Birmingham & Black Country

Crufts poisoning claims: 'No direct report of second death'

Jagger Image copyright Dee Milligan-Bott
Image caption The claim came after an Irish setter called Jagger died

Crufts say they will not probe claims a second dog was fatally poisoned unless a direct report is made to them.

It comes after Irish setter Jagger died following the competition, having allegedly eaten beef laced with poison.

Crufts said it could not look into claims about which it had "no direct information", in response to claims a shih tzu had also died.

The Telegraph published claims from other exhibitors stating their dogs were sick after the Birmingham show.

In a statement, competition organisers The Kennel Club, said: "[We have] received no details about the shih tzu who has allegedly died and whose identity remains unknown and we can confirm that no shih tzus were seen by the show vet at Crufts.

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

In a further statement, the club said: "A number of the reports circulating about dogs becoming sick have been from anonymous sources, from people who haven't reported them to us or the police."

The club said it had begun an investigation into the way the competition's winner was handled at the prestigious Birmingham event.

'Just rumours'

According to the newspaper, several other dogs including a West Highland white terrier and an Afghan hound were also sick after the show at Birmingham's NEC.

Mylee Thomas's Shetland sheepdog, Myter Eye to Eye, is thought to have been poisoned the day after the Irish setter was killed.

Mrs Thomas told The Telegraph: "The setter was poisoned the day before my bitch and I don't think there is a link between the two.

"I think that one (Jagger) was someone who had randomly targeted them because a lot of people don't agree with Crufts."

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Patsy Hollings, one of the Crufts judges, said Ms Cross was, "a very caring owner"

The Kennel Club said no other dog owners had contacted them to report suspicions of poisoning.

It said it was looking into the reports, but stressed no formal investigation had been launched.

Jagger's co-owner Aleksandra Lauwers, who lives in Belgium, posted a message on her Facebook page saying toxicological tests were being carried out at the Faculty of Veterinary Medicine at Ghent University, with results expected in about a week's time.

Ms Lauwers, wrote: "Samples are at the moment under investigation and result will be known not earlier than in a week time.

Competition ban

Crufts judge Patsy Hollings said the poisoning allegations were "extremely distressing".

"It's a dreadful situation. It sounds as if some crank got in," she said.

She said the number of different allegations made it unlikely a competitor was behind the attacks, because owners of different breeds only attend on certain days.

"The security is very tight but over 150,000 members of the public attend Crufts," she said.

"As with any exhibition, there is always a chance somebody can get somewhere you wouldn't expect them to.

"If you had MI5 there you would still struggle."

Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The Kennel Club said no other dog owners had contacted them with allegations

A representative added: "With regards to speculation about any other incidents involving other dogs, we must stress that these are, at this stage, just rumours.

"There are any number of reasons why a dog may display symptoms such as sickness and should a dog fall sick, there are vets at Crufts who will examine the dog in question and file a report."

"As with any international competition, rumours of sabotage do occasionally surface.

"This, of course, is not in the spirit of competition and will not be tolerated.

"Anyone caught attempting to deliberately sabotage another competitor's performance, particularly if a dog's welfare is put at risk, will face severe disciplinary action, which could include a ban on competing at all Kennel Club licensed events.

"Furthermore anyone who puts a dog's welfare at risk could face prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act."

No vets have raised concerns about poisoning and there have been no official complaints from any other owners at Crufts, she added.

The new claims come as petitions have been launched calling for Rebecca Cross, owner of the Best In Show winner Knopa, to be stripped of the title amid allegations she lifted the dog by his tail and neck.

One petition has attracted more than 80,000 signatures.

However, Ms Hollings said Ms Cross was "a very caring owner".

"That dog has been looked after fantastically and was in wonderful condition and she wouldn't do anything to the detriment of the dog," she said.

However, the Kennel Club said it is now launching an investigation into the allegations and would be reviewing its rules and guidance.

"We completely understand the concerns about how Knopa, the Best in Show dog, was placed on the podium," it said, in a statement.

"Those showing at Crufts receive clear written guidance on handling their dog, in order to ensure the dog's welfare, and this guidance makes it clear that dogs should not be handled in this way.

"This was further highlighted to the handler by show officials.

"The handler has since apologised for this and the upset caused and we've been assured that the dog, who must be our main priority, is happy and well."

However, the statement added: "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."

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