Man denies drugging rival's dog at Wheaton show

  • Ralph Ullum

    Ralph Ullum

 
Updated 6/2/2011 1:40 PM

A man accused of drugging a rival dog handler's Siberian husky at a kennel club show in Wheaton denies the charges and plans to take the case to trial, his attorney said Thursday.

Ralph Ullum of Claysville, Pa. faces misdemeanor charges of cruelty to animals and attempted criminal damage to property. DuPage County Judge Ronald Sutter set a Sept. 8 trial date.

 

Ullum, 67, is accused of feeding Protonix and possibly Benadryl to Pixie, a Siberian husky that competed against another Siberian husky owned by Ullum's girlfriend at a Dec. 17 dog show at the DuPage County Fairgrounds. He was arrested after Pixie's handler found what appeared to be a crushed pink pill near Pixie's cage, and after several witnesses said they saw Ullum feed and pet the dog moments earlier, according to police.

On Thursday, defense attorney Edward M. Maloney said Ullum had no motive to harm Pixie because, contrary to an earlier account by authorities, his girlfriend's husky had already won the competition.

"Mr. Ullum denies he gave any pills to the dog," Maloney said. "The contest was over. There really was no reason to do anything to harm the dog."

Police said a veterinarian at the show induced Pixie to vomit, finding an undigested pill marked "Protonix," along with dog food, chicken and a rubber band. Police said they also recovered a wadded up paper towel containing a white substance and apparent pill pieces from the men's bathroom trash.

Ullum acknowledged petting Pixie and using the restroom, according to a police report, but he denied feeding the dog and throwing anything in the trash.

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Authorities said Pixie wasn't seriously hurt. The American Kennel Club since has suspended Ullum's privileges to assist his girlfriend, who competed against Pixie's handler at several previous shows.

"It's a very highly competitive world in the AKC," Maloney said. "I think emotions were flying high that day."

According to a police report, authorities believe the pink substance 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.

Pixie's handler, based in New York, and the dog's owner, a Florida veterinarian, declined to comment while the case is pending. Prosecutors said Ullum, who has requested a bench trial, faces up to a year in jail if convicted.