The world’s biggest dog show faces its biggest scandal ever after the owners of a champion Irish setter say their dog died because it was fed poison there.
The death of three-year-old Jagger has rocked Britain’s Crufts, famed as the world's biggest dog show, and unnerved a dog-showing world that some fear may have just become too competitive.
Dee Milligan-Bott, co-owner of Jagger, says an autopsy had concluded he had eaten cubes of beef stitched together with several types of poison. That led to a painful death for Jagger on March 6, the day after he appeared at Crufts and won second place in his pedigree class, Thendara Satisfaction. Jagger was at home in Belgium when he died.
Milligan-Bott, an experienced Irish setter and Afghan Hound kennel owner who has officiated at Crufts, is calling on fellow breeders to track down the poisoner: “I ask you all to unite in finding the perpetrator who did this.”
Although she says the autopsy showed the poisoning must have taken place at Crufts, held from March 5 to 8 at the Birmingham NEC, she refuses to point blame at rivals. “I certainly don’t want our dog shows, the places we work so hard to get to, to become a ground of finger-pointing and suspicion.”
“I therefore need you all to know that we can’t, and we won’t, think this was an act of another exhibitor. If we thought this, we wouldn’t have gone on,” she says.
The Kennel Club, which organises Crufts, issued a statement of condolence. “The Kennel Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Jagger the Irish Setter died some 26 hours after leaving Crufts,” sais Kennel Club secretary Caroline Kisko.
“We have spoken to his owners and our heartfelt sympathies go out to them. We understand that the toxicology report is due next week and until that time we cannot know the cause of this tragic incident,” says Kisko.
A Kennel Club spokeswoman says it’s unclear where the alleged incident happened and that until the toxicology report is issued, it’s unwise to speculate. In any case, the tabloid Sun reports, the “police are following all leads.”
The Crufts dog show was founded in 1891 by Charles Cruft, who had worked for a dog biscuit manufacturer. Owners flock to Birmingham where the event is held, entering their pedigree dogs against 21,500 others in a series of competitions that culminate in ‘Best in Show’.
Winners emerge from categories such as toy dogs, gun dogs, hounds and terriers. This year, a Scottish terrier from Russia called Knopa won the coveted ‘Best in Show’ title. – Reuters
UPDATE: According to a March 10 report by British tabloid Daily Star, five more dogs including a Shih Tzu, a West Highland terrier and an Afghan hound have taken ill after competing at Crufts.
If the other dogs are indeed victims of the same poisoning method that killed Jagger, this would mean the incident must have taken place at Crufts. It would also suggest the likelihood that Jagger and the other dogs were victims of a random attack by an outsider, not a targeted attack by a competing dog owner.