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Judge tosses lawsuit from dog breeder cleared of poisoning

By Laila Kearney

NEW YORK (Reuters) - A defamation lawsuit brought against the American Kennel Club by a dog breeder accused of poisoning a competitor's canine at an Illinois dog show has been thrown out, according to court records made public on Wednesday.

Pennsylvania breeder Ralph Ullum in November 2011 was cleared of charges, including animal cruelty, tied to the drugging of rival Siberian Husky, "Pixie," at a kennel club show in the Chicago suburb of Wheaton the prior year.

Following the acquittal, Ullum and his dog training partner Cheryl French sued the club and its president Dennis Sprung, claiming that the institution had published defamatory information about Ullum and French before and after the trial.

A New York Supreme Court judge tossed out the lawsuit on Friday in part because Ullum and French hadn't filed the defamation claims within a timely, one-year, period.

The lawsuit said that the club had posted statements on its website about the disciplinary actions it took against Ullum before the criminal trial had ended.

Ullum and French said the website publication had been viewed and distributed widely, inflicting emotional harm and hurting their breeding business, called Topaz Siberians.

The pair also claimed that the kennel organization had improperly fined and suspended Ullum from dog shows for five years for the suspected crime.

Aside from failing to file the lawsuit within one year of the published statements, Friday's dismissal said Ullum and French failed to prove that the club had acted improperly or with malicious intent.

Neither the American Kennel Club nor Topaz Siberians returned calls seeking comment.

(Reporting by Laila Kearney; Editing by Susan Heavey)