Crufts 2015 poisoning scandal – how it all unfolded and what exactly happened

Crufts is meant to be a fluffy, cute bit of detachment from a world that often spews out depressing news… but the event has a dark history that taints it.

After the world watched the dog show in 2015, horror struck – the sudden death of innocent pooches became an investigative issue no one could ignore.

It was after the dog show that shocking allegations of poisoning sparked outrage after Jagger the Irish setter died a few days after competing in the event.

A shih-tzu, a Western Highland terrier and Afghan hound also suffered serious illnesses.

But what happened? And who is responsible? We take a closer look at the tragedy which struck more than just pet lovers…

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What exactly happened?

Three-year-old Irish setter Jagger came second in the best of breed class at Birmingham’s NEC but fell ill and collapsed at home after his stint on the dog show.

Distraught breeder Dee Milligan-Bott claimed a vet’s postmortem found cubes of beef laced with a slow-acting toxin in his stomach.

She suspects a jealous rival was responsible but believes the real target was brother Noodle, who pipped Jagger to first place.

At the time, Dee, from Leicester, said: “Whoever did this knew what they were doing, trying to get exactly the right type of poison with a slow release. It’s been suggested that someone’s really got it in for us.”

It was originally believed that Jagger was killed in a 'murder' plot, but it later transpired the pooch digested the poison when he got home from Crufts.

And according to the Kennel Club, a post-mortem found two poisons in beef that was eaten by the three-year-old dog in Belgium.

The two poisons are said to be banned in the EU.

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At the time, Caroline Kisko, Kennel Club, said: "There has been a lot of concern about whether the poisoning happened at Crufts and we are now able to reassure all dog lovers who came to Crufts that this could not have been possible and it is highly likely that the poisons, thought to be on a piece of beef, were eaten in Belgium, shortly before Jagger's death."

Jagger – full name Thendara Satisfaction – took part in the famous dog show that year, but co-owner Alexandra Lauwers, who lives in Tonegem, Belgium, noticed he was lethargic and weak on returning home a day after his performance.

She said he tragically died in the arms of her and her son.

Speaking in 2015, distraught Alexandra said: “They've not only taken away a dog, or merely a pet, they've taken away a family member.

“How people can resort to killing a helpless animal from jealousy or hate for a dog in a competition is too much to comprehend.”

She added: “I took him to the clinic and they cut open his stomach – inside was green and black substances in cubes of beef.

“He has clearly been poisoned on purpose. Jagger loved people and he loved food. He would have trusted whoever gave it to him.”

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Were any other dogs affected?

After Jagger's unexpected death, it emerged that another dog had mysteriously died after competing in the annual show – reported to be a Shih Tzu.

In a statement, show runners The Kennel Club told the Telegraph at the time: "We are aware of these reports but have not been contacted by any Shih Tzu owners claiming their pets have been harmed, so it's totally unverified at this point as far as we are aware."

And it was later reported that six more dog owners had come forward, claiming their pets were poisoned after appearing at Crufts and reportedly falling ill following the competiiton.

One of the owners, Mylee Thomas, claimed her Shetland sheepdog was poisoned the day after Jagger died.

She said her animal was given dodgy meat the day after Jagger.

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Mrs Thomas said: "The setter was poisoned the day before my bitch and I don't think there is a link between the two.

"I think that one [Jagger] was someone who had randomly targeted them because a lot of people don't agree with Crufts."

The six additional owners claimed their pets were poisoned after Crufts where Irish setter Jagger was killed by contaminated meat.

The owner of another Irish setter claimed his dog had fallen ill after the NEC show in Birmingham on Thursday.

An unnamed Crufts judge said two Shetland sheepdogs became sick and may have been poisoned.

A shih-tzu, a Western Highland terrier and Afghan hound also suffered serious illness, it is claimed.

One of the sheepdogs believed to have been targeted is called Myter Eye to Eye.

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Who is responsible?

Alexandra and Dee suspected British owners may have been responsible as there was ill-feeling that foreign dogs were allowed to compete that year.

They said Jagger – a ­Luxembourg Junior Champion and the son of 2010 Crufts best of breed winner Mr Jingles – was left alone just once in the benching area.

Dee was considering quitting pedigree dogs shows after the tragedy, saying: “It’s turning into such a nasty sport. This has devastated me.”

And the investigation saw Belgian police and the RSPCA work together to get to the bottom of the poisoning horror.

But despite the concerns after the tragedy, the Kennel Club continued to disassociate themselves with the ordeal.

Although the organisation extended their deepest condolences, they still managed to keep a distance from the investigation.

Caroline Kisko, of organisers the Kennel Club, said at the time: “Our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jagger’s owners.”

And it wasn't until the investigation took a deep dive when the Kennel Club was forced to step in.

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The show's organisers insisted they had yet to receive a single official complaint from an owner – and that there had never been a confirmed poisoning case in the show's 124-year history. 

A Crufts spokesman said: "The facts surrounding Jagger's sad death are still being established and we must stress that any other unsubstantiated rumours about dogs being poisoned are just that.

"We can confirm that no vets have raised concerns about poisoning and there have been no official complaints from any owners at Crufts 2015.

"As with any international competition rumours of sabotage do occasionally surface. This of course is not in the spirit of competition and will not be tolerated.

"Anyone caught attempting to deliberately sabotage another competitor's performance, particularly if a dog's welfare is put at risk, will face severe disciplinary action, which could include a ban on competing at all Kennel Club licensed events."

She added: "Furthermore anyone who puts a dog's welfare at risk could face prosecution under the Animal Welfare Act."

But despite best efforts from British and Belgian law enforcement adjoined with the efforts from Kennel Club and Crufts, the culprit has never been found or identified.

The case has since gone cold and remains unsolved.

And since the malicious ordeal took place in 2015, a Kennel Club spokesperson told VICE that the show has now doubled its security measures to include "increased patrols by stewards, as well as CCTV, to further protect the dogs at the show" following 2015's incident.

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