Today, February 1, is World Galgo Day. A day that marks the end of the hunting season in Spain and the start of the persecution of a wonderful breed of dogs. My heart breaks today thinking of the dogs in need of help. I want to warn you that this post is tough to read. I originally wrote this post last year but have updated it to reflect on new revelations. Please take a minute to read this post and share so we can stop the abuse of the Galgo.
Historically, Spanish Royals would use Galgos for hunting. Their light, slim bodies and incredible sight made them natural-born hunters. Today, hunters use them for sport in hare and lure coursing in rural Spain. As you might imagine, hare coursing is when the dogs chase a rabbit either through the countryside or on a track. Lure coursing is the same thing but a fake rabbit replaces the hare. Galgueros, or handers, train Galgos to hunt from the time they are puppies with often cruel training methods.
Galgos spend much of their lives in dirty, small, and uncomfortable conditions. Often, they are only fed water and whatever scraps are leftover. Galgos are rarely kept inside, rather in a pen or outdoor area away from the home. Each day they are made to run, jump, and learn things in order to become a champion hunter. Galgueros punish dogs if they don’t perform the correct commands. Sometimes with death. If a dog makes it to the hunting season, October through February, their fate rests solely upon their accolades.
Galgueros view these dogs as a cash crop. Therefore, if the dogs are costing too much and not producing, then they’re discarded, or worse. Handlers drop off the “lucky” ones at shelters. You can guess the outcome for the dogs that don’t perform well or “embarrass” their owners by falling short. Some Galgueros believe that they must torture, hang, or slaughter the dog in order to rid themselves of the poor performance of the season.
This isn’t some small thing happening, it’s estimated that 50,000 to 100,000 dogs are killed each year. On the low end, that’s 137 dogs per day that face brutality. It’s such a large number, it’s hard to comprehend fully. My mind still can’t grasp just how dire the situation is. Many people who read this post will think, “isn’t there something the government can do to stop this?” Well, sure, if the government wasn’t a part of the problem. The same officials that make laws are hunters. As such, there’s not any legal backlash for people hurting these dogs.
Furthermore, Galgos aren’t regarded as pets by the people who use them in sport. In fact, they’re not really viewed as a companion at all. Similar to pit bull type dogs here in the US, Galgos are unfairly judged to be vicious and aggressive. I’ve snuggled and kissed too many pitties to count, I know that stereotypes are ridiculous. I was not shocked when I met a Galgo for the first time last year and saw how wonderful they are. I can’t imagine why anyone would fear them. These dogs, much like my own Greyhound, tend to be sweet, sensitive, calm, and lazy. AKA the best dogs.
So, what can we do to end the terrible treatment of these beautiful creatures? There’s a lot. First and foremost, consider adopting or fostering a Galgo. If you’re in the Chicagoland area, check out Love, Hope, Believe, Galgo Adoption, Inc. They are an incredible group that brings Galgos from Spain to be adopted here. They are always looking for fosters and new adopters, you can fill out the application here. I submitted my application today so you’ll be in good(ish) company!
If you’re not able to adopt or foster, please consider donating. Your donation will go towards the care of these animals.
If you want to take it a step further and are traveling to Madrid any time soon, consider becoming a Galgo escort and you can literally save a life. Escorting a Galgo from Spain to Chicago is very simple. Love, Hope, Believe, Galgo Adoption, Inc. handles all the paperwork, passports, health certificates and costs of the dogs. Someone helps you check in the dogs and upon your arrival, you simply meet the dog and a veterinarian at the baggage claim to walk the dog out of customs to an awaiting volunteer. I’m thinking I need to go to Spain for this reason alone. If you’re interested, email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here.
While there are some truly awesome shelters doing great work to help rescue Galgos in Spain, they cannot save them all. That’s why groups like Benjamin Menhert Foundation and 112 Carlota Galgos are working to raise awareness for the breed and teach children how to care for these animals. Please share and consider donating to help these organizations continue to care for these dogs.
If Europe isn’t in your immediate future, stop by the upcoming Chicagoland Pet Expo to meet some Galgos and learn more about them!
The Galgos really do need our help. Please take a moment to share this or any other article about Galgos and let’s stop the abuse of this breed.
Thank you to Travis of Stinkeye Photography for capturing these beautiful images. If you’ll remember this picture from last year, it was an honor to work together again. This picture recently won third place at the Grand Imaging Awards show. Thank you Travis for giving this breed a voice. Thank you to Catalina for fostering Saulo and all the work you do for these dogs.
Saulo is a sweet, shy, but loving boy. We shot these photos together and he was such a gentleman! His forever family scooped him up shortly after this shoot. Congrats Saulo!
You can check out the other Galgos available for adoption here.
A huge thank you to Honey Bridal for lending me this dress. If you’re looking for a unique and beautiful dress, I cannot recommend Honey Bridal enough. Two local sisters own the shop. Oh, and they happen to own a Greyhound. This dress is Odylyne the Ceremony and for a hot second, I wanted to have another wedding just so I could wear this dress.
Another thank you to Room 1520 who allowed us to use their beautiful space free of charge. I mean, you know how cold it is, who can shoot outdoors?! The venue is beautiful so be sure to check it out for your next event! Thank you Urban Allure Events for connecting us, forever grateful.
Thank you Goldplaited for the hair and makeup! This year marks six years in business and to celebrate they’re offering 2013 prices. So, it’s a major steal. You can buy the package today and use it anytime before May 1. You KNOW I’ve already bought mine.