I have to start my first #DogHeroes post in Spain. I love Spain, I love the people, their attitude to life and the arts, and have found my trips to Madrid and Valencia to be among my most inspiring. However, and please forgive me for generalising for the moment, I do not love their attitude towards animal rights.
Bullfighting aside, as I could write whole blog posts about it, there are areas of great improvement needed in Spain’s animal welfare laws and regulations. Currently in Spain, the punishment for “cruelly mistreating pets or unjustifiably causing death or serious physical impairment” is three months to a year. And this only extends to pets.
You may or may not have heard of the Galgo, otherwise known as the Spanish Greyhound. Whether this dog is classified as a pet in the law is hard to tell, but in the eyes of many Spanish hunters, or galgueros, these dogs are not pets, but working animals, commodities. Much like greyhounds in the UK that have passed their racing peak, many Galgos find themselves neglected, abused or tossed out onto the street once they’re considered “no longer useful”. As many as 50,000 Galgos suffer every single year.
This is not a blog about shaming or blaming. Spain is aware of the issue, and there are processes in place to improve the welfare of these dogs. Cruelty can be a cultural thing, but it’s also about the individual. One galguero may love his dog, treat it like a member of the family, another may not. Another may send his dog to the “perrera” or the pound, with the best of intentions, but chances are these dogs will be killed within a short space of time.
There are people in Spain and across the world hoping for change, and they are working actively for it. The first of the #DogHeroes must surely be Galgos del Sol.
Who Are Galgos del Sol?
British ex-pat Tina Solera and her dedicated team run Galgos del Sol in Murcia, the heartland of Spain and hunting, where they keep over 150 Galgos, Podencos and other hunting dogs in need of everything from a bit of TLC to major operations and round the clock care.
This registered charity picks up Galgos dying on the streets, collects them from perreras and works 24/7 to give these dogs all the medical care, love and attention they so desperately need. There are stories of great tragedy, and there are also stories filled with hope. They also run an educational program on their premises and in local schools, to educate the next generation about the Galgo’s mistreatment.
Visit their Facebook Page and you’ll see just how much time and effort goes into every single dog that passes through their care. The needs of many of these dogs do not come cheap: many are horrifically injured, and some have deep emotional scars which take far longer to heal.
Every single Galgo deserves a second chance, and Galgos del Sol is making this possible. I urge you to visit their page, watch the stories, donate, and if you can, adopt! If you can’t then spread your thanks to these people, as I am sure they will appreciate every kind word, as what they do is emotionally draining at the best of times. And please share their work with the hashtag #DogHeroes.
What Is #DogHeroes?
#DogHeroes – highlighting the tireless work of dedicated individuals, groups and charities who rescue and rehabilitate dogs, and showcasing the difference that they make, very often relying on their own pocket and the donations of animal lovers like ourselves. Be aware, read the stories, if you see an abandoned or injured dog, pick it up, and if you can’t, give it what you can and pick up the phone. More importantly, understand that even the smallest donation can go a long way.
You can also help by sharing your own #DogHeroes. Use the hashtag, please! Share this blog, nominate your own heroes in the comments, and feel free to talk about this on social media. If you know a worthy cause, shout about it. If you adopted a dog from one of these angels, tell the world about it. And stay tuned for the next blog where I’ll introduce the next #DogHero.