Two witnesses testified Monday that they observed a Pennsylvania man slip something to a Siberian husky who was later found to have eaten at least one drug meant for humans during a suburban Chicago dog show. On Wednesday, the man was found not guilty of the charges.
Ralph Ullum, 68, faced misdemeanor charges including animal cruelty and attempted criminal damage to property for allegedly feeding drugs to the husky, a rival of another dog that his girlfriend had trained, the Chicago Sun-Times reports. The goal, DuPage County prosecutors say, was to weaken the husky so that Ullum's girlfriend's dog stood a better shot at winning the "best in show" award at the American Kennel Club-sanctioned show in Wheaton, Ill., last December.
But DuPage County Judge Ronald Sutter said Wednesday said prosecutors failed to prove their case against Ullum and found him not guilty of all charges, according to the Sun-Times.
Two witnesses, Terri Meyers and Brandon Bish, on Monday said they saw Ullum put something into the cage of the husky, who was being handled by Jessica Plourde of New York. Meyers testified that the man "put something into her crate and she ate it," while Bish also noted that he watched Ullum "shove something inside there," the Daily Herald reports. Plourde also reportedly noticed the remnants of a crushed pill in her dog's cage.
A veterinarian at the dog show said she examined the husky, induced it to vomit and found part of a pill she said was Protonix, an antacid. She said another pill was either Benadryl or acepromazine, a dog tranquilizer, according to the Daily Herald. Plourde denied that she herself gave her dog any of the drugs in question.
The husky was not hurt in the alleged drugging.
In response to the accusations, Ullum's attorney, Edward Maloney, said, "The state's case doesn't have four legs to stand on," the Chicago Tribune reports.
If convicted of the charges, Ullum could have been sentenced to a year in jail and a $2,500 fine.
CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story stated incorrectly that the dog show was held in Geneva, Ill. The show was held in Wheaton.