England football star Chris Smalling was devastated tonight after his dog died in a suspected poisoning.
The Manchester United defender, 30, fears beloved pet Miley ate rat poison left in the grounds of his home in Rome, where he is on loan.
Two other family dogs fell ill but pulled through. A source said of Chris and model wife Sam Cooke, 34: “They’re heartbroken.”
Watch LIVE coverage of La Liga, Bundesliga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and EFL Championship with beIN SPORTS on KAYO. New to Kayo? Get your 14-day free trial & start streaming instantly >
The couple were tonight trying to work out who would kill their cherished pet.
The England footballer and his Page 3 legend wife claim Miley was the victim of a mystery poisoner.
They revealed that the cocker spaniel-Jack Russell cross was one of three family dogs that fell ill after roaming the grounds of their sprawling home in Rome.
They are convinced all three ate rat poison which had been secretly spread on their land.
‘PART OF THE FAMILY’
Their other dog, a Hungarian Vizsla called Ruben, and Sam’s mum’s labrador Summer were sick too but managed to pull through.
The couple — who are living in the Italian capital while Manchester United defender Chris is playing on loan for Roma — were said to be “devastated” by the death.
A source said: “They’re not just dogs, they’re part of the family.
“Who knows why the rat poison was put down in that way. There’s no way they’d have let their dogs out if they were aware the substance was there.”
In an online post Sam said: “When Miley collapsed the vet found a tumour and put the internal bleeding which led to her death down to that, but it turns out that wasn’t the problem.
“A few days later Ruben and my mum’s dog got ill and, although dismissed by vets, we realised that they had all eaten rat poison that had carelessly been put in our garden uncovered without our knowledge.
“Obviously Miley being older and smaller was affected the most.
“Ruben and Summer are on medication and doing much better and will make a full recovery. It’s an awful situation but we are all coping well and trying to implement the many lessons this sad situation has presented us with.
“Acceptance, forgiveness, faith and making the most of life knowing how quickly it can be taken to name a few.”
She said she wrote the post to urge other dog owners to be more careful.
‘IN MY HEART FOREVER’
Sam added: “Big love to all our furry friends and especially Miley who will be in my heart forever.”
Dad-of-one Chris was so besotted with Miley he would take her to fancy restaurants — where she would get her own seat — and even flew her out to join him during the Euro 2016 tournament in France.
The pampered dog was once pictured in first class on a train from London to Manchester — with a plate of chopped-up sausage in front of her.
Posting that snap online, Sam declared: “One spoilt pooch! Have to give it to her though! She’s made me proud in London! Been a dream.
“Loved the underground and the London bus! She had a blast on her London holiday.”
Miley enjoyed regular grooming, having her coat curled in rollers and had also been pictured accompanying Chris to training and with the couple on holiday.
She joined them in Rome after Smalling was loaned from Manchester United and was driven there in a camper-van.
After moving into the home last October, Chris said: “I lived in a hotel for a month and we moved into a beautiful house last week.
“It’s 700 years old, just outside Rome. It’s surrounded by greenery which is important with our dogs.”
The couple’s Instagram accounts are littered with pictures of the pooches.
‘JUST SO LOVING’
On December 31, they posted a family picture holding their little boy Leo flanked by the three dogs.
Last August, they arranged a professional baby shoot for their son — with Miley alongside him.
The couple are staunch vegans, committed to animal welfare.
Last year Chris put the boot into dog owners who leave their pets in hot cars.
In a video filmed by animal welfare campaigners PETA, he said: “In the time it takes to pop into the supermarket for a loaf of bread, your best friend could bake to death.”
Last February caring Chris took time out of his busy training schedule to visit the Dogs Trust centre in Manchester to meet a puppy that had been named after him.
On a previous visit he said: “I think that dogs are just so loving.
“The fact that no matter what kind of day you’ve had, you can come home and they’re always so happy to see you. They’re always there no matter what.”