SAFE calls for MPI investigation into greyhound racing meth case

Meth can enhance short-term performance, however there are serious side effects.
Meth can enhance short-term performance, however there are serious side effects. Photo credit: Getty Images

Animal rights organisation SAFE is calling for the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) to launch an investigation after a greyhound tested positive for methamphetamine.

Last month Foxton greyhound trainer Angela Turnwald was fined $3500 and disqualified for four months after her dog Zipping Sarah tested positive for meth.

The judgement released by the Judicial Control Authority (JCA) for Racing said the incident happened on November 12, 2020, at the Addington Raceway in Christchurch. 

Zipping Sarah had finished first in a race, winning a stake of just over $4000. The stake was not paid after methamphetamine and amphetamine were discovered in a post-race urine test. 

The JCA didn't reach a conclusion on when the drug was administered and said in its judgement Turnwald had not carried out "a deliberate wrongdoing".

In the JCA judgement, panel chairman Warwick Gendall QC noted meth poses "significant animal welfare issues" and there was a "particularly large" level of amphetamine - which is metabolised from methamphetamine - found in the sample.

SAFE said meth can enhance short-term performance, however there are serious side effects, including increased agitation, aggression, seizures, renal failure and death.

SAFE spokesperson Will Appelbe said this suffering warrants a criminal investigation. 

"This dog would have suffered and that's clearly an offence under the Animal Welfare Act. We urge MPI to open an investigation into this case."

He adds that given there was a positive test for meth "this should be an open and shut case". 

"Right now, dogs are being drugged in the racing industry. Why is meth on the dog racing track not treated as seriously as meth on the streets?"

MPI says the case involving Turnwald was not reported to MPI and has been dealt with by the JCA.

"All animal welfare offences reported are taken seriously and, as needed, are referred to the agencies best placed to investigate," a spokesperson said.

"In this case, it was appropriate that it be dealt with by the Judicial Control Authority (JCA), which found the trainer guilty and penalised her."