One of the owners of a prize-winning dog allegedly poisoned while at the world-famous Crufts show said they have lost “our love, family member and best friend to our son”.
Three-year-old Irish setter Thendara Satisfaction, known as Jagger, collapsed and died after returning to Belgium from the show at Birmingham’s NEC.
Jagger, who came second in his class at the show on Thursday, is co-owned by Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers and Leicester-based breeder Dee Milligan-Bott.
Mrs Milligan-Bott described the dog’s death as a “heinous crime”.
In a post on her Facebook page, she said beef cubes containing up to three different poisons – which led to a painful death for the animal – were discovered after an examination.
She claimed the post-mortem tests also showed that the dog must have been given the meat “while on his bench at Crufts”.
A devastated Mrs Lauwers wrote on her Facebook page: “To person who has done it, hope you can sleep well knowing you have killed our love, family member and best friend to our son.”
A spokeswoman for the Kennel Club, which runs Crufts, said they were awaiting a toxicology report from Belgian police to shed some light on Jagger’s death.
Secretary Caroline Kisko said: “The Kennel Club is deeply shocked and saddened to hear that Jagger the Irish setter died some 26 hours after leaving Crufts.
“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. ”
Crufts presenter Clare Balding said the situation is “awful for all concerned”.
Speaking to DogsWorld website, Mrs Milligan-Bott said Jagger may not have been the target of the poisoning.
“I’m not sure which bench Jagger would have been on when this happened, but he would have moved bench,” she said. “We had three dogs one side and two the other. There was a bit of a muddle. But you become paranoid after a while.”
She said there would have been “windows of opportunity for someone to feed Jagger something at Crufts” and added that there had been other incidents previously including one of her dogs being let off its lead and going missing.
“There do seem to be too many coincidences. You go to shows trying to win, and one of our dogs is on a roll at the moment, and our kennel had a good day at Crufts on Thursday. We’re very proud of our record and maybe some people aren’t happy.”
Appealing for information to find the person responsible, Mrs Milligan-Bott, who owns Thendara Kennel alongside her husband Jeremy, said they are hopeful a fellow competitor was not involved.
“We can’t and we won’t think that this was the act of another exhibitor – if we thought this we couldn’t go on, and the last 30 years would be a complete waste,” she said.
“So I ask all of you to unite in finding the perpetrator who did this, and let’s continue to produce and breed our gorgeous dogs who we are all so proud of.”
The four-day show finished on Sunday, with Scottish Terrier Knopa named Best In Show. The awards were also disrupted by a protester for animal rights group Peta.