‘I can see how easily pets could fall victim to Crufts poisoner’

Christine Hughes and Chief
Christine Hughes and Chief
  • Owner tells of terror at ‘Crufts poisoning’
  • Christine Hughes’ dog Chief exhibited on same day as poison victim
  • Chief picked up second place in Pets As Therapy category

A Crufts contestant from St Helens has told of her shock after a gun dog exhibiting on the same day died of a suspected poisoning.

An Irish setter named Jagger died after the event, having allegedly eaten beef laced with poison.

I can see how easily it could be done. At Crufts people just have their dogs on the benches and, if they go on their own, there are times during the day when they have to leave the dog on their own

Christine Hughes

But Christine Hughes, whose border collie Chief was runner-up in the Pets as Therapy category, admitted she could see how the alleged incident may have unfolded.

She said: “I can see how easily it could be done. At Crufts people just have their dogs on the benches and, if they go on their own, there are times during the day when they have to leave the dog on their own. What’s the alternative?

“The gun dogs were there on the same day as us. Luckily, Chief’s not had any problems though. I didn’t let him out my sight.

“Unfortunately, there are an awful lot of wicked people out there, and it doesn’t just stop at dogs.”

Christine, 63, of Ravenhead, was delighted to see nine-year-old Chief collect second prize in the Pets as Therapy award category.

The duo were picked as part of a six-strong group of finalists because they regularly volunteer their time to provide therapeutic visits to hospitals, hospices, care homes and schools.

“It was a big thing for us to get as far as we got,” Christine said.

“It doesn’t matter to me that Chief wasn’t chosen as the winner. In my eyes he’s a winner all day, every day.

“It was a great experience - something I will probably never get the chance to do again. We both enjoyed it but we were shattered when we finally got back home.”

Online clips of Chief taking centre stage at Crufts have been viewed as far afield as the US.

And Christine, who says Chief’s second place award is now taking pride of place in her living room, has been overwhelmed at the level of support she and Chief have received from local well-wishers.

She added: “Chief is the calmest, most placid dog you could wish to meet. Everyone he meets think the world of him.

“Lots of people from St Helens voted for him to win. I can’t thank them enough.”