In the past few weeks I found myself contemplating matter of Sota, a dog recently shot by an officer in Barcelona #justiciaparasota. I felt moved by an avalanche of memories from our trip through Spain and our stay in the Canary Islands. During that time, some things … connected with our passion and love for dogs, the work of rescue shelters in Spain, and atrocities we started reading about began to upset us greatly. Today, after reading… and checking … about the treatment of Galgos and Podencos dogs in Spain, I see that this country has large and complex problem. What is happening with these dogs is so brutal and cruel that we must take initiative now and unite our voices and stand as one. It is nearly unimaginable that it is the 21st century and these offenses our occurring in a European country, an EU member. It is an intentional holocaust of man’s best friend to an epic scale and horrific proportions (at least 50 000 to 100 000 dogs suffer each year)
What are the Galgos and what is happening?
The Galgos breed (and Podenco breed) dogs have long traditionally been used for racing and hunting in Spain. We have no issues with the hunts or races themselves but the diabolical and barberous mistreatment of these animals themselves.
A Galgo Español is a Spanish Greyhound, an ancient race. Once, they were viewed as a valuable possession and breaded by noble families. Now, they are one of the most persecuted dog breeds in the world. These beautiful animals have become disposable tools, in the hands of Spanish galgueros (hunters). You can purchase Galgos dog for a mere 10 euros or $15 bucks! Due to the cheap supply of these animals, when they do not ‚work good’ or are no longer needed, they are murdered or brutally tortured and abused. It is estimated that every year, around 50,000 to even 100,000 are murdered, tortured, abused and/or abandoned. Do not adjust the monitor settings, you see a good number of zeros. A minimum 50,000 annually! This can not be estimated accurately because the farms (that produce dogs) are not controlled or regulated in any way, and there are for example, mass graves in the middle of nowhere which have been in existence for 20 years only now being discovered. One thing is certain, using the name „Holocaust greyhounds” is the most adequate.
Why are so many dogs being abandoned and abused?
Greyhounds used for hunting are usually used only for one season. Afterwards, they often are rejected and replaced with new ones. During the hunting season, lasting 4 months from November to February, galgueros have at least 10 galgos, and some of them even have up to 70! Because the dogs are so cheap to buy, their lives have virtually no value. At the end of February, when hunting season ends, hunters get rid of those they no longer need.
If dogs hunt poorly, they are tortured as punishment for the ‚shame’ they have brought their owners. The traditional explanation for their cruelty is that if a dog shames their master without meeting his expectations, defamation must be washed away by torture and the killing of the Galgo. In reality this practice is simply an exercise in sadism, and from an economic point of view, a reduction in costs. They often dispose of these animals in the most frightening ways imaginable. At times, strong acids are used purposefully poured over these living creatures to put them to a slow death. In other cases, they are simply dragged behind the car until they perish. Additionally and quite often, they are buried alive or thrown into deep wells or down canyons, leather stripped alive. It is only the lucky ones that may be simply shot and killed on the spot without experiencing the inhumane torture. But it is not all, there is one more traditional torture.
The most well known torture and killing method is called the „piano dance”. This consists of tethering the dog by the neck and fastening it so only the tips of the feet touch the earth. As the poor animal fights for each and every last breath, the animal slowly suffocates to death over hours and sometime over the course of 3 days. Why the name ‚piano dance’, because the dog during strangling makes characteristic noises.
The ‚Good’ hunting dogs are saved from torture and death if they are still young and strong…, because they may be used for more than one hunting season. They are kept in „zulos” – dirty, tight, unregulated kennels. Often in concrete bunkers, devoid of daylight, exercise, medical treatment and of course any sight of feelings. Often fed mainly with only bread, they eat each other when one falls from exhaustion. Before they are used for hunting, they are starved for days and embittered to make them better at hunting. There is a belief that a hungry greyhound gives more of himself in the chase and therefore makes a better hunter.
Even these dogs, the ‚good’ hunters, often perish by the age of three. After years of being weakened by malnutritment and lack of care, it is easier and cheaper to kill the dog rather than to pay to maintain them for the next season. Remember, you can purchase a new galgo for only 10 euros in a cattery, which supplies hunters with dogs. How it is possible that this cannibilistic cycle continues and the prices remain so low? Easy… there is a demand, there is a business, there is price competition. The farms set the prices and the vicious circle goes on.
Death through torture is not the only method to get rid off dogs. Those who do not “embarrass” their owner are „rewarded” by sending them to „perreras”. These are facilities like public dog shelters. However, when dogs are not adopted within 10 days can be euthanized (some provinces or cities in Spain have introduced a policy of not killing dogs in shelters, in others it is still the norm). Some Galgueros decide to simply abandon them as well. They transport them somewhere far away and leave them, often breaking their legs or tying them with chains so that they can not come back. If they have identity tattoos or microchips, their skin is cut to remove any traces of the owner. They usually die of hunger, car accidents, or end up in city shelters where after a few days they are put to sleep. Some galgueros who have „more heart” give them to private shelters, where dogs may have a chance for another life. Those shelters still are often overcrowded.
There is also a group of ‚lucky’ dogs that are being recovered by volunteers through a type of intervention. This is not an easy task because dogs are often terrified, distrustful, and can not be caught easily. Additionally, volunteers are often met with hostility and contempt on the part of hunters for showing concern for race and dog deemed worthless. There are several shelters devoted exclusively to the rescue of galgos and podengos, another race used for the entertainment. Organizations and foundations help in veterinary care, adoption and fundraising. Almost all funds for helping these dogs currently come from outside Spain, namely from the USA, Great Britain, Belgium, Denmark, France, the Netherlands and Germany.
The most shocking thing about this situation is that the authorities in Spain are well aware of what is happening and it seems, however, that they do not want to put a stop to it. On the contrary, laws and regulations are being introduced in such a way that the Spanish Greyhound owners can avoid any and all punishment for their sadism. According to Spanish law, Galgos and Podencos are considered „business” or „working” dogs and as so are exempt from the provisions regarding cruelty to pets. They are simply tools to use and be thrown away when the owner does not consider them useful for work.
It would appear that little can be done in the hunting tradition rooted in hundreds of years of Spanish customs. Another fact making this epidemic difficult to correct is that many hunters are people from the „upper classes”, members of the political and financial elite, or at least from influences and acquaintances in these elites and state authorities. May I remind you that 5 years ago the previous king of Spain himself went to Africa and organizes elephant hunting. Leading by great example, right?
Additionally, attaching Galgos to cars, motorcycles, horses, etc. in order to check their speed is common practice, and is only viewed as an administrative offense. This is not criminal unless it results in death or serious injury. Though both occur frequently, these incidents are rarely reported nor enforced.
There is the National Federation of Galgos, which penetrates all areas of society and has political influence. They present the tradition of hunting greyhounds as a thousand-year cultural treasure practiced from generation to generation. Not one of the breeding farms have yet to be prosecuted, and many of Spanish associations that oppose this cruelty do not have a political voice.
And what about Spanish people?
Many of the people living in Spain think its cruel and they are against such treatment. Many people save these dogs and adopt them. The problem is that it is not always easy and pleasant. Those who harm them, do not spare bad words to those who save these „useless” dogs, especially in the south of the country and in smaller towns. Dogs also have many problems psychologically after the abuse.
Fortunately, Galgos are becoming more and more popular and more and more can be seen on the streets of large cities, especially northern Spain and big cities. Having them becomes not only normal, but fashionable as well. “In Barcelona you don’t buy galgos, you adopt them” says Klea Levin, designer and founder of Barcelonadogs.com.
There are the organizations such as SOSGalgos, GRIN, and Galgos del Sol. They work on different projects and documentary films such as Yo Galgo, https://yogalgoproductions.com/ to help raise awareness. Each foundation runs its own website, tell stories of specific dogs, record videos of individual rescue actions, establish help centers for these dogs, help in adoption, and send dogs abroad. They run classes where they educate young people and run educational projects among local people. They make informational banners on the streets and write articles for national and foreign newspapers. They set up accounts on various social media and try to publicize the problem. The question remains, is it helping? Does it help? Do we hear them?
Private people and several organizations are fighting for the „rights” of these animals and something is slowly changing … However, progress appears too slow, and the lack of appropriate law and the ignorance of institutions are the law of the act.
Abigail Christman, the founder of the international Galgo Rescue network (GRIN), says „the next generation is the key.” In addition to educating the general public about the fate of Galgos and Podengos, young people should be taught the humane treatment of animals and stop poor breeding practices.
There are dozens of private organizations fighting against this cruel tradition in Spain, but their efforts are mainly focused on saving abandoned Galgos and appealing to the authorities to punish the perpetrators. Unfortunately, most of them are aware that these are not effective long-term solutions and that the only way to really change this situation is to change the perception of dogs by people and the value of their lives. Raising awareness and education is the only solution to this situation!
Nothing specific can be noted regarding the actions of the E.U.. Individuals try but it does not bring any visible effects.
On March 8, 2017, Anja Hazekamp, a Dutch deputy vice-president of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Pet Care, organized the „Broken spirit – The “galgo’s last run” event. This event focused on raising public awareness about the situation and fate of greyhounds in Spain. She is trying to draw the attention of the European Parliament to the mistreatment of these dogs and to raise awareness about the issue of galgos among the memebers of EP in order to be able to „cooperate and end it”.
Karen Soeters, founder of Animals Today, went to Spain and made a document that she presented at this meeting https://vimeo.com/197089467 . More videos you will find at the bottom of the article in “sources”).
Stefan Eck, a German deputy, adds that people must be informed about this brutal reality, both Members of the European Parliament and civil society. The fact that Galgueros are already afraid of petitions and what Karen Soeters document shows, shows us that we are on the right track. Here you can find link to the petition https://www.spcai.org/other-ways-help/sign-our-petitions/sign-our-petition/
UPDATE – MUCH MORE IMPORTANT PETITION is the one submitted to the European Parliament, which you can find HERE If the link doesn’t work, find petition by entering its number 0516/2016. Why is it so important? Because it is not a petition existing for itself. This one in case of recognition, will actually force spanish government to refer to the issue and to take care of it effectively. It will force Spain to apply requiremnts of regualtions concerning wellbeing of animals. This wellbing is in EU acquis is common value. That’s why let’s support the one made by French citizens. Unfortunately authors do little to promote it (when we found it, it was signed by 17 people). Beause of that send this petition to all your friends, it can be signed by every person. On the top left side you can choose one from more than 20 languages. You have to register to sign petition.
What can we do about it?
As we have already mentioned, many members of the institutions representing the authorities have broadly misunderstood the „business” in this and are convinced that this is a matter that very few people from outside of Spain know about. Therefore, it’s time to make them realize that thousands of people can easily learn about it and that this knowledge can hurt Spain, which derives huge profits from tourism.
First and foremost, we need to raise public awareness on the issue. Please talk about it loudly and condemn any manifestations of aggression towards dogs. Let your own voice be heard. Share this post, inform your friends and your neighbors. We need to unite and spread this story of gross mistreatment of animals. What is more:
1. WE RECOMMEND BOYCOTT TOURIST TRIPS TO SPAIN.
What does it give? In today’s politics and the world, only the economic element counts. We will send stats of access to this post to Spanish organizations fighting to improve the fate of these dogs. They will send this further to the Spanish government to make him aware of the existence of an openly persuasive action to discredit.
2. You can sign the most important petition, submitted to the European Parliament , which you can find HERE. Why is it so important? Because it is not a petition existing for itself. This one in case of recognition, will actually force spanish government to refer to the issue and to take care of it effectively. It will force Spain to apply requiremnts of regualtions concerning wellbeing of animals. This wellbing is in EU acquis is common value. In accordance with European Parliament rules you can not submit when another petition on the same subject is still open. That’s why let’s support the one made by German citizens. Unfortunately authors do little to promote it (when we found it, it was signed by 9 people). Beause of that send this petition to all your friends, it can be signed by every EU citizen. On the top left side you can choose one from more than 20 languages, if you don’t know English. You have to register to sign petition.
2b. You can sign also other https://www.spcai.org/other-ways-help/sign-our-petitions/sign-our-petition/
3. Below we place a model of a protest letter that you can send to the Spanish embassy (send normal or on e-mail box or as o comment on embassy social media).
4. You can use prepared information posters, which we place also below or you can download HERE (under polish version), print and hang or send it to veterinary clinics, pet shops, generally anywhere. You can also throw them as a photo in the background on your facebook profile, or simply share in any social media.
5. Use the #freethegalgo tag in your posts and descriptions photos on all social media, especially on 1St february which was established as a „Galgo’s day”
6. You can use the overlay on the profile picture on facebook. This is a very simple way to signal and interest other people in the existence of the procedure and to be able to search for further information later. The overlay is approved by facebook. TO SET IT – move the cursor to your profile picture – select „update” which will appear on it – after clicking, the „add overlay” tab will appear – enter the freethegalago search engine and set one of available – ready.
7. Share this article on the websites of tourist agencies organizing trips to Spain and take other actions of this type, that will come to your mind.
Plan your own initiatives. If you have any specific ideas on how to rally support and make an effective change regarding this issue, please let us and other people know – write a comment. Together we can make the change! United we can end this atrocity from continuing and ever happening again. Join us and let your voice be heard!
To exchange ideas and implement them, contact with organization working in your country (list of some we place below in sources).
Many Spanish residents, foundations and international organizations seemingly can not do anything about the situation currently despite the efforts being made. The one thing we can do is talk about it loudly and discredit their government for not doing anything about stopping this bestial treatment of dogs. Together, we can unite as one voice. Together I believe we can make a difference and make a great change in the lives of these magnificant animals.
I would like to express my disagreement and disgust at a procedure that takes place in Spain. Every year in your country there is mass killing, torturing, mutilation, abandonment and intentional neglect of dogs used by some of your countrymen for hunting and in races (often illegal). It is estimated that between 50,000 and 100,000 dogs suffer annually, mainly Galgo and Podenco dogs.
The Spanish government and the general public have knowledge and awareness about the events taking place, while there is still social acceptance and, what is worse, the inaction of the government and state to combat and prevent this phenomenon. Permission to hang dogs on trees to choke for a few hours or even days, burying them alive in the ground, throwing them into canyons and wells, dragging behind the car, smoothing to death, breaking limbs, acid drenching and many other sadistic activities.
I would like to inform you that I will undertake all kinds of activities in which I will inform other people about the backwardness of Spain against standards of civilized world, not only regarding animal rights, but also „humanitarianism” and ethical and moral values.
I also declare that as part of a personal protest, I will refrain from any tourist trips to your country, I will persuade other people to do the same. The Spanish tourism industry „draws heavily” from the image of his country as „full of life, joyful, fun and people with warm hearts.” In the face of the events that take place there, the fact that sometimes only a few dozen kilometers from tourist centers and the capital of the country are found mass graves of animals, it is impossible to sustain this myth. Also providing financial resources to people who, on the one hand, smile at us – tourists and thanks to us earn money, and on weekends organize tortures on animals on a mass scale or people who „turn a blind eye” on events they know about. This knowledge must be universal, since a few tens of thousands of dogs are killed, tortured and maimed year after year. It is not possible that everything is happening in hiding. It would be impossible for the closest family members of these sadists to know about the practices of their fathers, husbands, brothers, grandparents, and children.
I will also take other steps boycotting Spanish interests, such as boycotting Spanish clothing brands, food, vegetables and fruits, etc. I will also support other initiatives taken by other people, who already have knowledge of this practice – among them, among others hanging posters informing in such places as: veterinary clinics, zoological stores, etc.
I will continue in these activities as long as I do not learn about the start of effective actions by Spanish state institutions aimed at curbing the sadistic practices of part of the Spanish society (not only hunters and race organizers, but also the breeders who supply and breed dogs in scandalous conditions).
It is a great pity that my actions will also affect the majority of Spanish society, which is not involved in the procedure. Also good and noble people, including those who try to rescue those dogs, but are ignored by their own government and state institutions, that you represent.
I am convinced that only ostracism and a blow to Spain’s financial interests can persuade the Spanish government to act if it has remained passive in the face of decades. May you all be aware that this is no longer just a „Spanish” matter.
SOURCES and IMPORTANT LINKS:
Petition to European Parliament:
and other petition:
Organizations helping galgos in Spain:
Barcelona – SOSGalgos
Murcia – Galgos del Sol
USA – GRIN (Galgo Rescue International Network)
Netherlands – Dutch Galgo Lobby
Great Britain – Greyhounds In Need
France – Galgos France
Germany – Galgo-hilfe
Belgium – https://www.greyhoundsinnood.be/
Febrero, el miedo de los galgos – https://vimeo.com/74956745
2015/04/21 DODO „Tens Of Thousands Of Dogs Are Being Tortured For A Gruesome ‚Tradition’”
2015/08/21 National Geographic „Restoring Dignity to Spain’s Mistreated Hunting Dogs”
2016/10/26 National Geographic „Traditional Hunting Dogs Are Left to Die En Masse in Spain”
2017/02/01 Animals Today „Petition: ban the hunting with galgos in Spain”
2017/02/10 Odditycentral „The Cruel Spanish Tradition That Kills Tens of Thousands of Greyhounds Every Year”
2017/03/19 Animal Welfare Inter Group.eu „Ending the brutal fate of the Spanish galgo”
2018/10/29 The Guardian „Galgos: how rescue greyhounds became fashionable in Barcelona”