A greyhound trainer has been disqualified for four months and fined $3500, after methamphetamine was found in one of her dogs.
Last week, the Minister for Racing, Grant Robertson, and the Minister responsible for animal welfare, Meka Whaitiri, announced a government review of the greyhound racing industry.
Robertson said he was concerned about track safety and cited “far too many incidents” recently where dogs had died or been injured and said he could not rule out shutting down the industry altogether.
The latest case has prompted animal rights group SAFE to call on the government to halt all greyhound racing until the review of the industry is complete.
The judgement released by the Judicial Control Authority for Racing said that the incident involving Foxton trainer Angela Helen Turnwald and her dog Zipping Sarah, happened on 12 November last year at the Addington Raceway in Christchurch.
Zipping Sarah finished first, winning a stake of just over $4000. However, the stake was not paid after post-race urine samples revealed methamphetamine and amphetamine in its system.
The dog was one of two brought from Foxton to Christchurch on the day of the race by a licensed kennel hand who stopped for a short time to visit a friend in Kaiapoi.
The JCA did not reach a conclusion on when the drug had been administered and said in its judgement that Turnwald had not carried out “a deliberate wrongdoing”.
However, JCA panel chairman Warwick Gendall QC said: “Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant which poses significant animal welfare issues and the level of Amphetamine (as it metabolised from Methamphetamine) in the sample was particularly large.”
It was crucial to deter others and to signal to the greyhound industry that methamphetamine related breaches would not be tolerated.
The authority had received impressive character references in support of Turnwald and a detailed personal statement to which the authority gave some weight, Gendall said.
Until the case Turnwald had a blameless record over a lengthy period of training greyhounds. She had paid the winning stake to her owners and her reputation had been damaged, Gendall said.
Turnwald was disqualified for four months to take effect from 30 April and ordered to pay $3500 in costs.
The case has prompted animal rights group SAFE to call on the government to halt all greyhound racing until its recently announced review of the industry is complete.
It said it is the third doping case in the greyhound racing industry in the last six months.
SAFE spokesperson Will Appelbe said: “Giving a dog methamphetamine to improve their race performance is depraved, it’s abhorrent. It’s a reality in greyhound racing in New Zealand at the moment.”
Since January, eight dogs have died and more than 300 have been injured as a result of racing.
“The government’s review is promising, but every day that dogs are raced, the risk of painful injury is high and death is never far away. To protect dogs, the Minister should immediately halt racing until the review is complete.”