THE RHODESIAN Ridgeback who won the dog CC at Crufts has been shot dead in woods near his home in Belgium.

Three-year-old Int/Dutch/Bel/Dan/Pol/Swiss Ch Villagedogs Ka Makana was being walked on am extending lead when the first bullet clipped his lip.

He panicked and ran away, chased by Sam Pannemanns, with whom he lived, who found him dead shortly afterwards lying in a pool of blood.

Three more bullets had destroyed vertebrae, killing him instantly.

Owner and breeder Dorothy McGoldrick said police believe the shots were fired from a distance of no more than 100m. Although marksmen hunt deer in those woods it is believed this could have been a poacher or random gunman.

Mak was wearing a bright blue, wide collar which would have been clearly visible through a rifle’s telescopic sight.

“I believe he was gunned down deliberately,” Mrs McGoldrick said.

Mak is the second dog from Belgium to die after being shown at Crufts. The first was Irish Setter Thendara Satisfaction (Jagger) who died after consuming two pesticides.

Mak was killed while having his evening walk in Meerdaalwoud woods in Bierbeek, an area of recreational woodland used by children, cyclists and walkers. Mr Pannemanns and Mrs McGoldrick live nearby, and Mak and other Villagedogs Ridgebacks were walked there frequently. Mrs McGoldrick has been using the woods for 15 years.

“Sam didn’t realise he’d been shot when he ran away,” she said. “He pulled away and Sam ran after him. He found him lying in a pool of blood. He saw a man driving a mini Jeep out of the woods who knew how to open the barrier to leave and Sam confronted him, but he didn’t get a number plate or anything. He was in such a state after what had happened.”

Mak’s body was taken to Liege University for a post-mortem examination and bullet fragments were removed.

“The first shot caused a flesh wound to his lip, but the next ones completely destroyed the vertebrae, severing the spinal cord,” said Mrs McGoldrick, who is pictured above handling Mak at Crufts. “He would have died instantly.

“It’s hard to tell where the shots came from but they felt really close. It happened in a haze and we’re all in shock.”

Mak was the only dog being walked that evening as a bitch who would have been with him was ill.

“We will probably never go back there again,” Mrs McGoldrick said.

“I hope we will be able to find out whether it was a poacher or a hunter. It’s still the hunting season so people do walk around and shoot their guns but if legitimate hunting is taking place notices are put up saying live ammunition is being used, and that wasn’t the case this time.

“Hunters should know what they’re shooting at and the majority are careful and check before firing.

“The guns they use have a range of half a kilometre but this was much closer.”

Mrs McGoldrick said she believes Mak was killed deliberately.

“His one and a half inch thick collar was a beautiful dragonfly blue and that alone would have been seen easily. No one could have mistaken him for a deer.

“We thought he had been shot three times but we’ve just been told it was four so this cannot be thought of as an accident. He was gunned down deliberately; the only question is why. It’s absolutely horrible.”

Mrs McGoldrick now intends to lobby government.

“I’m hell bent on doing something about the hunting legislation in this country and I’m hoping to get a lot of support locally and from celebrities who know me and my dogs,” she said. “It could happen to anyone – a child – and it’s time the Government was approached to do something. Belgium is a well-populated country and there are potential dangers.

“I want to try to achieve something good from this bad situation. I am going to lobby Government about hunting practices in this country. Will I be successful? Probably not, but I will try for Mak. I have to go forward, I suppose, and try to figure out what to do next.”

Mak was a CC away from becoming a UK champion as well.

“He’d been entered at WELKS, and died after success at Crufts and many other shows,” Mrs McGoldrick said. “He was top stud dog in Europe and a huge part of our breeding programme. But at the end of the day was just our dog – he was wonderful, as sweet as anything with a temperament to die for.”

Mrs McGoldrick has six other Ridgebacks, including Crufts 2011 BOB winner Ch Villagedogs Hot Topic, who is Mak’s sire,

“Now everything has fallen to pieces but it is Mak, our dog, we miss the most. We don’t care about his showing success and I’d give everything he won away just to have him back again.

“I still have his mum and dad so maybe we can try again with this line and see if we can get something similar to Mak. I hope so.”