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updated: 11/7/2011 7:04 PM

Witnesses: Accused man fed dog when handler wasn't there

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  • Ralph Ullum

      Ralph Ullum

  • Pixie, victim of an alleged poisoning attempt in Wheaton, and the dog's handler, Jessica Plourde of New York.

      Pixie, victim of an alleged poisoning attempt in Wheaton, and the dog's handler, Jessica Plourde of New York.

 

A man accused of drugging a Siberian husky at a kennel club show in Wheaton was identified in court Monday by two witnesses who said they saw him feed the dog when its handler wasn't around.

Ralph Ullum, 68, is on trial on misdemeanor charges of actual and attempted animal cruelty and attempted criminal damage to property stemming from the Dec. 17, 2010, dog show at the DuPage County Fairgrounds.

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As Ullum's bench trial began Monday, two witnesses testified they saw the Claysville, Pa., man feed something to Pixie, a Siberian husky that was competing against Ullum's girlfriend's husky during the American Kennel Club event.

"I saw him put something into her crate and she ate it," Terri Meyers, a professional poodle handler who was at the event, testified. "He just put his fingers barely inside and dropped it. She did not chew; she swallowed it."

Brandon Bish, whose girlfriend also was showing dogs that day, said he, too, saw Ullum go to Pixie's cage and "shove something inside there."

"It was white but I don't know what it was," he testified.

Pixie's handler, Jessica Plourde of New York, also testified that she first noticed what appeared to be a crushed pink pill around Pixie's crate when she arrived early that morning. Hours later, after competing, she said she discovered part of a pill inside the cage and learned that witnesses saw Ullum stop at Pixie's cage while she was away.

Patricia Meiser, a Westmont veterinarian who was at the event, testified she induced the dog to vomit and found part of a pill she believed to be Protonix, a prescription antacid. Meiser said the other pill appeared to be Benadryl or acepromazine, both of which could have caused drowsiness. She said the antacid might have prevented the dog from becoming sick earlier.

"She seemed to be in good health," Meiser testified. "She was bright and alert and responsive to my examination."

Plourde said neither Pixie nor Ullum's girlfriend's husky won their event. She denied under cross-examination that she gave any pills to Pixie.

Neither side of the case gave opening statements Monday, with the trial starting with testimony. Judge Ronald Sutter is expected to hear evidence through Wednesday, with the defense presenting its evidence starting Tuesday.

Ullum is slated to testify, his attorney said in court.

"When all the evidence is finished, I think the judge will determine the state's case doesn't have four legs to stand on," defense attorney Edward Maloney said.

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