"A culture of violence, secrecy, and lack of oversight. How abandoning galgos has virtually no consequences."
I have a great announcement to make, that I hope brings the beginning of a remedy for the galgo cause. Please share this on your networks to raise awareness of the efforts, at all levels, to end cruelty against animals, in this case the Spanish sighthound, the galgo.
It was a true honor to participate in this conversation. I will expand on this experience in future posts, for now I will leave you with the beginning of my intervention. Please watch the full Intergroup Session on Greyhound and Galgos - Eurogroup for Animals.
First of all, I would like to thank you for the invitation and for caring to learn more about the plight of the galgo.
Here I will try to bring you some of the things I learned during the four years in the trenches of rural Spain, making a thorough documentary about this breed, galgo español.
Now, I would like to take the next minute and a half to set the scene by showing a video, which introduces some of the protagonists in this complex story.
Subtitles available in eleven languages, choose yours by pressing the CC button in the corner. The film is recommended by the Spanish Ministry of culture for audiences above 13 years of age.
Watch the Recorded Live Session
You can see the whole session below. My intervention begins at min 40'10''.
Allow me to point out two of the many highlights of the conversation, which I believe are very beneficial for raising awareness about the issue, and end with the cruel hunting practices being taken as "Bien de Interés Cultural" - translated as Token of interest for culture, or cultural products.
Min - 1:11:10 - Petras Austrevicius MEP
“I have a proposal to write a letter to some Spanish media editorials, presenting this issue, and asking the federal government and the provincial governments of Spain to take some urgent actions. As in ringing the bell…”
Min - 1:15:10 - Anja Hazecamp MEP
On conflict with European regulations in regards to having running with greyhounds/galgos considered cultural heritage.
“These barbaric practices, in my opinion, can never be called Cultural Inheritance. I think article 13 clearly states that: The European Commission, the European Parliament, the European Member States, should take the welfare and wellbeing of animals as being sentient beings into account in every policy area. So I think there is a real conflict here, and it is clear that everything that is happening with the galgo is not in line with article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty.”
Download the PDF of my presentation with the extended notes here.
I will be using some of its slides in this article.
Presentation - Yeray López
Hunting with galgos must be understood within the bigger context of legal hunting in Spain, and the use of dogs for such purposes. I must understand that this is cultural and it is widely spread. In fact, the hunting grounds occupy 85.6% of the national territory.
The hunters have a total of 31,002 hunting grounds, they are called cotos, less than four thousand of them are public, and can be managed by hunting societies or federations.
But not everybody hunts. Only 1.6% percent of the population has a hunting license, some of which are given for free to retirees over 65 years of age, people with disabilities, and unemployed. Hunting, when it happens, makes exclusive use of the land over any other activity that the remaining forty-six and a half million people might want to do in nature. No cycling, no mushroom picking, no photography. Actually, these people could be fined if they disrupt the hunting activity.
Last year there were 52 deaths from hunting accidents and more than 600 injured. In Spain you can hunt from the age of 14.
Even during the pandemic of COVI19, and while many other businesses are closed, hunters have been exempted from quarantine and can travel between communities to hunt. Hunting is considered an essential activity
HUNTING WITHOUT THE CONTROL OF A STATE FRAMEWORK
There is a different Hunting Law in each Autonomous Community, which means 17 DIFFERENT HUNTING LAWS, and different animal welfare regulations. These communities do not share information, have different databases, and as you can imagine everything is a mess, and it is quite hard to understand the magnitude of the problem.
There is no control in the obligation to establish a census of the dogs collected in the public dog pounds and private shelters.
There is little or no penalty for the owners of dogs that fail to comply with the vaccination regulations or to microchip their animals. Most of the dogs that arrive at the shelters have no chip, and without a chip, that dog is kind of invisible. It will not enter the statistics of the police, there will be no cause to be filed, and no investigation.
I have seen hundreds of galgos with the scar of having had the chip cut out. I have witness galgueros arriving at a shelter to abandon galgos, five, eight dogs, and none of them had microchips. They are not forced by law to pay for services to the shelter when delivering the dogs, so for them, it is a pretty easy way to get rid of the ones they don’t want. There is no control over the population of hunting dogs whatsoever.
Estimates say that half a million galgos are not registered in Spain. To that, we have to add 190.000 who are federated and microchipped. That is the floating population, a kind of a constant. The hunting federation states that the average life expectancy of a hunting dog is four years, in the case of galgos much less.
The selection of galgos begins at birth. Most males are discarded right after seeing the light of day. They are not interesting as they are not breeders. Galgueros might keep a couple of male puppies, the rest are easily disposable and keep the females, who also start running earlier in life.
Bear in mind that galgos are like rabbits, they have big litters from 8 to 14 or 16. So massive breeding is a huge problem. We can talk about the life of a galgo and the different times in which its luck might end, but that’s a longer story.
What I am trying to communicate here, is how massive the burden imposed by hunting is on private individuals and organizations. The state does not help them. The villages on which these women work, because they mostly women, don't normally help either. And sometimes they are threatened and ostracized.
On the image on the left is when we found a mass graveyard, right outside a village, by the motorcycle park, that had been used for years to kill and throw galgos. We took 26 bodies out, but there were many more layers of dogs there, only one had a chip. Well, in this case, the major wanted us to stop and of course to stop talking.
The picture to the far right is of a galgo that a group of women was trying to rescue. The dog appeared stabbed, under some rocks in the place where they were feeding him, with the note “you better stop”.
There are many anecdotes like these ones, but I can assure you that I haven’t seen the authorities making much effort to follow cases like these unless they got media attention.
- Lack of help from the administration
- Lack of financial means
- Tensions with the breeders and sometimes the community
- Never-ending problem (it is not seasonal)
PROPOSED ACTIONS / SOLUTIONS
- Stop considering hunting a cultural token. Hunting should be a private activity, not regulated and funded by the Ministry of Culture and Sports. That goes against public opinion and its funding from public administrations is quite asymmetric if we compare it with the number of practitioners of other sports like tennis or swimming.
One example: The community of Andalucia has declared the “rehalas”, a set of hunting dogs of the hound breed used only for hunting big game, an Asset of Cultural Interest, thus protected and funded.
- Prevent the continuous defunding of the Forest Guard. They have a hard time controlling that the rules are followed. They are not endorsed by the Autonomous Communities, cannot carry weapons, and declared that they feel unprotected. In 2018 a hunter killed two forest guards after being asked for his hunting license. Poaching is a big problem too.
- Control breeding, and establish special licenses and training for doing it.
- Create unified legislation for the entire Spanish territory.
- The Spanish state must implement community regulations and directives on animal matters and transpose them into national laws with the greatest agility.
Example. It is known that, in relation to migratory birds and songbirds, it is not complying with European regulations and the Spanish State has been warned of economic sanction)
- That respect for nature, the environment, and animals is taught and promoted from the European and national levels through programs, workshops, conferences, etc. in Schools, Institutes of Public Education, Universities, etc.
- Greater transparency from the Higher Sports Council (called Consejo Superior de Deportes) about benefits, subsidies, and aid to hunting. Increase control and publicity in the use of these grants and subsidies and the publication of results on objectives achieved.
- Memories and Statistics, Yearbooks that oblige the Autonomous Communities and, the Hunting Federations, to deliver annually the data required by the State on the number of affiliates, licenses, dogs, and hunting farms.
- That Hunting in general and Hunting with galgos cease to be considered sports by the Higher Sports Council. Spain is the only country in the European Union in which the use of dogs for hunting is allowed.
- That the municipalities are helped to become aware and discover that there are alternatives to hunting, that can also be lucrative and create wealth in the municipalities.
- Ultimately, we intend that the rights of citizens who wish to enjoy nature peacefully and in harmony in our municipalities are respected.
TRANSPARENCY PORTAL FOR AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES AND CITY COUNCILS. OFFICIAL NEWSLETTERS AUTONOMOUS COMMUNITIES. AFFINITY FOUNDATION STUDY ON ABANDONMENT 2020 “HE WOULD NEVER DO IT”. REPORT OF THE FISCALÍA DE ENVIRONMENT 2019 YEARBOOK OF FOREST STATISTICS 2018 MINISTRY OF ECOLOGICAL TRANSITION AND DEMOGRAPHIC CHALLENGE 2019. DIARY OF PARLIAMENTARY SESSIONS SENATE SENATOR COMMITMENT CARLES MULET 2020
PORTAL DE TRANSPARENCIA DE COMUNIDADES AUTÓNOMAS Y AYUNTAMIENTOS. BOLETINES OFICIALES COMUNIDADES AUTÓNOMAS. FUNDACION AFFINITY ESTUDIO SOBRE EL ABANDONO 2020 “ÉL NUNCA LO HARÍA”. INFORME DE LA FISCALÍA DE MEDIO AMBIENTE 2019 ANUARIO DE ESTADÍSTICA FORESTAL 2018 MINISTERIO DE TRANSICIÓN ECOLÓGICA Y RETO DEMOGRÁFICO 2019. DIARIO DE SESIONES PARLAMENTARIAS SENADO SENADOR COMPROMÍS CARLES MULET 2020
Anna Clements - SOS Galgos - presentations starts at min 11:34
Please visit the Agenda for the Session
Agenda for the Session on Greyhound and Galgos - Eurogroup for Animals
I hope this was useful to you.
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