(My galgas Sahara & Carmela sharing a bed today!) Yes, it’s 5 years today since my webmaster Craig and I launched Galgo News. We’ve travelled a long way in those 5 years – published many different stories – happy stories, sad stories, rehomings, appeals, letter-writing campaigns – whatever has been sent to me, I’ve read and published most of it. I’ve only had to remove one post, where people commenting then launched a personal attack on two volunteers in Spain. I won’t countenance libel, so the post was removed. I still have it on file, as the subject matter is important, and one day it may raise its ugly head again.
I’m grateful to all of you lovely readers who have bought copies of my book to learn more about the plight of the galgo; you’ve responded well to appeals for donations towards vet care for sick and injured galgos, and many of you have offered forever homes to hundreds of the galgos featured on Galgo News and associations I publicise. You are marvellous and I feel sure that the volunteers and associations feel the same.
I do a lot of work ‘behind the scenes’ too; responding to appeals for help – fostering, putting people in touch to organise rescues, adoptions, collecting information….it’s not just a matter of sitting at the computer for a couple of hours posting a story and a picture. Plus I organise fundraising and collecting and co-ordinating donated goods and transport.
I travelled to Strasbourg, took part in the first march for the galgos starting and finished outside the European Parliament, catching up with a lot of friends at the same time. I spent 10 days travelling through the length of Spain visiting shelters to deliver food, beds, bedding, galgo coats...making new friends along the way.
My book continues to sell well around the world; now it is also published in French and Spanish - very grateful thanks to the two professional translators who offered their services free of charge.
However, not all is good news for the galgos. The situation in Spain for abandoned dogs is dire. They are murdered in their hundreds each week in the perreras, sad but sometimes even this can be better than some of the alternatives.
During the last 5 years galgo rescue associations have multiplied. Whilst this can be good news in spreading the rescue work, it is not such good news for the number and volume of dogs brought out of Spain to UK, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy… these countries also have their own very serious problem of abandoned dogs. Their shelters are full too, these dogs desperately need homes as well – why should they be displaced because of the total selfishness of the Spanish hunters?
I fear France is reaching saturation point for galgo adoption. True, once you have one, you tend to adopt another, they are addictive. However, I’ve lost count of how many French galgo rescue associations there are now, must be about 40! Imagine, each of these associations makes a trip into Spain every 2 or 3 months and brings out between 12-20 galgos and a few podencos. I believe it has now got to the stage where homechecks and backup are failing the galgos…a case of ‘find a home for a galgo’ – too frequently a situation arises where the adoptants don’t understand the galgo and t’s needs – chiefly an enclosed yard with at least 2m high wall/fence, and don’t walk it off lead – and the galgo escapes and goes on the run.
This situation happened a couple of years ago here – it had taken 12 months to catch the galga in Spain, it took 2 hours for her to escape from her French foster home. It took 7 months to catch her again. To be fair, it was the fault of the French association president. The fosterers were new to the job, they were expecting a 4 month old galgo puppy, not an adult seriously traumatised galgo. And this is just one instance!
Another case this year (same French association) – a foster galga, severely traumatised, placed with a foster couple who already had 2 galgos. The man was dark, swarthy with a gruff voice – he clearly reminded her of a cruel hunter in her previous life, no matter that he tried hard to make friends. I reported this situation to the president of the rescue association – who visited during the day when the partner was at work.
Months went by without this poor galga being placed in a different foster home – the wife wanted to adopt the galga! It took 8 months, me getting angry, before the poor galga was removed – heartbreaking for the dog – 8 wasted months when she could have been in a home being rehabilitated. We’d have taken her like a shot, but the fosterers were French friends of ours and, no matter what I said to them, they wouldn’t accept that the dog was not happy!
On one occasion when we looked after the dog whilst they went on holiday with their other dogs, the galga began to come out of her fear. As soon as the couple arrived, they couldn’t catch her; when they finally did, they put a rope round her neck and dragged her to the door. Even when I said – leave her here, she doesn’t want to go – the wife picked up the galga and carried her out to the car…needless to say, they no longer speak to us – nor does the president of the association – whom I have supported with fundraising, going on rescues to Spain, accommodating all the dogs and the team of volunteers overnight at our home in France! But hey, I got the galga rehomed. I don’t care who falls out with me; for me, it’s about the dog.
And there is worse. Transportation of ‘rescued’ dogs out of Spain. Many of them are taken overland to Italy, where the animal shelters there are horrendous! I hasten to add that the Italian galgo rescue associations work with Spanish associations to ensure the galgos are cared for. But if you click on the links below, you can read a Google translation of distressing articles about dog transport across Europe.
Spain is going backwards – Andalucia legalising ‘training’ galgos from a motorised vehicle; Catalunya ‘legalising’ bull fighting again; the impoverished Spanish government giving 300,000 euros to the hunting federation to go into schools and offer children a day’s hunting!
The volunteers in Spain need all our support; they work under an horrendous workload – 150-200 dogs in a shelter – feeding, cleaning, walking, washing bedding – every day. They frequently suffer abuse from the galgueros and gitanos because of the work they do – families threatened, cars or homes damaged – their own dogs stolen…the majority of Spanish galgueros and gitanos are unscrupulous. And there are gitano encampments where even Seprona won’t venture…says it all.
Spain is more than just a Third World country – it’s going back to the dark ages…and the animals are the ones who suffer.
And in the last couple of months we have learnt about the horrendous struggle against enormous odds for the poor galgos in Portugal. Drunks and drug addicts - volunteers have to tread very carefully to rescue the galgos from them. They are very grateful for your donations to pay for food and vet fees for these galgos and their puppies. Here's the certificate for little Risa, one of the rescued puppies, named after my daughter, and now adopted.
Please keep reading Galgo News, spread the word of what happens to them in Spain, and support the volunteers in their efforts to save at least a small percentage of the 50,000 galgos abandoned every year.
And for goodness sake, don’t go there on holiday unless you are going to stay with an association and help them looking after the dogs in their care!
Link to the articles about transporting dogs from Spain to Italy.