'Drugged dog' claim at Crufts
LONDON, England -- The organizers of one of the world's biggest dog shows -- Crufts -- are investigating an allegation that a dog was drugged by saboteurs.
The young Doberman, called Kerri, was one of the favorites to win the breed's Open Bitch category at the show held in Birmingham, central England, at the weekend.
But as she took to the show ring, her owners say she became sluggish.
Clive Evans said: "She was just not herself. She was uncoordinated, listless and lethargic."
Fearing the animal was about to collapse, Evans pulled her out of the contest and took her to the show vet.
Trevor Turner, Crufts' chief veterinary officer, told the UK Press Association: "The owner was very upset and thought her dog may have been doped.
"When I examined her she was quiet, subdued and a little bit wobbly on her back legs. She showed signs of sedation, but there is no evidence to prove this."
He said it would be difficult to prove the dog was the victim of saboteurs as he did not take a sample of her blood or stomach contents.
The dog's owners, who breed Dobermans, have been exhibiting at Crufts since 1982 and have won the Best of Breed category twice.
Evans, a dog warden, believes he has been the target of saboteurs since he was sent an anonymous threatening letter warning him to "watch your back" two years ago.
"We believe someone is trying to knock us off the top of the ladder," he told PA. "It is absolutely disgusting that anyone could do this to an animal."
He said he feared the dog may have been fed a piece of meat containing a sedative on her way to the ring.
Crufts spokesman Phil Buckley said drugging was "very rare" at the show, with one case reported in the past 20 years.
"If this claim is substantiated, it would be a disgrace and treated very seriously by the Kennel Club who organize Crufts," he told PA.
He said the claims would be investigated by the Crufts Show Committee.
More than 24,000 dogs and their owners took part in the four-day show.