Prominent greyhound trainer charged after five dogs die

John McInerney is one of the country's most prominent greyhound trainers.

Kavinda Herath

John McInerney is one of the country’s most prominent greyhound trainers.

One of the country’s top greyhound trainers has been charged with negligence after five of his dogs died from suffocation.

It is understood six dogs belonging to Darfield-based trainer John McInerney were being transported in a van, by ferry, across the Cook Strait when five of the dogs died in January.

Racing Integrity Unit general manager Mike Godber confirmed an investigation was carried out following the deaths. McInerney and the driver of the van had since been charged with negligence. Godber said he could not comment further. 

Kavinda Herath / Stuff

Brook Wate spoke with Stuff in May about how the team transports greyhounds to race meetings.

Judicial Control Authority executive officer Catherine Hutton said a hearing was set down for August 23. A venue was still being arranged.

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McInerney declined to comment on Friday.

John McInerney pictured with Classy Baxter.

John Hawkins

John McInerney pictured with Classy Baxter.

The greyhound trainer finished second in last season’s trainers’ premiership, with 646 race winners and $1,257,868 in stakes. His 5819 starters was more than any other trainer in the country, with 223 dogs in work, according to Greyhound Racing New Zealand.

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In June, McInerney lined up 62 of the 106 dogs at a meeting in Invercargill, winning 13 of 14 races. He couldn’t make it a clean sweep because he had no runners in race two.

A month earlier, McInerney told Stuff two vans with trailers and a converted mini were used to transport the greyhounds dogs.

“I’ve got good staff and everyone knows what to do.

“They all love dogs.”

At the time, one of his senior staff members, Brooke Wate said the team had a procedure in place, with three driver’s and three co-pilots.

“We try and have 10 dogs per person and we all have our specified jobs but we all work together as a team preparing drinks, emptying dogs, organising them for the kenneling process and during kenneling all six of us are involved in that process.”

On Friday, Greyhound Protection League spokeswoman Emily Robertson said it was “most likely” the dogs died from the heat while being transported.

“Obviously it’s tragic, but with greyhounds they’re transported quite frequently between different destinations, when they’re sold to different trainers or when they’re raced.”

“They can be kept in quite cramped conditions, quite a few jammed into a trailer where they can barely stand up. Dogs aren’t as good as humans at regulating their body temperature, they can’t sweat so it’s sad but it’s not surprising that some might die during transport.”

McInerney appeared before his sport’s authority after some of his dogs

tested positive for procaine in 1997, heptaminol in 2001, codeine and hydroxystanozolol in 2010, caffeine in 2013 and ketoprofen in 2017.

In the 2017 case, the Judicial Control Authority observed “there was no malicious intent” and “Mr McInerney maintains a very professional kennel of the highest standard”.

McInerney has five kennel blocks at his Darfield property. He trains about 100 dogs at Darfield and another 50 at his Palmerston North kennel, operated by his son.

 – Stuff

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