(Article written for Andalucian Galgo Magazine, by Anne Finch)
As a UK charity, Greyhounds in Need, we first became aware of the unfortunate lives of galgos in 1996, following on our concern since 1991 for the Irish greyhounds exported then to the dog tracks at Barcelona, Valencia and Mallorca. Sadly the situation of the galgos had not been addressed by welfare associations until that time, much of their lives as hunting dogs and then their fates in the woods havingbeen well hidden in the countryside of internal Spain. A few worthy souls, like Bartolome Ramirez Castro did care as best they could for large numbers of them, but there was no future for those rescues until recent years. Drawing the public eye, with the use of the media and the internet, to the plight of these lovely creatures, and having already opened up pathways, particularly in Germany, Belgium, Switzerland and the UK to the greyhounds, meant that an increasing number of galgos have found salvation and welcoming open arms abroad with families, often with multiple sighthounds! > The network has increased nowadays involving France, Holland, Austria, the USA and to a lesser extent Scandinavia.
We all feel much love and pity for these animals, but we know we are only applying first aid to a situation, the root of which should be seriously addressed by Spain herself. Many Spanish volunteers and welfare groups now play an important part in the primary rescue of these dogs, but they suffer frustration and despair at the lack of authoritative back up, and penal justice following their denunciations and efforts against deliberate cruelty to galgos.
As the hosting, the knowledge and the love of these galgos spread throughout the world, so also do the negative aspects of galgo existence in Spain. In these days of electronic mail where in a few seconds, a mass grave or a galgo hanging from a tree can reach the living rooms of millions of indignant dog lovers throughout the world, there must come a time when Spain can no longer plead ignorance nor make excuses for not being able to control the production of thousands of unwanted galgos nor the cruel practices used to cull them.
There is now enormous back up from abroad but only pressure on the authorities from Spanish people themselves can exert zero tolerance of such acts of wantonness and cruelty.
Meanwhile, we with our greyhound rescue programmes, do our best, but the opportunities, after exporting thousands and thousands of galgos to homes abroad over the last 6 years, are diminishing as northern Europe is becoming saturated with Spanish greyhounds and galgos! So far I have mentioned nothing of the massive amount of donated funding which has to be raised daily in all our countries with publicity, the media and public relations work in order to carry out the costly rescue and rehabilitation of these animals.
We are already moving on to the second generation of rescues abroad as the old dogs die and are replaced generously by new Spanish rescues, but is this the only way to go forward?