Crufts this year has become embroiled in another wave of controversy after 160,000 people have signed petitions across the world to strip American winner Rebecca Cross of her 'Best In Show' accolade, after she was filmed picking up her five-year-old Scottish terrier Knopa by his neck and tail.

Rebecca Cross mishandled her dog at Crufts

Rebecca Cross mishandled her dog at Crufts

The footage led to the creation of online petitions which accused judges at Crufts of "turning a blind eye", but despite organisers repeatedly warning Cross about handling they will not remove the title. An apology was almost immediately made after footage of Ms Cross handling her dog emerged, and The Kennel Club explained they'd warned her not to do it but recognised it was "customary" in the United States.

Ms Cross herself issued an apology stating that she "didn't do it on purpose, it was just habit", adding: "It's just one of those things. It happened and I tried to really think about it and not do it, but it's habit."

A second statement from The Kennel Club has said that it wouldn't be "fair" to strip the dog of its Best In Show award due its owner's behaviour, with a spokesman adding that although there's "clear guidance" on how to not handle a dog, procedures would be reviewed in light of the incident.

They continued: "'We completely understand the concerns about how Knopa, the Best in Show dog, was handled on the judging table.

"A decision will be made by committee about what action may be taken within the current rules and guidance. In this specific case an investigation is underway and a decision will be made by committee about the actions that have been taken by the exhibitor at Crufts and the next steps.

"The judge's primary focus is on the dogs themselves and we do not believe it would be fair to strip the dog of its Best in Show title because the dog was awarded this prize based on its own merits in the show ring."

Anger is growing after new photographs have emerged which purport to show an entrant beating his dog, and now the RSPCA and Kennel Club have launched a probe into the alleged incident which took place in the Birmingham NEC car park.

The RSPCA said in a statement: "The RSPCA is urging anyone with information about the alleged dog beating to contact us directly, in confidence on 0300 123 8018. We received a complaint about this the day after the incident (March 9 2015) and would urge anyone who witnessed the alleged incident to contact us urgently."

The Kennel Club went on to add: "The Kennel Club has been made aware of an alleged incident outside the NEC during Crufts, which has led to accusations of cruelty in the way a man was treating his dog.

"We understand that a photograph purporting to show the man in question mistreating the dog, is circulating online and the Kennel Club is looking into this as a matter of priority, as any type of animal cruelty will not be tolerated.

"We will be liaising with the NEC to gather any evidence of what happened and until that time we are not in a position to comment further."

This comes after it was reported earlier this week that six dogs in total had been poisoned at the show, with Irish setter Jagger dying due to the "pesticide" type poison he had consumed.

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