Dee and Jeremy Milligan-Bott said the “isolated incident” would not spoil their enjoyment at taking part in the annual show, but asked for help in finding who “maliciously poisoned” Jagger, their three-year-old dog.
Mr Milligan-Bott said a post-mortem examination by a vet had found “two or three different types of poison” in cubes of meat fed to the animal, one of which is used to kill slugs.
His wife said she believed the dog’s death was the result of a premeditated “random act” but said she did not suspect any other Crufts competitors.
The Kennel Club moved to quash rumours that other dogs had been poisoned at the flagship event.
Jagger died at the weekend after returning to Belgium following the show in Birmingham. West Midlands Police are liaising with Crufts officials and the city’s NEC, the venue for the event, to secure potential evidence.
Mrs Milligan-Bott 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.”
But she added: “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. 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.”
Speaking outside the couple’s home in Leicestershire, Mr
Milligan-Bott said: “Crufts is the best show in the world and we will certainly be back again next year competing. This one isolated incident will not spoil our enjoyment to show and compete with our lovely dogs.”
A spokeswoman for the Kennel Club said they were awaiting a report from Belgian police to shed some light on the death.
The club’s 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.”
The Kennel Club later stressed no vets at Crufts had raised concerns about poisoning and there had been no official complaints from any owners at the event.
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