Dog trainer pleads guilty after greyhound tests positive for meth

Zipping Sarah, a greyhound, was discovered to have methamphetamine and amphetamine in her system after finishing first at a race in Churchill, New Zealand.

Brendan Boucher Ottawa ON

A dog and trainer have been suspended in New Zealand after the dog tested positive for methamphetamine following a race victory in November.

Zipping Sarah, a greyhound, was discovered to have methamphetamine and amphetamine in her system after finishing first at a race in Churchill, New Zealand in November. Zipping Sarah originally was awarded a prize of $4011 for the finish.

The trainer, Angela Helen Turnwald, is one of the top trainers in New Zealand having fielded dogs that placed in the top 3 of competition in more than 50 percent of her nearly 300 appearances.

Turnwald has since been suspended for 4 months, fined $3,500 and ordered to repay the original prize money. Trunwald also plead guilty for failing to produce a substance free dog for a race, but will face no jail time.

How the methamphetamine got into Zipping Sarah's system remains a mystery. Zipping Sarah was brought to the track by a friend of Turnwald, who is also a licensed kennel owner. The friend stopped by another friend's house on the way to the race and it is believed that is where the dog encountered the drugs.

Turnwald's original defence was that the methamphetamine was transferred to the dog by acquaintances who pet the dog in the hours before the race. Turnwald admitted there was meth being smoked at the house the dog visited immediately before the race.

The Judicial Control Authority (JCA) said this was not possible because of the quantity of meth in the dogs system was "particularly large." Turnwald then abandoned that defence, but never clarified how the drugs could have entered the dogs system.

This is the third doping case involving greyhound in the last six months according to animal rights group Safe. Advocacy groups like Safe are using this case as an example of the problems and abuse allegedly plaguing the dog racing industry. The industry has been accused of excessive euthanasia and covering up the disappearances of other dogs.  

The New Zealand Minister of Racing Grant Robertson called the incident "completely unacceptable" and had previously announced an inquiry into animal welfare in greyhound racing.


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