Crufts 2015: Prize-winning owner hounded online after footage captures her picking dog up by the tail

Rumours around the number of animals 'poisoned' continue to swirl

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The Independent Online

In the latest scandal to engulf the international dog show, a prize-winning owner has come under a storm of online criticism after she was filmed picking her dog up by the tail.

Meanwhile, rumours continue to swirl over allegations that six further dogs have been poisoned – with one dying – after the death of Irish Setter Jagger on Friday night.

A post-mortem on the prize-winning dog revealed his stomach contained three strains of poison sewn inside beef cubes. The owners of Jagger, who competes under the name Thendara Satisfaction, have labelled the death “malicious” and a “heinous crime”.

The lift which has attracted online controversy

US contestant Rebecca Cross, owner of Scottish terrier Knopa who won Best in Show at Crufts, was filmed picking the dog up by the tail and around its neck to place it on the ground.

Dog lovers and animal rights campaigners have reacted with fury to her actions.

An online petition on 38Degrees, which has accumulated almost 90,000 signatures so far, calls for Ms Cross to be stripped of her title.

The petition reads: “Under KC Rule A42 I believe that Ms Cross is guilty of 'behaving discreditably and prejudicially to the interests of the canine world' and should be held accountable.”

On the official Crufts Facebook page hundreds of commenters have called for the Kennel Club, organiser of the international show, to take disciplinary action against Ms Cross.

But in a statement released today, Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko said: “The judge’s primary focus is on the dogs themselves and we do not believe it would be fair to strip the dog of its Best in Show title because the dog was awarded this prize based on its own merits in the show ring.”

Although Ms Kisko said she understood the concerns of fans, she highlighted that Ms Cross had subsequently apologised and that Knopa was “happy and well.”

"In this specific case an investigation is underway and a decision will be made by committee about the actions that have been taken by the exhibitor at Crufts and the next steps," she told the Mirror.

The furore surrounding this year’s show continues to rumble on as the number of possible poison victims rises to six.

A West Highland White terrier, an Afghan hound, two Shetland Sheepdogs and another Irish Setter have all reportedly fallen ill after the international competition.

Earlier today a report published in The Sun claimed that a Shih Tzu had died after being poisoned.

But a spokesperson for Crufts told The Independent they had not received any official notification of this death.  “The Kennel Club  has received no details about the Shi Tzu who has allegedly died and whose identity remains unknown and we can confirm that no Shi Tzus were seen by the show vet at Crufts.

They continued: "We cannot look into claims about which we have no direct information, which is why it essential that people come forward with any concerns.”

Ms Kisko added although reports of ill dogs were “taken with the utmost of seriousness” the reports had so far been anonymous and the Club was unable “to look into claims about which we have no direct information.”

She appealed for anyone with information to contact Club staff members.

As the Club continued to issue denials, Aleksandra Lauwers, one of Jagger’s co-owners, posted on Facebook that the first toxicology reports on the substances found inside his stomach would be published in a week.

Ms Kisko said that facts around the Irish Setter’s death were “still being established,” refusing to confirm whether Jagger had been poisoned.