A scandal is brewing at the most popular dog show in the world, after a 4-legged contestant dies just days after the Westminster dog show.
The death is considered suspicious – and some suspect that the dog may have been poisoned.
Cruz's handler, Robert Chaffin, believes without a shadow of a doubt that someone poisoned his show dog. He was with the dog in his final moments, and Thursday, he attended the first dog show since Cruz's death, right here in the valley.
"Never had a dog poisoned before. Never. I've never had a dog die in my arms like that," says Chaffin.
Dog handler Robert Chaffin believes someone deliberately poisoned his show dog, Cruz, at the Westminster Kennel Club Show.
"My best friend, my partner, I knew what he ate and how he felt. The night before he was bouncing on my bed eating a pudding cup, he showed no symptoms."
But the 3-year-old Samoyed suddenly got very ill and died a few days later. The dog was regurgitating blood, a symptom veterinarians say is of a dog ingesting something harsh like rat poison.
Vets also say Cruz could have had a deadly blood disease. But Chaffin claims to know otherwise.
Chaffin says someone in the crowd at the Westminster show disliked the fact Cruz had been debarked. Some animal enthusiasts think debarking a dog is cruel.
"I already know someone did it. The dog is gone. There is no closure. The only thing that will help this is time."
Thursday, Chaffin attended his first show since the loss of the dog. He brought one of Cruz's puppies, 5 month old Billy, to the Fiesta Cluster dog show at Westworld in north Scottsdale.
"He's mine, I'm walking him around trying to get him socialized. One day he'll be a show dog and follow in his father's steps."
At the show, dog lovers offered Chaffin sympathy. There were plenty of hugs going around. Everyone who believes Cruz was intentionally harmed calls it a heinous act.