A Pennsylvania dog handler is facing up to a year in jail for allegedly drugging a rival Siberian husky at an Illinois dog show.
Ralph Ullum, 68, has been charged with cruelty to animals and attempted criminal damage to property (ah, yes, the old “dogs are property” thing again). He is accused of giving the drugs Protonix (used to treat heartburn and acid reflux) and possibly Benadryl (an anti-allergy medication) to Pixie, a rival of his girlfriend’s Siberian husky, Diana, according to the Daily Herald.
On the second morning of the show, Pixie’s owner discovered a pink pill near Pixie’s cage. (Authorities think it was Benadryl.) Onlookers said they had seen Ullum petting Pixie and feeding her as her owner showed other dogs. Police sniffing out the men’s bathroom trash discovered a wadded up paper towel containing a white substance, and what appeared to be pieces of pills. Ullum said he did pet Pixie and use the bathroom, but that he didn’t drug her or throw anything in the trash.
A veterinarian induced vomiting in Pixie and found an undigested Protonix pill among other items, including chicken and a rubber band. Pixie appears to have had no lasting ill effects, although she didn’t win her event. (Neither did Diana.)
Ullum is due to appear in court on the charges in early June. The American Kennel Club has suspended his privileges, the Daily Herald reports.
If Ullum did drug the competition, why did he choose this little cocktail? Were they convenient drugs because they were in his home medicine cabinet, and aren’t lethal to dogs, as some can be? Benedryl’s main side effects are sleepiness, fatigue, and dizziness. Side effects from Protonix include diarrhea and vomiting. That combo could make a pretty untidy and confused show dog.