Fur fight: Pet comp rocked by vote-rigging claims
THE claws are out in one of Queensland's richest pet competitions, with allegations of vote-rigging made by some contestants.
Competitors in the RACQ Pet Search, which carries a $5000 prize purse, are barking mad as a cat named Miss Coconut racks up a substantial number of votes.
Rival pet owners have questioned how the fine feline has accumulated sudden surges in online voting, which has the cat well ahead of the pack in the quest for competition glory.
In the preliminary rounds, Miss Coconut registered almost 30,000 votes, thousands ahead of her rivals, and she has also skipped well clear of second-placed Biggie, a British bulldog from Beaudesert, in the finals.
People can vote multiple times, but must wait at least an hour between voting.
Eagle-eyed pet owners reported sudden voting surges, often in the dead of night, with complaints made to RACQ and the Queensland Police Service.
But a QPS spokesman yesterday confirmed the complaint was not being investigated.
RACQ said it had launched an investigation, but found no evidence of anything untoward.
Spokeswoman Kirsty Clinton said the organisation conducted a thorough forensic analysis.
"There is no evidence of cheating by any pets in the final 12," she said. "If we were to find evidence of cheating, they'd be removed from the competition immediately."
Biggie's owner Bianca Muddle, who said she was subjected to malicious rumours online, yesterday vowed to continue campaigning for her pooch to take the title.
"This is not about being a sore loser. It's the principle, and I would feel the same whether it was me or any one of the other 11 finalists," she said.
Tracey Evans, whose cat Casper was jostling with Miss Coconut for the title before being swept aside in a voting avalanche, took dozens of screen shots showing the sudden voting surges and complained to police, but said she was told by officers she could not make a formal complaint as she was not the victim of any alleged crime.
Miss Coconut's owner declined to be interviewed, but said she didn't feel comfortable talking due to the negative things that have been said and posted about her and her cat online.
Voting closes on August 19 with the winner announced the next day.