MADRID – Today is World Galgo Day. This means the fate of the Spanish galgo is considered. Because February 1 marks the end of the hunting season and with it the beginning of the massive abandonment or even killing of these hunting dogs.
Every year, after the hunting season, about 50,000 galgos are abandoned. World Galgo Day is therefore promoted by animal rights organisations and associations of friends of the greyhounds. Furthermore, they aim to make the general public aware of the abuse these animals undergo. They try to give the animals a second chance by rescuing them and offering them up for adoption as pets.
Hunting dogs left out of the Animal protection law
Spanish law hardly protects these hunting dogs. This year, for CAS International World Galgo Day has an extra mourning edge: Spain is about to vote for the first national animal protection law and hunting dogs are left out. It is a remarkable situation: the governing parties PSOE and Unidas Podemos jointly presented this law to the Council of Ministers, which then approved it.
Consequently, the hunting industry then threatened that the socialists would lose state elections in rural areas because of this move. Hunters frame the bill as an attack on rural life in Spain. And that threat became reality in Andalusia’s last elections: the socialists lost dramatically. Therefore, PSOE, with the support of opposition parties, removed hunting dogs from the bill.
Maite van Gerwen, director of CAS International: “It is a tragedy for the hunting dogs that they fall outside the new animal welfare law. Dumping, mistreating and killing these dogs simply remains unpunished in Spain.”
Therefore, the animal welfare organisation CAS International will participate this Sunday, February 5, in the mass protests in several cities in Spain against the abuses and/or killing of hunting dogs in Spain.
Galgo and podenco
The galgo is one of the breeds of dogs in Spain that suffers the most from humans. Another breed of dog that has a hard time in Spain is the Spanish podenco. For centuries, galgo and podenco hunting has played a vital role in many rural Spanish communities. Here a large part of the population is ‘galguero’ (hunter).
Galgo as a disposable item
When the hunting season is over and the galgos are no longer “of use”, the greyhounds are discarded as a disposable item. In practice, this means that they are abandoned or killed, sometimes only after a long journey. Hunters deny they are responsible for this. Many hounds are left to their own devices or taken to a shelter or killing station. Here they are killed after ten days in many federal states, with lack of space as the reason. However, before that, they usually sit starving and lonely in the desolate, chilly cages, waiting for their death. Animal activists and staff at shelters scour the killing stations in February to save as many galgos as possible.
Hung on trees
Less fortunate are the galgos that are left alive in pits. Here they have no chance of survival and they face starvation. Greyhounds that misbehave in the eyes of the hunters are often killed in a sadistic way: they are hung from trees just before touching the ground. This leads to a slow and brutal death.
Violent training methods
Apart from the phase after the hunting season, life as a hunting or running dog in Spain is also very hard. The training methods used demand a lot from them physically and mentally. Violence is often used to force the animals into their activities. An example of such training is the dog being tied to the back of a car, forced to run after the car while it is moving. In this way, they are tested for endurance and speed and they are trained for this.