Just 26 hours earlier, Thendara Satisfaction had been strutting his stuff at one of Europe’s most prestigious dog shows — his red coat silky and gleaming, his stride jaunty, his head held high.

But by Friday evening, the 3-year-old Irish setter and winner of second place at the Crufts Dog Show was gasping for his last breaths at his home in Belgium, apparently dying from poison.

Thendara Satisfaction’s co-owner, United Kingdom-based breeder Dee Milligan Bott, told the BBC that a veterinarian’s autopsy of the dog’s stomach uncovered several undigested cubes of beef that had been stuffed with poison.

“There is no doubt that the dog was maliciously poisoned,” she said.

The incident has been reported to Belgian police, and a toxicology report is underway, Kennel Club Secretary Caroline Kisko told the Associated Press. (The Kennel Club organizes Crufts and other British dog shows.)

Veterinarian Steve Leonard told the BBC that such incidents are rare, and that human forensic techniques will probably be used to determine what substance killed the dog, because vets rarely deal with these kinds of investigations.

“Your heart goes out to the poor owner and what they must be going through,” he said.

Jagger, as the dog is known to family and friends, had taken second place in his class at the Crufts Dog Show in Central England the previous day. In an interview with the BBC, Bott said someone must have slipped him the poisoned beef during the exhibiting portion of the event, as that was the only time that Jagger was left alone.

“I can only imagine that it was a random act that somebody premeditated and wanted to cause total distress at the best dog show in the world,” she said.

But Bott is firm that the poisoned food could not have come from a fellow competitor.

“We can’t and we won’t think that this was the act of another exhibitor. If we thought this we couldn’t go on, and the last 30 years would be a complete waste,” she wrote in an impassioned Facebook post Sunday.

She elaborated in her interview with CNN: “I think I would have to give up on everything if I believed that someone who shows and breeds dogs would kill a dog. We all do this because we love dogs. If you hate me for being successful, then stick a brick through my window or something. But why would you involve a dog?” 

The revelations that a competitor was killed shook the dog world. An incident like this has never occurred in the competition’s 124-year history, Kisko told CNN.

“We are deeply shocked and saddened to hear this terrible news and our heartfelt sympathies go out to Jagger’s owners,” she said in a statement.

Dog lovers also took to Twitter to express their sympathies, including Clare Balding, who hosts TV coverage of Crufts in the United Kingdom:

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