IT WILL never be known exactly what killed the Australian Shepherd Ch Allmark Indecent Proposal (Sunny) who died after attending National Working and Pastoral Breeds Society ch show.
Co-owner Robert Harlow told DOG WORLD today that although some toxicology tests had been carried out, the drugs administered to Sunny in a bid to save his life would preclude any chance of there being a definitive result.
"What we do know definitely is that he was poisoned on the morning of the show,” he said. "I’m not sure how the university vets know that, it is something for a scientist to explain, but they have assured us he was poisoned that morning.
"Any tests would show poison but not what poison. We’ve decided we want this to end now – we don’t want to take it any further.”
He said the vets involved would not speak to the press and had refused to take calls from the national papers.
Sunny’s kennelmate Ch Allmark Broadway Baby also became ill, although not so badly. She is now ‘fine’, Mr Harlow said today.
"She’s lost condition but otherwise doing very well,” he said. "We‘ve had tests done on her to check kidney and liver function but they are inconclusive although they show serious poisoning.”
Tribute to Sunny
In total he won 14 CCs during his short career. He was the top Australian Shepherd 2014 at the halfway point.
Sunny was eventually put to sleep a week after he became ill. At the time Mr Harlow said he had put up a ‘valiant battle’.
"He was given some form of poison yet to be identified at the show while on his bench,” he said. "As you can imagine we are all devastated, and at present have no words to describe how we feel.”
He said that very high quantities of toxins were found in Sunny’s liver and kidneys and that brown marks had been found on his chest when they returned to him after leaving him alone for 20 minutes.
"Everyone was rushing around in the morning and it would have been only too easy to drop something on the bench,” he said. "Sunny was a greedy and tit-bit based dog, while Baby wouldn’t take food from people which was probably why she survived.
"We’ve been extremely successful in breed and group – the most successful people in our breed – and I’ve had multi champions in Border Collies, so people may be getting very jealous.
"We didn’t think anything about the marks. When we groomed him he was unusually quiet – he had been running round like a total madman before that, same as he usually does. He won open dog but the judge said he wasn’t sure he seemed quite right, and wondered if he was lame. He still gave him the RCC but Neil then said he wasn’t right and let’s go home.
"He was sick in the car on the way home and the vet thought he might have a bug. He was given antibiotics as his temperature was slightly raised. The following morning he seemed brighter but at 11am he crashed. At that point we knew he had been poisoned. Preliminary tests showed high levels of toxins, so high he could only have been through foul means, not by accident.”
His body was made available for tests to determine what killed him but this is no longer deemed possible, Mr Harlow said.
"Obviously the drugs pumped into him flushed through his kidneys and liver and mean the tests can’t be done now,” he said. "If he had died immediately we could have done the tests straight away and would have been able to determine the poison. But they do know he was given the poison on the morning of the show.”
Sunny’s owners have been touched by the emails, letters and gifts they have received. At Leeds they were besieged by friends and acquaintances who came over to see them and commiserate with them about their loss.
"We’re very grateful to everyone,” Mr Harlow said. "One thing – it’s amazing how many people have told us that their dogs have been poisoned, some fatally. It has really surprised us.
"We would again warn everyone to be vigilant with their dogs at all times.”
Photo: Ch Allmark Indecent Proposal with Angie Allan.