancell told The Independent: “There are lots of security measures already in place.”
She refused to comment on whether security at the show would be increased in light of recent events, stressing that much of the information surrounding the two ill animals was “speculation” and adding: “The key thing we need to wait for is the toxicology report.”
In a statement Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club Secretary, said: “People who come to Crufts do so because they love dogs and in the history of Crufts we have had no confirmed reports of dogs being poisoned.
"There are any number of reasons why a dog may display symptoms such as sickness. We don’t want people to worry unnecessarily particularly given that we are still trying to establish the exact situation surrounding Jagger, the Irish Setter’s death.”
Writing on Facebook yesterday Mrs Milligan Bott said she did not believe the culprit was a fellow competitor. "So I ask all of you to unite in finding the perpetrator who did this".
Although an autopsy confirmed Jagger, whose show name was Thendara Satisfaction, had cubes of poisoned meat in his stomach, a toxicology report due later this week is expected to shed further light on what poisons killed the pedigree animal.
In a statement West Midlands police, working with Crufts, said they "are ensuring any possible sources of evidence are being secured and preserved."Reuse content