Show dog owner refuses necropsy, but accuses Peta of poisoning Samoyed at Westminster

cruzshow cruzportraitI wonder what Det. Lenny Briscoe would think of this case: A loved one dies vomitting blood. The family accuses a vague political opponent of a specific kind of poisoning. And then refuses an autopsy. Ka-chung (gavel sound).

Here’s the case: Professional dog handler Robert Chaffin went to the biggest dog event in the country with Cruz, a happy-looking, fluffy, white, 3-year-old Samoyed. Didn’t win. Days later in Colorado, the dog died vomiting blood. Horrific. Tragic.

Here’s what you or I would do if we even vaguely suspected somebody poisoned our family pet: order tests and raise hell till we caught the person who did this horrible thing.

If I had the vaguest suspicion my dog had been poisoned by anyone I’d be demanding a necropsy and the most thorough anaylsis of the poison money could buy. In fact  I did get a necrospy on my 15-year-old dog, Jolly, when he died a few years ago, just to see exactly what went wrong. The death was not suspicious and he wasn’t part of my business. I didn’t have a website touting Jolly’s lineage like they have for Cruz. New Yorkers routinely order up necropsies on dead hawks they find in parks to figure out if poison was involved and which one.  If I thought he had died at the hands of a villain at major dog event–and therefore thousands of other dogs would be vulnerable–I would have had an obligation to get to the bottom of the case.

But Cruz, more formally known as BIS Am. Grand ch. Polar Mist Cruz’nT’party at Zamosky, is co-owned by Lynette Blue and an Indonesian breeder, Zamosky, and is hardly a family pet. So here’s what the handler and owner do: refuse to do a necropsy (animal autopsy). Then go to the New York Times and accuse the PeTA, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, of somehow slipping their dog rat poison at the premier dog show in the country. They claim to have called the New York City Police but not gotten a response.

“[Rat poisoning] is in the realm of possibility,” Lynette Blue told The Associated Press on Thursday. “The timeline adds up. There’s no other scenario we can come up with other than poison,” she said. (The Times came up with hemophilia, which is linked to the breed, but it seems unlikely to have gone undetected so long.)

“Unfortunately, dog shows have been plagued by some of these people for years,” Chaffin said told the New York Times, which amazingly ran this unsubstantiated attack on PeTA. “I’ve heard horror stories about other people’s dogs having their setups tampered with, being poisoned, but I never thought it would come to me.”

Chaffin’s weird paranoia about animal rights groups is pretty much the only thing their claim is based on. Lots of people hate dog shows and the creepy dog breeding industry. But they do it because they love dogs–instead of loving arbitrary breed standards. If there are any documented cases of dogs being poisoned at shows it would be a horrible crime and certainly newsworthy. So the Times should have no trouble digging them up, right?

Chaffin says Cruz was hardly alone for minutes. I’ve been to Westminster and many dogs are left in crates for hours with no person  in site. Other dog people hover nearby. I don’t know which type he is. I only know that you don’t ever leave a dog alone in New York City. I have had dogs here for about 16 years and I don’t do it for a minute. Especially not if I sincerely believed someone was out to get them.

He claims somebody gave him the evil eye for having Cruz’s vocal cords cut. I can easily imagine someone rolling their eyes at this practice, but this is hardly the biggest target of animal rights activists. Even if some arch villain were set to poison a show dog, wouldn’t they go for more offensive breeds like boxers and ridgebacks, that regularly kill off puppies for not meeting breed standards? Or breeders that keep producing dogs despite known genetic defects?

The most obvious problem with the theory: why would an animal lover quietly poison an inconspicuous competitor at a big dog show with a poison that takes days to work? Wouldn’t you use anything with the sugar substitute xylitol, which kills within hours?

They told the Times that they didn’t hear back from the NYPD. If I didn’t get a good enough response from the NYPD, I would have pulled in the Westminster Kennel Club, which surely would have an interest in either catching someone who did something so awful to one of its dogs or putting all the other attendees at ease. So far I don’t see much reaction from the Westminster Kennel Club aside from saying that they haven’t had dogs poisoned. The Kennel Club has to step up, one way or the other, either by investigating the possible crime or saying the story is ludicrous.

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