For the past two years on this day, I’ve shared the story of the Gaglo. Each time I write it, I’m reminded of the horror and cruelty that this breed faces. I’ve now met plenty of Galgos and each one is so gentle and loving. I will continue to share their story every February 1 until they are no longer persecuted.
The post below was originally written last year, but their plight hasn’t changed. Please take a minute to read, share, and then help how you can.
Historically, Spanish royals used Galgos for hunting. Their light, slim bodies and incredible sight made them natural-born hunters. Today, hunters, or Galgueors, use them for sport in hare and lure coursing in rural Spain. As it sounds, hare coursing is when the dogs chase a rabbit either through the countryside or on a track. Lure coursing is the same, but a fake rabbit replaces the hare. Galgueros, 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 from their owners. Galgos are rarely kept inside, but 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, even 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 results,” then they’re discarded, and sometimes worse. Handlers drop off the “lucky” ones at shelters. The outcome for the dogs that don’t perform well or “embarrass” their owners by falling short is beyond cruel. Some Galgueros believe that they must torture, hang, or slaughter the dog in order to rid themselves of the poor performance of the season.
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 so I know that stereotypes are ridiculous. I was not shocked when I met a Galgo for the first time 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.
Also, 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?” Unfortunately, the government is a part of the problem. There are so many Galgueros in office that ordinances don’t get passed. As such, there’s not any legal backlash for people hurting these 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 fostered a Galgo and it was a wonderful experience.
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 consider donating to help these organizations continue to care for these dogs.
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. Thank you Travis for giving this breed a voice.
Frodo – Honestly, I wanted to adopt this boy on the spot. He is so calm, outgoing, and goofy. He loves people and would be the most perfect therapy dog. He’s also cat safe and loves other dogs.
You can check out the other Galgos available for adoption here.