A couple of days ago I asked the question - what is the law in Spain on exercising galgos, if they are companion dogs. Andrew Hurrell, a founder of Noahs Arc in Mazarron, has personal experience of the problem; he shares it here with you.
'Fury from Camposol ex pats regarding hunting fine of 300 Euros
My partner and I worked tirelessly with a dog rescue for three years in the Murcia area, and fostered and rescued numerous Greyhound types (called Galgos in Spain) which were cast off by hunters at the end of each season; you can imagine that hunters are not the most well thought of individuals amongst the dog rescue fraternity in Murcia.
This concern applies to both Spanish and English rescues where the Galgo breed is treated as a work tool by the hunters. The majority have very poor regard for the welfare of their animals, and the rescues we carried out were invariably caught in a poor state of nourishment, lived outside and were clearly neglected. The dogs would often be fearful of men and be carrying many scars where they would have been forced to run through bracken and rough ground after rabbits in order to catch their prey.
With my initiative to set up an association with the registered charity Noah’s Arc in Mazarron and the Greyhound in Need organization in Europe in 2007, we were at last able to rehome abused and injured Galgos into new homes (primarily in Belgium) where they adore this particular breed.
These dogs are an incredibly loving and gentle breed and, because of their docile, non confrontational nature, are naturally submissive. They are wonderful with children and make a perfect family pet. Surprisingly Galgos only need moderate exercise as they must rate as the laziest dog on the planet often sleeping for 20 hours per day, They are also poor guard dogs as they rarely bark!
After leaving the dog rescue Noah’s Arc in Dec 09 due to the failing health of my partner, I was able to spend more time walking my two adopted rescue Galgos “Amber” and “Harvey”. They are now 7 and 8 years old respectively. However some locals had experienced problems with farmers brandishing shotguns while walking their dogs off lead in the campo near my home on Camposol Sector A; For this reason I have always kept my two dogs on leads.
I have always walked on the roadway separating the two sides of the Campo. The roadway is clearly marked on the map and is a public right of way. I had done a virtually identical walk most days with no problems whatsoever since 2006, when we first adopted our two rescue Galgos, often passing farmers in tractors on the walk, where we would exchange a friendly wave.
Guilty in Spain until you can prove your innocence?
Imagine my surprise when walking again with my two Galgos (both on leads) on the main track opposite my home on sector A in February 2010, when a Guardia Civil vehicle stopped behind me. I turned around and one of the officers then asked me for my papers.
I was unable to show them at that moment, as I was not expecting to be stopped; however I pointed to my house around 200 meters opposite and explained that I would be there in about 10 minutes, where I would be able to show my Identity etc.
I asked what the problem was. They explained that this was private land and I was not allowed to walk my dogs in this area either on or off the lead. They then went on the say that the farmer who owns the land had made a denouncier (denuncia) for all dog walkers on his land, and they had to investigate. I asked if it was permitted to walk them on the road on which I was walking (and always walked my dogs) as it was clearly a right of way and marked on the map, and to this they said “no it was all private land”.
They confirmed that they would come to the house in 20 minutes and during this time I have since discovered that they spoke to several other dog walkers, all of whom were told a similar story. Interestingly however, it is my understanding that it was only my two dogs that were being walked that evening on leads, while many others were found off lead. None of the other dog walkers were asked for identification.
When they arrived at my house I was waiting for them with my partner together with my identification, and all the detailed information regarding the dogs' microchip numbers and pet passports and records of rabies jabs etc. They never actually asked for information regarding the dogs but we showed it to them anyhow.
I then telephoned my translator to ensure that there was no possibility of a misunderstanding between the Guardia and us in respect of exactly what the problem actually was. The translator was able to confirm what they were telling me, which was that the black and white signs separated by a diagonal line does mean private land.
This time, using the translator, I explained that because I was on the road between the areas of the campo this surely was not private land, as it was clearly marked on the map? The Guardia continued to confirm that it was their understanding that all the land was private and therefore I was guilty of “trespassing”. The translator did say that I may receive a fine for “trespass”.
During the entire process not once was the word “hunting” or “licence” mentioned. They never asked to look in the house or search our premises for evidence of hunting. They never asked me if I had a hunting licence, or to produce a hunting licence. The whole process took about 10 minutes outside my house and was done in a convivial and lighthearted manner. There was no anger or frustration from anyone.
Having walked the same piece of track for the past 4 years with no problem, it was a shock to me to find that a few weeks later a fine of 300 Euros was levied against me, with the fine reading that I was “hunting without a licence”.
Needless to say with the help of Luis Canovas, email@example.com, I decided to fight this ridiculous allegation. Not only was it absurd and immoral, but also broke all the usual rules of needing evidence to suggest a crime wass being committed.
Had I been brandishing a shotgun, or had dead rabbits and fur concealed about my person, or even carrying some kind of wire or trap, then there would have been some suggestion of me hunting. But to simply send a summons with absolutely no warning of their intention during the first encounter was nothing short of a farce.
Clearly when they returned to the station to carry out the paperwork regarding the allegation of trespass, they realized that I was correct, and the road was a public right of way. They then decided to make up a charge of hunting thinking that this would be an easy way of earning revenue for Spanish government.
Had I have been confrontational aggressive or awkward in some way I could understand it, but everything was done in good humour and we had an excellent rapport with the two officers.
It is now my belief that because the two dogs were wearing the galgo (greyhound) outfit this was all that was required to bring about a charge of hunting. I guess it’s a little like charging every Muslim wearing a turban with terrorism. Unbelievable!!!!!!!!
The first appeal against the fine was been returned to me and they continued with their 300 Euro request. Luis confirmed that this is the kind of thing that is common in Spain, as the fine is too low to engage proper legal assistance, since the cost of this would overshadow the cost of just paying the fine. I decided I was prepared to go as far as it took to get this absurd action dropped. I would defend it myself if necessary. And would have my day in court!
In the end, due to the absurd Spanish legal system (and the ill health of my partner), I had no choice but to pay the fine since they would take it from my account anyhow if I failed to pay, and there is no small claim procedure in Spain.
After my final appeal direct to the Murcia council offices, where the officers involved subsequently changed their original story after an alleged review of the case, to state the dogs were "OFF LEAD". the repercussions should a costly court process succeed would have been too costly emotionally and practically with reprisals from the Guardia very likely!'
Charl del Rio has the following comment.
The law states that ALL dogs need to be walked on the lead. When its hunting times you "so say" have to have a licence for being on hunting land. coto de caza. Then when it's not hunting season, you can be caught for having a dog off the lead and hunting when it,s the time for rabbits hares to reproduce. I've had my galgos Ambo and Clara off the lead and had police drive by and say nothing.
The other thing to remember is that in some provinces the law may be different, as each region is autonomous and can create its own laws which do not necessarily apply in another region.
Andrew's recommendation to the lady who raised the question is this.
'It sounds to me as though the hunter is correct, if this is designated hunting land, and you could be liable for a 300 euro fine if you are caught. If there are any back and white signs in the area, then you should definitely avoid these areas even if the dogs are ON LEADS.'
Thank you to both Andrew and Charl for explaining the Spanish law on dog-walking. And let's face it, the majority of galgueros don't care what happens to their dogs when they abandon them, dump them in perreras and shelters. So to see someone exercising galgos could be like 'red rag to a bull'.