Sophie Wilkinson | Contributing Editor | Monday, 9 March 2015

Crufts Hit By Dog Food Murder Scandal

The Debrief: The competition is beginning to remind us of something, and it's not just Drop Dead Gorgeous...

Crufts is meant to be a fluffy, sweet bit of respite from a world that too often spews out depressing news. Woe, then, that a dog has died at his home in Belgium after being fed poisoned dog food at the competition at the Birmingham NEC.

Thendara Satisfaction, an Irish Setter also known as ‘Jagger’, was only three years old, but was rich in names and beauty, with glossy brown-auburny Middleton-like hair.

He was co-owned by Leicester-based breeder Dee Milligan Bott and Belgian Aleksandra Lauwers. Mrs Lauwers noticed he seemed ‘weak and lethargic’ on his way back from the competition.

He later died, with a vet finding  ‘green and black substances inside cubes of beef in his stomach’ in a post mortem.

Mrs Lauwers told The Times, ‘They have not only taken away a dog, or merely a pet, they have taken away a family member. To think he may have been poisoned by a rival at a dog show just makes it even harder to take. How people can resort to killing a helpless animal from jealousy or hate in a competition is too much to comprehend. I know people take it seriously, but if you want to target me, smash my windows or something — don’t go and kill my pet dog.’

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The other co-owner, Dee Milligan Bott, told the BBC: ‘We compete week-in, week-out against each other and we have one thing in common, we all love dogs. I think and hope it was a random act by someone who hates dogs, an opportunist. We’ve had support from fellow competitors from all over the world. These are people I compete against and many of them have been in tears.’

The Kennel Club, which organises Crufts, said it’s not certain what has happened but that the police would be supported in the investigation.

‘We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Jagger's death and our heartfelt sympathies go out to his owners,’ a spokesperson said. ‘We are in contact with the owners and will do all we can to support them at this sad time.’

This is a sure case of animal cruelty, and one which could put the culprit in prison and we hope they’re caught very soon.

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But if you don’t mind, we’d like to compare dogs at Crufts to women, for a second. If you think it’s silly, just think of all the times women are compared to dogs. What we’ve seen here is an example of dogs being prized and encouraged to compete to become a winner. And it’s funny that the accepted way of prizing dogs means others will try to ruin them. It really is dog-eat-dog, as The Times reported this weekend that some techniques of sabotage include sneaking dogs laxatives, putting a bitch in heat into the arena to send the male dogs into a frenzy, shoving chewing gum into hair.

And it’s the owners of the dogs going for best in show that fear this the most. Once the dogs look to be doing well, they’re taken down. And it’s not the dogs’ fault (obviously), it’s the fault of the owners, and the people organising the competition in the first place.

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And isn’t it like that with women sometimes? The closest thing we have in the human world to Crufts are the oodles of beauty pageants across the world, where women are pitted against each other and are encouraged to fight it out to win. But the competition extends to real life, too, where women have to claw their way to the top and are rarely given enough space on their platform to let anyone else up onto it.

Maybe, just maybe, it’s worth noting that there’s room in this world for more than one top dog… or top woman.

Apart from that, our condolences to everyone who knew, loved and looked after Jagger.

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Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophwilkinson

Picture: Aleksandra Lauwers 

Tags: WTF News, Animals