Animals In Print
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15 March 2010 Issue

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Abuse and Abandonment of Galgos(similiar to greyhounds) in Spain

Exposed By Humane Society International

© Neil Trent/HSI - A Spanish galgo.

The galgo, a breed of dog native to Spain, is similar to a greyhound. Because they have particular stamina, galgos are used to hunt rabbits and boars on the Spanish plains.

The abuse that many Spanish galgos experience revolves around two main issues: unsanitary and inhumane breeding in puppy mills, and the abandonment or killing of the dogs by hunters.

Galgos are often bred in an environment with little or no compassion for animals. They may be kept in continuously dark barns, starved for food and attention. These dogs are seen as commodities—to be used for hunting and breeding only. They are over-bred and unvaccinated. It is common for breeders to mate two dogs so that they can keep one or two puppies and "dispose of" the rest of the litter.

Galgos have been mistreated for centuries. In the past, peasants often used galgos for hunting. Because the peasants could not afford to keep the dogs through the winter, they would often get rid of galgos by hanging the animals from trees. After the hanging, peasants would cut down a galgo's body and leave it for wild animals to eat.

Laws Are Not Enough

Despite animal protection laws, galgos suffer unimaginably cruel deaths to this day. When a hunter feels a galgo is no longer in his prime, he will often hang the dog from a tree using rope or wire. The galgo may suffer for minutes or for hours, depending on the hunter's judgment of his dog's skills. If he believes the dog was a poor hunter, he will ensure that the galgo suffers for a long time.

"It is an awful situation, because most hunters see galgos as only tools," says Mireille Broeders of Greyhounds in Nood-Belgium. "It is a tradition that dogs who have not worked hard enough for their owners are punished in front of the other dogs. The hunters believe the dogs will work better after they have witnessed another dog hanged, beaten or worse." Animal protection laws and enforcement have dissuaded some hunters from hanging or shooting galgos; however, this means that the hunters will often abandon the dogs instead. Abandonment does not mean that galgos gallop freely in the countryside. To a galgo, it often means suffering and starvation. Galgos have been found deserted, with their legs broken. It is believed that hunters break the dog's legs so the dog cannot follow him home.

"A new investigation by the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA) has exposed the gruesome end awaiting thousands of Spanish hunting greyhounds, known as galgos, at the conclusion of hare hunting season.

"Investigators uncovered widespread evidence that the brutal practice of hanging dogs in Spain continues to this day. Dead greyhounds were discovered in shallow graves or lying under the tree where they were hung, rope still tied around their necks. The remains of others were found tossed unceremoniously on trash heaps or simply left to rot, still dangling at the end of a noose. Investigators also found that attempts were made to crudely cremate some galgos, the dogs set on fire where they hung.

"Perhaps most sickening was the discovery that poorly performing dogs are hung low so they experience the agonizingly slow, "piano player" death, named after the way their legs frantically scramble in a vain attempt to touch the ground. Unwanted galgos may also be stoned, tied up and left to starve, staked in a pond to drown or thrown into wells and set on fire. Those who have raced well are afford a more "favorable" end -they're hung high so they will strangle more quickly.

"WSPA estimates that tens of thousands of galgos are being bred and killed annually in rural areas. Says WSPA investigator Alistair Findlay, "It is scandalous that Spain, a country currently holding presidency of the European Union, is allowing man's best friend to be so cruelly and callously abused in this manner. This is a graphic example of why a national animal welfare law is so desperately needed in Spain."

API report continued... The federal animal protection law in Spain, passed in 2003, specifies that any person who causes death or serious harm to an animal will receive a prison sentence of three months to one year. Unfortunately, Spain's devolved government makes enforcement across diverse and autonomous regions difficult, especially when local level politicians are sometimes the people who hunt with galgos. Actual prosecution is rare.

Some Progress Being Made

There is some encouraging news. Pressure from fellow EU countries is mounting on Spain to make real changes. Hundreds of European citizens have petitioned the European Parliament, asking it to intervene and halt this widespread cruelty against galgos and racing greyhounds. In 2006, protesters delivered a petition signed by 50,000 people to the Minister of the Environment in Madrid, demanding that hunting with galgos be outlawed. In November 2007, Spain took a step forward in animal welfare protection by closing down a dog "shelter" in Puerto Real after allegations of widespread animal abuse. Fines and jail time are also being better enforced, largely due to pressure from individual activists and animal welfare organizations.

What You Can Do

Several animal protection groups in Spain and elsewhere in Europe are fighting against these cruel practices. We invite you to learn more about these organizations and how you can help them protect Spanish galgos:

Galgo Rescue International Network
Scooby Medina—Spain
Greyhounds in Need—UK
Greyhounds in Nood—Belgium
Le Bulletin Des Lévriers—France

Source: HSI Quote and backup info:WSPA .

A Galgo Story

A Galgo Story

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Please send comments and submittals to the Editor: Linda Beane [email protected]

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