Crufts, the international jamboree of canine excellence, found itself at the centre of allegations of lower deeds on Sunday after a prize-winning Irish Setter collapsed and died of a suspected poisoning within a day of appearing at the renowned dog show.
The three-year-old pedigree called Jagger suffered a sudden and painful death at the Belgian home of his joint owners on Friday night some 24 hours after competing at the annual gathering in Birmingham.
A post-mortem examination found cubes of meat in the stomach of the Irish Setter which contained granules of material identified by a vet as a likely cocktail of slow-acting poisons. Toxicology tests are now being carried out to identify the suspected toxins. Willem Lauwers, 36, whose wife Aleksandra raised Jagger with his British co-owner, told The Independent the only possible time when the dog could have ingested the meat is when he was briefly left unattended at Crufts on Thursday morning.
Belgian police and the RSPCA have been informed while the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, is examining CCTV footage to see if it might yield clues as to the identity of any potential poisoner.
Speaking from his home in the eastern Belgium, Mr Lauwers said he and his wife were hoping the incident was not the work of a fellow exhibitor at the Crufts, which is the world’s biggest dog show and has seen an influx of foreign competitors in recent years.
He said: “It is extremely upsetting. The dogs were with us at all times other than a short period on Thursday so that is logically the only time when it could have happened. We are very certain it is poisoning - he was a very healthy dog.
“We got home and it was clear things were not right. We called the dogs to feed them and Jagger collapsed. He was dead very soon after that.
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
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Irish setters rest in their sleeping area at Crufts 2015
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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
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A Toy Poodle is groomed on the fourth and final day of Crufts dog show at the National Exhibition Centre
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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
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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
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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
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Laura Barclay arrives with her Irish Wolfounds during day three of Crufts 2015 at the NEC, Birmingham
“I don’t want to believe it was a fellow exhibitor who would do this. I think Jagger was the wrong dog in the wrong place and I’m hoping it was just some maniac who wanted to poison a dog.”
Mrs Lauwers added on Facebook: "He loved man and he has been killed by a man! I hope you can sleep well knowing you have killed our love, family member and best friend to our son."
Jagger, whose show name was Thendara Satisfaction, was one of several dogs brought to Crufts by the Lauwers and his brother, Thendara Pot Noodle, was named best in breed.
Dee Milligan-Bott, the dogs’ British co-owner, said the death was the latest in a line of incidents at other shows and the possibility of a poisoning motivated by jealousy could not be ruled out.
She told the Dog World website: “It’s been suggested that someone’s really got it in for us, and to not let it get to us. We’re very proud of our record and maybe some people aren’t happy.”
The Kennel Club said it was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the death. Caroline Kisko, the organisation’s secretary, said: “We understand that the toxicology report is due next week and until that time we cannot know the cause of this tragic incident.”
West Midlands Police said it had not as yet had the dogs death formally reported to it. In the meantime, Mr Lauwers vowed that he and his wife would continue showing their dogs.
He said: “These dogs are like members of our family - they live in the house with us and a death like this is devastating. But we are not commercial breeders - these dogs are our passion and our hobby and we will continue to show them. We cannot let this put us off.
Claire Balding tweeted her shock at Jagger’s poisoning, saying everyone at Crufts was “horrified” at his death.Reuse content