MANHATTAN (CN) - The American Kennel Club defamed a Siberian husky breeder by barring him from AKC events after a rival breeder falsely accused him of drugging her second-place pooch at a dog show, the dog man claims in court.
Ralph G. Ullum claims he was cleared of dog-drugging charges in a criminal trial.
He and Cheryl French, co-owners of Topaz Siberians Kennel, of Pennsylvania, for 33 years, breed, sell and train purebred Siberian huskies. They sued The American Kennel Club and its president Dennis Sprung, in New York County Supreme Court. Those are the only parties to the lawsuit.
Ullum claims in the complaint that Topaz entered several huskies in a dog show organized by the Starved Rock Kennel Club in Wheaton, Ill., on Dec. 17, 2010. After judging, a professional handler, Jessica Plourde, "discovered what she believed to be fragments of two different medications in or near the crate in which one of her dogs, also a Siberian Husky, was housed," the lawsuit states.
Plourde's dog came in second, while the plaintiffs' dog took first, Ullum says.
Plourde falsely accused him of trying to poison her dog, Pixie, "despite the fact that a veterinarian who happened to be attending the show in a non-official capacity examined the dog and found it to be bright, alert and responsive; showing no symptoms of illness or poisoning," according to the complaint.
Plourde went to local police and accused Ullum of poisoning her dog, and he was arrested, Ullum says. He says she also filed a formal complaint with the AKC and The Starved Rock Kennel Club Show Committee.
Ullum says he could not attend an AKC hearing because he was in jail, but acting as "both prosecutor and judge," the AKC and its president, Sprung, suspended him for 5 years and fined him $1,000.
As a result, Ullum and French say, they have been "ostracized, ridiculed, excluded and avoided by potential customers, breeders, buyers, sellers and other business clientele."
Ullum claims the AKC refused to reinstate him even after he was acquitted in a criminal trial in an Illinois court.
The AKC did not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The plaintiffs seek unspecified damages for defamation, tortious interference with business relationships, breach of contract and negligent infliction of emotional distress.
They are represented by Kevin D. O'Dell with MacCartney, MacCartney, Kerrigan & MacCartney, of Nyack.
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