Peter Belmont Jr. excelled as a breeder, judge and handler of championship dogs.
And now news that Belmont was the victim of a homicide in Kansas City, Kan., is reverberating through the close-knit dog show community across the country and around the world.
Belmont’s body was discovered Sunday afternoon, but Kansas City, Kan., police have not released details about how the 69-year-old retired educator was killed.
For decades, Belmont was best known on the dog show circuit for his devotion to the breeding of Afghan hounds under the kennel name of Elmo. His renown was international.
Patricia Egan, president of the Afghan Hound Club of New South Wales in Australia, wrote in an email Tuesday that she had worked closely with Belmont in his work as a show judge.
“As well as being a legend in the Afghan hound world as a breeder of beautiful hounds under his ‘Elmo’ prefix, he was personally charming, friendly and helpful, and endlessly knowledgeable about the breed,” Egan wrote. “His loss in such tragic circumstances will be mourned by the dog showing community worldwide.”
Longtime friend Duane Doll, who co-owns a Florida-based publishing company that featured columns by Belmont in some of its magazines, first met Belmont about 40 years ago when Belmont taught at Wichita State University.
According to an online biography, Belmont earned a master’s from New York University and completed his doctorate work at Columbia University. He taught art at every level from kindergarten to graduate level university classes.
Another show judge, Patrick Byrne, said Belmont taught at schools in Wyandotte County before he took early retirement to devote more time to judging shows internationally.
“He was really excited about judging several upcoming big shows in Germany,” Byrne said.
Belmont was an accomplished artist, specializing in paintings and sculptures of his beloved Afghan hounds, according to California artist Susan Bahary.
Several friends said it is suspicious that Belmont’s two dogs got loose on Friday night. The puppy was injured when he was struck by a car. They wonder if the dogs got loose when Belmont was killed.
Byrne said Belmont was very careful about making sure the wrought iron gate around his property was secured whenever he let his dogs out to run.
“Something must have spooked the dogs,” Byrne said.
Police ask anyone with information about Belmont’s death to call the TIPS Hotline at 816-474-8477.