The Westminster Dog Show has been left shocked by the death of one of the competitors, with the dog's owner claiming poisoning to be cause.
The Westminster Kennel Club Dog Show had made history last month by giving the Best in Show title to an affenpinscher for the first time. However, the show has hit the news for a new reason now, after the death of one of the show's dogs.
Three year old Samoyed called Cruz, was competed in his first Westminster show this year. However, he reportedly died on Feb. 16 at another dog show in Colorado - just four days after the Westminster show.
Lynette Blue, the dog's co-owner, as well as his handler, Robert Chaffin, have claimed that poisoning was behind the death.
Blue told ABC News: "We have gone through all the steps of where he was, what was done, and he was always on a leash. He was never outside. He was always with the handler."
Cruz was competing at the 18th Annual Rocky Mountain Cluster Dog Show in Denver when he suddenly became very sick. He was even reportedly vomiting blood, and was taken to an emergency veterinary clinic. However, vets were unable to save the dog, and he eventually died on internal hemorrhaging.
"We can't figure out a timeline where it could have happened while he was in the room or being walked," said Blue.
The owners had no insurance policy for Cruz, according to ABC News.
Medical experts have suggested that Cruz's internal hemorrhaging, along with vomiting blood, could be a symptom of rodenticide, or rat poisoning.
Cruz was ranked seventh in the United States among Samoyeds, according to Grand Championship Points issued by the American Kennel Club.
Here is a video news report on the suspicious dog death: