Rafa was due to judge a number of breeds at the world show but was unable to carry out any judging. It is understood that he was taken ill in Spain at the World Dog Show and passed away in hospital in Barcelona.
In a statement released on social media, the FCI said,
‘The FCI wish to convey the very sad news, of the passing earlier today, of Rafael de Santiago. Rafael has served the FCI General Committee for decades in various capacities such as Treasurer, Vice President and also as President from 2013-2019.
‘Our heartfelt condolences to all who mourn the loss of this great man, who has dedicated his life and tirelessly served the world of Cynology and the FCI faithfully and with passion.
‘As per his last wish, please do not send flowers, but instead make a donation to the UKU fund in Rafael's memory.
‘May he Rest in Eternal Peace.’
FCI President Tamás Jakkel said in a statement, ‘In this hour we have a great loss both in professional and personal levels. I hope that his soul finally can fly free.
‘Please, Rafael keep giving us your clever, human advises wherever you are now.
‘Rafael's last will was NOT to send any flowers, but remembering him by sending a small donation to the FCI Fund helping the UKU.
‘My condolences go to his family and friends.’
In 1972, in partnership with Roberto Vélez-Picó, Rafael founded the world famous Radesa line of Afghan Hounds. This launched them onto international dog show circuit both as exhibitors and breeders showing their dogs in the United States, Europe and Latin America.
Rafael was an FCPR International All Breed judge, since 1984. He judged in six continents including at 20 FCI World Dog Shows, the Supreme FCI Champion of Champions Show in Switzerland, Westminster in New York, the AKC/Eukanuba National Championship and the Eukanuba World Challenge.
He judged the Best in Show at the World Dog Show in his home city, San Juan, Puerto Rico in 1997. Professionally, he was president of an advertising and public relations firm.
Mr. de Santiago’s relationship to the FCI began in 1979 when he got the Kennel Club of Puerto Rico recognised as member of the FCI.
In 1991, was elected as member of the Standard Commission and serve two terms. At the 1999 FCI General Assembly, de Santiago was elected as member of the General Committee and appointed as Treasurer of the FCI. He occupied this position until 2011 when he was re-elected to the General Committee and appointed as Vice-President of the FCI.
In May 2013, in Budapest, Rafael de Santiago was elected as President of the FCI by a great majority of votes becoming the first non-European person to be elected as president by the General Assembly of the Federation Cynologique Internationale. In his speech before the General Assembly, Rafael, presented the FCI Plan for the Future, a very comprehensive plan to take the World’s most important dog organization to the next level of excellence, with innovation, technology, research and teamwork.
OUR DOGS Managing Director Vince Hogan added, “Our condolences to Rafael’s partner Roberto, and family, friends and colleagues. Rafa was a popular ambassador for the world of dogs…. he was always willing to be interviewed and was easy to talk to and had a keen sense of humour. I will miss him around the international shows as I am sure will many others”