Hear a former show dog and other devocalized dogs in this video.
The sudden death of Cruz, a Westminster show dog, shortly after the show closed in March 2013 was a tragedy.
Incredibly, the young Samoyed's handler suggested animal activists poisoned him. That's absurd. Those who devote their lives to protecting animals do not murder them.
Cruz's co-owner didn't want a necropsy, so it's unclear what killed him--which makes the allegation even more outrageous.
Board-certified veterinary surgeon Joel Woolfson, DVM, DACVS, says there are many possible causes for the blood Cruz vomited before he died. Stress is one.
According to the American Kennel Club, quoted in an Associated Press article, Cruz was flown from Georgia to New York on Monday, exhibited at Westminster on Tuesday, and flown to Denver the following morning. That's where he later became ill.
Such rigorous travel is stressful enough for a human, let alone a dog.
Others possible causes of Cruz's vomiting include a virus, toxin, tumor or ulcer; or ingestion of a sharp object. However, Dr. Woolfson cautions that without a necropsy--which the owner refused--there's no way to know. WHAT WE DO KNOW: CRUZ WAS DEVOCALIZED This young dog's vocal cords had been cut to stifle his voice. That may have kept him quiet in the ring, good for his owners and handler. But it didn't benefit him.
Devocalization (sometimes called "bark softening" or "bark reduction") is surgery with potentially fatal risks regardless of the vet's skill, the instrument used, the amount of tissue removed and the surgical route--through the animal's open mouth or an incision in the neck.
Scar tissue that develops in the throat after this convenience surgery can impair breathing and swallowing. That increases the risk of choking--a terrifying way to die--and heatstroke, even when it's not hot.
Other potential outcomes include damage to the larynx, which can cause animals to inhale food, liquids or vomit into their lungs and could lead to fatal pneumonia.
WHAT'S A LIFE WORTH? This advice, which someone posted on the Facebook page of Cruz's owner, speaks volumes about the value some placed on his life and the tragedy of his death:
"There is a way to flush sperm cells out of the testicles after a dog dies. It is a time sensitive procedure."