What length will dog owners go to eliminate competition in a prestigious dog show? A story reported this morning on ABC’s Good Morning America suggest that killing a rival pooch is not out of the question.
Cruz, a 3-year-old Samoyed who competed in his first Westminster [Kennel Club Dog Show] this year, died Feb. 16 while competing in another dog show in Colorado — just four days after the Westminster competition ended. Both the dog's co-owner, Lynette Blue, and his handler, Robert Chaffin, suspect the dog was poisoned.
‘We have gone through all the steps of where he was, what was done, and he was always on a leash,’ Blue, 67, who has co-owned Cruz since birth and has raised and shown the fluffy, snow-white breed of dogs since the 1960s, told ABC News today. ‘He was never outside. He was always with the handler.’
Cruz was competing at the 18th Annual Rocky Mountain Cluster Dog Show in Denver when he became ill and began vomiting blood. Chaffin, his handler of over one year, took him to an emergency veterinary clinic, where he later died of internal hemorrhaging. The dog was cremated and a necropsy was not performed.
According to experts, internal hemorrhaging of the sort Cruz suffered is a symptom of rodenticide, or rat poisoning. But the manager of the hotel where the Cruz and Chaffin stayed during the Westminster Show in New York told her the facility does not use rat poisoning. The dog, which took seventh-place honors in the nation among Samoyeds, was also not walked outside or in any of the city's parks.
Dr. Tony Johnson, a clinical assistant professor of emergency medicine at Purdue University College of Veterinary Medicine, offered a second opinion that is not consistent with poisoning. He maintains that Cruz may have died of cancer or another disease that presents similar symptoms.
Chaffin, whom Blue trusts implicitly, is adamant that Cruz’s death was the result of foul play. She cites a four-hour window during which the dog could have been poisoned, though she suspects an animal rights activist — not a competitor — was the likely culprit.
For its own part, Westminster said in a statement issued to ABC News that it has never “had an incident at our show where a dog has become ill or was harmed as a result of being poisoned.”
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