Greyhound Wins Race but is Later Discovered to be on Methamphetamine

A three-year-old female Italian greyhound named Zipping Sarah was caught with drugs In her system after beating her competition in a high-stakes race. Now, New Zealand's entire greyhound racing industry has come under investigation.

Zipping Sarah finished first place in the "Len, Jane and Penny Hart Memorial Feature" at the Canterbury Greyhound Racing Club meeting held at the Addington Raceway in Christchurch on November 12, according to Global News.

Her glory was short-lived, however, when she tested positive for methamphetamine and amphetamine in a post-race urine sample test. Following the discovery, dog trainer Angela Helen Turnwald was disqualified for four months, fined $3,500, and was stripped off of the winning stake, which was over $4,000.

The Judicial Control Authority for Racing (JCA) is awaiting to conclude on when the drug was injected. In an official judgment released by JCA on April 21 they said: "Upon interviewing by the Racecourse Investigator, the respondent (Turnwald) and her partner (a Licensed Kennel Hand,) could offer no explanation for the positive result. No products likely to contain derivatives of the Prohibited Substances were present at her premises."

The trainer claims that "the greyhound had been transported, together with another greyhound, from Foxton via road and ferry to Christchurch by her partner, during the day of the race," according to the judgment.

"He had stopped for a few hours at a friend's place at Kaiapoi, north of Christchurch. There the Greyhound and its companion were removed from the trailer for exercise, with 'Zipping Sarah' being handled by the friend of the Kennel Hand."

JCA panel chairman Warwick Gendall QC expressed concern over the find, saying, "Methamphetamine is a potent central nervous system stimulant which poses significant animal welfare issues and the level of Amphetamine (as it metabolized from Methamphetamine) in the sample was particularly large."

Gendall added that impressive character references in support of Turnwald and a personal statement had some bearing on the ultimate punishment handed down by the committee.

Zipping Sarah has a track record of 11 first-place wins and second or third place titles in nine and 11 races respectively. Turnwald's dogs have collectively won over $167,000 in stake money and, until Zipping Sarah, her record of training greyhounds was spotless.

According to the data by Greyhound Racing New Zealand (GRNZ), the governing body for Greyhound Racing in New Zealand, Turnwald has trained 22 dogs in 285 starts with 47 first winning places, 37 seconds, and 39 thirds.

Will Appelbe, the spokesperson for animal rights group SAFE, asked the government "to halt all greyhound racing until its recently announced review of the industry is complete."

"Dogs are being killed, injured and doped," said Appelbe in a media release on April 22. "That's the state of greyhound racing in Aotearoa right now. It's abhorrent."

Since January, eight dogs have died and more than 300 have been injured as a result of racing, the media release said.

Just last week, the Minister for Racing, Grant Robertson, who is also the Deputy Prime Minister of New Zealand; and the Minister responsible for animal welfare, Meka Whaitiri, announced a government review of the greyhound racing industry.

According to Radio New Zealand, Robertson said that "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."

Zipping Sarah's status shows "retired" since the incident.

Methamphetamine has been an increasing issue of concern not only in regards to human addiction but the potential impact on animals and wildlife. In 2019, Tennesse police warned residents not to flush drugs down the toilet as such actions could create "methed-up animals."

Greyhound wins race on methamphetamine
A general view of racing action as the greyhounds turn into the home straight at Coral Brighton and Hove Greyhound Stadium on February 08, 2019 in Brighton, England. Alan Crowhurst/GETTY