NEW YORK - Call it skulldog-ery. The owner of a fluffy white contestant in New York's prestigious Westminster Dog Show is claiming foul play in the poisoning death of her beloved pooch.
The three-year-old Samoyed named Cruz died from possible rat poison four days after competing in his first Westminster show, the notoriously competitive canine beauty contest held each February in Manhattan.
"We full-heartedly believe that he was intentionally poisoned," said handler Robert Chaffin on ABC television Friday.
Owner Lynette Blue, a veteran of dog contests, told ABC that animal rights activists -- who say the Westminster show encourages cruel beauty treatments for the animals -- may have slipped him poison.
Either that, or someone within the competition.
"It's always possible -- he was a top-winning dog, so it's always possible, those things have happened -- that other people in the dog show world try to knock out top competition.... You just don't know," Blue told ABC.
Who poisoned Cruz, or even whether he was poisoned at all, may never be known: the dog has been buried and the secret with him.
Image: A Samoyed (not Cruz) enjoying the snow