The Harborough district co-owner of prize-winning dog Jagger, who died after doing well at Crufts, has called for people to unite in finding the perpetrator of the ‘heinous crime’.
Dee Milligan-Bott, from Kibworth, said earlier today that she does not think a fellow Crufts exhibitor was responsible for poisoning her dog.
UPDATED: Press conference transcript:
Speaking from outside their cottage in Kibworth, Mrs Milligan-Bott and husband Jeremy Bott read out statements this afternoon.
Mrs Milligan-Bott said: “I have done this for all of us who devote our lives to the sport we love.
“I have done this to raise awareness of the heinous crime that took place which resulted in the death of Jagger.
“I would like to thank everyone from around the world so very much for your overwhelming support, messages and kind words.
“We always knew our breed in the world of dogs was amazing but your support over the last few days has been truly humbling.
“I certainly don’t want our dog shows, the places we’ve worked so hard to get to, to become a ground of finger-pointing and suspicion.
“I therefore need you all to know that we can’t and won’t think this was an act of another exhibitor.
“If we thought this we couldn’t go on and the last 30 years of breeding and showing beautiful dogs would have been a complete waste, so I ask you all to unite in finding the perpetrator who did this.
“Let’s continue to produce and breed our gorgeous dogs who we are all so proud of.
“I thank you again for your support in our amazing success on Thursday with our dog Noodle, and our devastation today.
“But please, let us report on the positive side of Crufts.
“Also, I know I can’t forget how proud I am of the achievements at the show this year.”
Mr Bott added: “I would like to offer my congratulations to the winning Scottish Terrier and runner-up Flat-coated Retriever who I competed against with Pot Noodle. Those were worthy winners.
“What a shame that this incident has marred the biggest success of their careers.
“Crufts is the best show in the world, and we will certainly be back again next year to compete.
“This one isolated incident will not spoil our enjoyment to show and compete with our lovely dogs.
“Please let us now grieve the loss of our dog Jagger.”
Mr Bott believes the poisons used to kill the animal may have been slug repellent and a type of rat poison.
Speaking outside his cottage home in Kibworth earlier this morning – after returning from a walk with two Afghan Hounds – the professional dog breeder said: “We are all absolutely devastated by what has happened.
“I don’t know who did it, but I don’t think it was an inside job. I think it was someone with a grudge against dogs.”
He added: “When the vet cut open his stomach, she found cubes of beef like steak, and they [the cubes] had been sewn up with poison inside.
“She [the vet] thinks there were two or three types of poison, one of them may possibly be slug killer or slug repellent.
Jagger died within 24 hours of coming second in his class at this year’s Crufts, on Thursday.
The Irish red setter suffered a fit and fell into a coma before dying in the arms of his other co-owner, Aleksandra Lauwers, (34), back at the family home in the city of Tongeren, in Belgium.
Belgian police are believed to be investigating the attack at the show, run by The Kennel Club, which took place at the NEC in Birmingham.
Jagger, whose show name was Thendara Satisfaction, was one of several dogs brought to Crufts by the Lauwers.
His brother, Thendara Pot Noodle, owned by Jeremy Bott’s wife and fellow dog breeder Dee Milligan-Bott was named Best-in-Breed.
The RSCPA and Belgian police are now investigating the poisoning at the world’s biggest dog show, which finished at the weekend.
Heartbroken Alexsandra said after the prestigious competition: “They have not only taken away a dog, or merely a pet, they have taken away a family member.
“The timings from the autopsy make it clear the only place the poison could have been given to Jagger was while he was on his bench at Crufts.
“It should be a hobby and nothing more. To think he may have been poisoned by a rival at a dog show just makes it even harder to take.”
A spokesperson for The Kennel Club said: “We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear of Jagger’s death and our heartfelt sympathies go out to his owners.”
A spokeswoman for the NEC Group said it would be reviewing its CCTV if it was asked to do so as part of the investigation.
She added: “As a leading venue, the NEC has active CCTV in place – which does record images – as part of its security and safety operation.”
TV presenter Clare Balding, who hosted the Crufts coverage on Channel 4, tweeted: “Everyone at #Crufts2015 horrified at death of Irish Setter Jagger.”
A spokeswoman for West Midlands police said: “No crimes of this nature have been reported to us from Crufts at this stage.”
Kilby man Mr Bott, who has been showing and breeding dogs for more than 40 years, added: “This could just be a mindless act of brutality by somebody who wants to target Crufts or dogs in general.
“There would have definitely been windows of opportunity for someone to feed Jagger something while he was on his bench.
“It’s been suggested that someone’s got it in for us – but I don’t know who that could be. People take dog-showing seriously, but not to this level.
“It must have been some awful random person who did this. I don’t want to believe that another dog owner is capable to this.”
Mr Bott and his wife Dee Milligan-Bott run the successful Thendara kennels in Fleckney Road, Kilby. The kennels specialise in breeding Irish setters and Afghan hounds.
Aleksandra has vowed to return to the prestigious dog show next year to compete in memory of her ‘murdered’ dog.
She said she would not let the scandal that has rocked the competition put her off returning to the show ring.