THE co-owner of a prize-winning dog which died after allegedly being poisoned at Crufts has said she believes it was the victim of a random attack.
Dee Milligan-Bott said she was certain that the Irish setter, which died at the weekend after returning to Belgium, was poisoned.
But the distraught breeder said: “I don’t believe in my heart of hearts that this was another competitor or anyone involved in the dog world.
“I can only imagine that it was a random act that somebody premeditated and wanted to cause total distress at the best dog show in the world.”
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, which came second in his class at the show on Thursday, is co-owned by Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers and Mrs Milligan-Bott.
The animal’s owners have said that beef laced with unknown poisons was found during a post-mortem examination, and West Midlands police are liaising with Crufts officials and the NEC to secure potential evidence.
Mrs Millington-Bott, from Kilby, Leicestershire, told BBC Radio 5 Live: “There’s no doubt that the dog was maliciously poisoned. The Crufts committee and all championship show dog committees will have to look at security.
“He was the apple of everyone’s eyes, typical Irish setter, totally trustworthy and so loved. We are devastated.”
Writing on her Facebook page, the veteran dog-breeder added: “We can’t and we won’t think that this was the act of another exhibitor. If we thought that, we couldn’t go on, and the last 30 years would be a complete waste.
“So I ask all of you to unite in finding the perpetrator who did this.”
It has been claimed 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.”
Mrs Milligan-Bott’s husband Jeremy also said he did not believe the apparent attack was targeted. He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I would imagine it was somebody who has a grudge against dogs or Crufts show.
“I can’t believe anybody would have a grudge against a dog like that. You have got people walking around the show so it is quite easy to feed a dog like that something if you wanted to poison one.”
West Midlands Police said officers had not received any complaint or been asked to investigate an allegation involving the death of a dog in Belgium.
A police spokeswoman said: “The force has not been approached by police in Belgium or the dog owner.
“If, following toxicology results in Belgium, the force is formally asked to conduct inquiries into the circumstances surrounding the death of the animal, an investigation will take place by officers in conjunction with Crufts and the NEC.
“In conjunction with the NEC and Crufts, West Midlands Police are ensuring any possible sources of evidence are being secured and preserved.”
• Crufts was briefly interrupted by Leeds student Luke Steele, who rushed the main floor at the NEC while judges announced the Best in Show winner.
Steele, a 25-year-old law undergraduate, carried a sign reading Mutts Against Crufts - a reference to dogs such as some pugs and bulldogs bred to have “unnatural” characteristics.
Steele was bundled out of the ring by security men and detained at the arena.