Greyhound trainer facing ban after dog tests positive for meth

Canterbury trainer John McInerney. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY / ODT
Canterbury trainer John McInerney. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY / ODT
Canterbury greyhound trainer John McInerney has been charged by the Racing Integrity Board after one of his dogs tested positive for methamphetamine and another was left in pain and distress for five days.

At a Racing Integrity Board penalty hearing on Monday, the Darfield-based trainer was facing a disqualification of between 12 to 18 months.

His dog Alpha Riley was found to have methamphetamine in its system after routine drug testing.

Investigators also say another dog, Impressive Isla, was found in "clear and visible pain and distress" in October last year.

McInerney was also investigated last year after handing 11 greyhounds over to a rehoming kennel, eight of whom presented with severe signs of neglect and mistreatment.

He has previously been prosecuted and fined after five of his dogs suffocated to death inside a van on a Cook Strait crossing. He also has a long history of his dogs testing positive for banned substances, with incidents occurring in 1997, 2001, 2010, 2013, 2017, and 2023.

Animal rights group SAFE says the greyhound racing system in New Zealand is "clearly not working and a ban on the industry is overdue".

Said campaign manager Anna de Roo: "Greyhounds are abused again and again and by the same trainers, and the penalties do nothing.

"It’s not surprising that that both Labour and National committed to banning greyhound racing in the lead up to the election. It’s the only way to protect greyhounds."

De Roo the latest charges against McInerney are part of a broader pattern of abuse within the industry.

"Just 4 months ago another trainer was charged after throwing a greyhound with enough force that they hit their head on the back of a kennel, and throwing another greyhound a metre from the lure.

"This trainer also had a previous methamphetamine charge.

"The industry is rife with harm and abuse. Once greyhounds are treated as commodities, animal welfare goes out the door."

De Roo says the public overwhelmingly supports a ban on the industry with an independent poll stating 74 per cent of New Zealanders would vote to ban greyhound racing in a referendum.

"The end to greyhound racing can’t come soon enough.

"Incoming Prime Minister Christopher Luxon has already committed to banning greyhound.

"As soon as a new Government is formed, they must take urgent action to protect greyhounds."

Greyhound Racing NZ chief executive Edward Rennell told Newshub: "There is no place in our industry for those who breach animal welfare standards, or for those who use drugs like methamphetamine in the vicinity of racing dogs."

Rennell told Newshub racing greyhounds are regularly drug tested and there has never been a case of deliberate administration of methamphetamine to a racing dog, only meth contamination.

It's not clear yet how the dog was contaminated but the hearing heard McInerney's son, who looked after the dogs, had a history of drug issues.

With McInerney disqualified, Newshub reported work is already under way to transfer ownership of the dogs to his other son.