The Norwegian owner and breeder of a champion German shepherd that was killed, along with 13 other pedigree show dogs when fire ripped through kennels in Co Kildare, has said he recently rejected an offer of €40,000 for the 73-time best in breed winner.
Gardai, who conducted a forensic examination of the burned out kennels, have now established the fire was the result of an accident.
As well as the champion German Shepherd 'Zanta av Quantos', Norwegian breeder Tor Johansen also lost another champion dog -- a Pembroke corgi 'Alex av Quantos'.
Among the 12 other dogs that perished in the fire at kennels controlled by the Woodhaven Show Team based at Donore, Co Kildare, not far from Clane, were an Afghan hound, a Spanish water dog and a Sealyham terrier -- all worth thousands of euro.
Woodhaven Show Team, headed up by professional dog handlers Justin Carroll and his wife Dorethea, specialise in showing dogs all over Europe on behalf of owners and have won scores of awards.
The fire occurred at a building at Newtown, Donore, on Thursday, August 16. Four units of the fire service, two from Naas and two from Newbridge, attended the incident and arrived on site at 4.38pm less than 15 minutes after the alarm was raised but the fire was already well established.
Nine dogs are believed to have survived. Most of the dogs had been sent to Woodhaven by overseas owners. Among them was Mr Tor Johansen who told the Sunday Independent that he had been told about the fire by Mr Carroll the day after but has since heard nothing more.
"I spoke to them the day after the fire but since then I have not been able to contact them," Mr Johansen said.
Mr Johansen, who heads up the well-established Quantos dog breeding operation in Lillesand, Norway, said that he decided to send his dogs to Kildare because ill health had made travelling and showing the dogs too arduous.
The German shepherd Zanta Av Quantos was Norway's top show dog and represented the country at the Eukanuba World Challenge last year. The bitch was five- and-a-half years old.
"For me the dog was worth more than money but I was not insured for this loss.
"I turned down 300,000 Norwegian Krone for Zanta (€40,000). I was very pleased with what Woodhaven did. The dog was in great shape and was winning lots of shows. I could have sold the dog in the US for a lot of money -- but I said 'no thanks'," he added.
Mr and Mrs Carroll could not be contacted for comment.
In 2006 Mr Carroll was banned from showing for five years in Ireland by the Irish Kennel Club for technical breaches of IKC rules. The ban expired in February 2011.