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WHEATON (CBS) – A Pennsylvania man accused of drugging a dog at a west suburban dog show in hopes of helping his girlfriend’s dog’s chances of winning was found not guilty Wednesday.
DuPage County prosecutors alleged 68-year-old Ralph Ullum slipped human drugs to Pixie, a prize-winning Siberian husky on Dec. 17 so a husky trained by his girlfriend would have a better chance of winning the American Kennel Club-sanctioned show.
Ullum faced misdemeanor charges that include animal cruelty and attempted criminal damage to property; prosecutors said he gave Protonix and a second drug, possibly Benadryl, to Pixie.
But DuPage County Judge Ronald Sutter found Ullum innocent of the charges Wednesday, saying prosecutors hadn’t proved their case against him.
Pixie wasn’t harmed by the drugs, but neither she nor the dog trained by Ullum’s girlfriend won the coveted best in show award.
The dog’s owner, Jessica Plourde, testified Monday she hadn’t given Pixie any drugs, but still found pill fragments in and around Pixie’s cage last year during a Wheaton dog show.
An undigested pill was discovered after a veterinarian induced the white-and-brown female show dog to vomit, Plourde testified Monday.
Defense attorney Ed Maloney contended the allegations against his client were unfounded, suggesting they came as the result of a long-running competition between rival dog trainers. He noted that when witnesses said they saw Ullum putting something into Pixie’s cage, the dog already had finished competing.
Two witnesses testified they saw Ullum walk up to Pixie’s cage while Plourde was absent, then slip something inside, though neither could identify what he gave the dog.
“I saw him put something into her crate and she ate it,” said Terri Meyers, another trainer working near Pixie’s cage.
A veterinarian testified a pink substance found in and around Pixie’s cage appeared to be Benadryl, a human anti-allergy medication, or Acepromazine, an animal tranquilizer.
Both likely would have caused “drowsiness,” though Benadryl would have had a less severe effect on the dog, Patricia Meiser said.
She said an undigested pill found after Pixie vomited appeared to be Protonix, a human drug used to treat acid reflux and heartburn.
That drug likely would have prevented the dog from vomiting, said Meiser, who also shows dogs.
Questioned by Ullum’s attorney, Meiser said AKC rules bar drugging dogs before a show to control their behavior.
Plourde during her testimony said she never gave Pixie Benadryl, though she acknowledged some trainers may feed it to their dogs to try to calm them.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2011. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)