Cops: Man drugged rival's husky at Wheaton dog show

A 68-year-old Pennsylvania man is facing allegations he drugged a rival dog handler's Siberian husky at a kennel club show in Wheaton.

Ralph Ullum, of Claysville, Pa., is due in DuPage County court June 2 on misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and attempted criminal damage to property. If convicted, he faces up to a year in jail, prosecutors said Thursday.

Ullum is accused of feeding Protonix and possibly Benadryl — both drugs meant for humans — to Pixie, a Siberian husky competing against another Siberian husky, named Diana, owned by Ullum's girlfriend. The allegations stem from a Dec. 17 dog show at the DuPage County Fairgrounds in Wheaton.

According to a police report, Pixie's handler, Jessica Plourde of Newark Valley, N.Y., became suspicious when she noticed what appeared to be a crushed pink pill near Pixie's cage early on the second morning of the competition. Eventually, police said, several witnesses came forward saying they'd seen Ullum petting and feeding Pixie as Plourde showed other dogs.

A veterinarian at the show later induced Pixie to vomit, finding an undigested pill marked “Protonix” among other items, including dog food, pieces of chicken and a rubber band. Police also found a wadded up paper towel that contained a white substance and apparent pieces of pills in the men's bathroom trash.

Ullum acknowledged petting Pixie and using the restroom, but he denied feeding the dog or throwing anything in the trash, according to the police report. His attorney could not immediately be reached for comment.

Pixie was not seriously injured, and neither dog won their event. Plourde and Ullum's girlfriend had previously competed at several dog shows, authorities said.

Ullum told police he regularly helps his girlfriend show dogs, according to his arrest report. The American Kennel Club since has suspended his privileges, said Christina Duffney, the club's director of public relations.

Plourde declined to comment when reached by email Thursday.

According to the police report, authorities believe the pink substance found near Pixie's cage might have been Benadryl, an allergy medication that can cause drowsiness and weakness. Protonix is used to treat acid reflux and heartburn, among other ailments.