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Westminster dog's death shrouded in mystery

NEED TO KNOW
  • Prize-winning Samoyed 'Cruz' died days after Westminster
  • His handlers say they're not ruling out foul play
Westminster dog's death shrouded in mystery

Sadness: A beautiful white Samoyed who competed at the Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show this month has been found dead, and his handlers say they smell something fishy.

Cruz was 3 years old and had competed in dog shows around the country. In fact, he was attending another show when he died in Lakewood, Colorado. While no one knows the cause of death, the veterinarian who treated Cruz says he exhibited some symptoms in line with dogs who have been poisoned. While the vet expressed her doubts that Cruz was intentionally poisoned, the dog's handlers think otherwise.

“Unfortunately, dog shows have been plagued by some of these people for years,” Chaffin told the New York Times. “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.”

Who would do such a thing to a dog? Surely there are streaks of jealousy in the dog show circuit, but Chaffin says a number of animal welfare activists could have been at fault, as well. Opponents of dog shows often voice their opinions about purebred breeding and procedures the dogs undergo to be show-ready. Chaffin says he remembers one individual at Westminster who scoffed at the removal of Cruz's vocal chords, a procedure known as "de-barking."

To be clear, neither Chaffin nor anyone else has any real proof of what happened to Cruz. While it looks like poisoning, there is nothing to say he couldn't have gotten into something he shouldn't have. After all, dogs will be dogs, even if they're champions. For now, it's just a very sad situation. “It’s devastating,” said Lynette Blue, one of Cruz's owners. “We keep thinking of the various scenarios, and it’s starting to feel like something we may never know.”

Blue says she's not sure yet whether Cruz's team is going to pursue further investigation. For now, it's hard enough having to say goodbye to their beloved boy.

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