Danielle and April have continued to keep contact with the National Geographic Society and they need your help again. Below is the letter they have composed to keep up the pressure for more coverage in the magazine about the plight of the galgos. You can either copy, paste to your computer and print off and post, or send by email, addresses below. If you post, can you also enclose a sheet of photos of badly injured galgos, to illustrate the horror they suffer.
National Geographic Society
1145 17th Street N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20036-4688
Object: The plight of the Spanish Galgo
National Geographic is a magazine read world wide - and as such, it has the power to bring attention to situations and problems around the world. It can also be an influence on people and make a difference for the better. There is a story in Spain that has never received the full international attention it deserves and should if there is to be any hope of ever resolving it.
The situation with the Galgo Espanol (Spanish hunting and racing hound) is absolutely horrific. Every year at the end of the hunting season - come February, upwards of 50,000 of these beautiful, loyal and devoted creatures are neglected, abused, tortured, abandoned and killed in horrific ways. An especially cruel and sadistic way of killing them is the so-called "pianist method", whereby a dog is hung from a tree branch with metal wire or rope around its neck, its back legs just brushing the ground, but barely. It can take DAYS for the animal to die in horrendous suffering.
Many Spanish people consider these dogs to be vermin… quite a step down from the companion of royalty and aristocracy which the Galgo used to be.
Galgueros (Spanish hunters) also kill their dogs by beating them to death, or throwing them down wells to slowly die of hunger and thirst. Some are burned alive, others have a sturdy stick wedged into their mouths to keep them open and are then abandoned this way (if the dog can't break the stick, it slowly starves to death). Many have their legs broken & are left in out-of-the way places to starve to death or to fend for themselves by motorways and busy roads where they are almost always hit by passing cars (very few Spanish motorists stop after hitting a dog). The dogs slowly die in ditches, unable to move, bones broken, suffering from internal injuries, exposed to the blistering sun or the freezing cold.
Galgos of every age are taken in by the thousands to municipal pounds – known as killing stations – to be euthanized in the cheapest way possible – it can take 20 minutes for a dog to die an agonizing death there. Many aren’t even fed while there, awaiting their killing date. Why waste food on a dog that’s only going to be put to death?
These are not random acts of cruelty. It's cruelty on a massive scale, with upwards of 50,000 Galgos brutally tortured and killed every year.
Hunting and racing Galgos never know the warmth of a home, the kindness of a soothing touch, the joy of playing, the good feeling of having a full belly and the love of a master. Their life is nothing but misery, hunger, pain and terror. Many of those dogs (those lucky enough to be rescued) are so traumatized that it can take literally years for them to trust a human again and to start behaving like normal canines, leaving the past behind. Some never overcome their past.
The breeding of Galgos is uncontrolled and unrestricted, compounding the problem. In Spain, it is deemed "unnatural" to sterilize a dog. That, along with Galgueros overbreeding in the hopes of getting that one “special” pup that will out run or out hunt all the rest, adds to the misery these dogs must endure. Bitches who give birth often have their babies taken away from them and drowned or disposed of in other cruel ways – without even a second thought to the trauma not only they endure – but their dams as well. Often the Galguero will keep the babies and throw the mother to the street, leaving her in a world of pain from mastitis, and in emotional distress from being separated from her young.
Most of those dogs never see a vet and are allowed to suffer with open wounds and broken bones. The "Mediterranean diseases", namely Leishmaniosis, Erlichiosis and Filariosis are common amongst these hounds, diseases which are painful and often fatal when not treated on time. Severe cases of mange are also all too common. Galgos have almost no fat on their bodies and, as a result, suffer greatly from the cold and the heat. Their skin is extremely thin and very fragile. It rips easily, causing sores over their bodies as a result of being made to sleep directly on concrete and other hard surfaces. If well-treated, a Galgo can easily live to 12-14 years of age, but in Spain, the average age of a Galgo is 2 years… Their life is truly a misery.
If National Geographic were to publish an article on the plight of the Galgo, it would bring the much needed worldwide attention to this massive injustice that is so desperately needed. A film documentary on the National Geographic channel would also open the eyes of the world & put pressure on the Spanish Government to step up to the plate and address this intolerable situation. Only when this is brought to light, will things change for these gentle creatures that give their all to the hands that so cruelly abuse them.
The story of the Galgo and its fall from grace makes for very interesting reading, and would shed some light on the relationship between people and animals in Spain. In Europe, the Spanish truly stand apart in their ill treatment of all animals, not just Galgos, although the Galgos are by far suffering the brunt of it. Every year, some 175,000 dogs (Galgos and other breeds) are killed in dog pounds all over Spain. This is a European country, a member of the EU that consistently disregards animal welfare and protection laws.
Recently, during the last week of January 2013, 7 Galgos suffocated to death in a hunting trailer while at a hunting match in Medina del Campo, Spain. The hunters responsible for such cruel & needless deaths showed a blatant disregard for rules and regulations, not to mention their dogs' lives. It is not known how many Galgos die in this horrible way every year, because their lives are not worth anything to their masters. In Spain there is a saying : "A Galgo is not worth the bullet to kill it"…
I attach a few of the thousands of pictures of Galgos showing the barbaric treatment they receive at the hands of their "masters". The images are graphic and hard to look at, but they need to be seen in order to truly understand the scope of this horror. The last page lists URLs for individuals and associations, in the US and in Europe, who fight for the Galgos, every day, with meager resources and exhausted volunteers. None listed receive a penny from any level of government. They rely solely on donations and, often times, their own money. They get harassed by hunters and sometimes threatened and their personal property destroyed. There is also a human interest story in here…
We hope National Geographic finds this subject interesting and thought-provoking enough to make room for it in its pages and bring the plight of the Galgo to light so that perhaps we can put an end to it and allow these loyal dogs to finally live decent lives, free from pain and terror.