Spain’s grey­hounds: abused when hunt­ing ends


With their nar­row head and long legs, grey­hounds are one of the fastest dog breeds on earth, mak­ing them the pre­ferred choice of hun­ters in Spain to catch rab­bits and hares.

But in­stead of be­ing re­warded, cam­paign­ers say grey­hounds are of­ten mis­treated, es­pe­cially once they have be­come too old to hunt.

Some own­ers train their grey­hounds to hunt by ty­ing them to their cars with a long rope and then driv­ing at 60 kilo­me­ters ( 40 miles) an hour, said Ed­uardo Aranyo of Span­ish an­i­mal pro­tec­tion party PACMA.

“There are an­i­mals that end up de­stroyed, lit­er­ally dragged by the car,” he told AFP.

Spain is one of only a hand­ful of Euro­pean coun­tries that al­low hunt­ing with the aid of grey­hounds, which trap, kill and pick up the prey. France, for ex­am­ple, banned hunt­ing with grey­hounds in 1844.

“The do­mes­tic dog, that we have at home, is an ob­ject of af­fec­tion, that you love and care for. But for hun­ters, dogs are of­ten just another tool for the hunt,” said a spokesman for the Civil Guard’s na­ture pro­tec­tion ser­vice Seprona.

Span­ish law is also soft in this area. Ty­ing a grey­hound to a car is an ad­min­is­tra­tive not a crim­i­nal of­fense and is only a crime is it causes se­ri­ous in­jury or death, he added.

Hun­ters own many grey­hounds, or “gal­gos” as they are called in Span­ish, and this some­times leads them to place lit­tle value on their lives, said Teresa Re­gojo of the Gal­gos en Fa­milia res­cue group which runs a grey­hound shel­ter in Malaga in south­west­ern Spain.

“Hun­ters have at least 10. They make them re­pro­duce with­out any con­trol to have a cham­pion grey­hound,” she said as she was sur­rounded by about two dozen grey­hounds at the shel­ter.

Un­reg­u­lated Ken­nels

When the hunt­ing sea­son — which runs from Novem­ber to Fe­bru­ary — ends, many hun­ters sim­ply aban­don their grey­hounds.

Cam­paign­ers such as SOS Gal­gos and Gal­gos del Sur es­ti­mate that 150,000 an­i­mals are aban­doned in Spain each year, onethird of them grey­hounds.

Some grey­hounds are drowned by their own­ers or hung.

“There are less hang­ings but now they drown them by throw­ing them in wells be­cause this is not seen, or they break their legs so they can’t re­turn home,” said the founder of Gal­gos en Fa­milia, Vera Thoren­nar.

The re­tired Dutch­woman ar­ranges to have the aban­doned grey­hounds which her refuge picks up adopted by fam­i­lies in other Euro­pean na­tions or in the United States.

Hun­dreds of aban­doned grey­hounds end up in mu­nic­i­pal ken­nels, where many are eu­th­a­nized.

There are also un­reg­u­lated ken­nels, where grey­hounds are kept un­til the hunt­ing sea­son re­opens.

“Peo­ple don’t want to pay for a nor­mal ken­nel dur­ing sev­eral months. It’s a cus­tom in some re­gions,” said the spokesman for the Civil Guard’s na­ture pro­tec­tion ser­vice Seprona.

The ser­vice in Septem­ber 2014 dis­man­tled a large un­reg­u­lated ken­nel near the town of Velez- Ru­bio in south­ern Spain that had starv­ing dogs and “re­mains of an­i­mals that had been de­voured by oth­ers,” he added.

At Guardiaro, some 125 kilo­me­ters ( 75 miles) from Malaga, a row of about 50 shacks made of wood and ce­ment and topped with cor­ru­gated me­tal sheets house about 100 hunt­ing dogs of all breeds with no food and wa­ter.

Aranyo of an­i­mal pro­tec­tion party PACMA has filed sev­eral com­plaints against the un­reg­u­lated ken­nel and its own­ers have been slapped with fines of be­tween 2,000- 30,000 eu­ros ( US$ 2,200- 33,000) for vi­o­lat­ing san­i­tary reg­u­la­tions.

‘ Mil­lenia- old trea­sure’

Fed­er­a­tions rep­re­sent­ing breed­ers of grey­hounds say the 150,000 es­ti­mate for aban­doned an­i­mals is part of a cam­paign to smear them.

Groups rep­re­sent­ing hun­ters re­fused to re­spond to AFP ques­tions.

An­to­nio Romero Ruiz, a farmer and for­mer law­maker in the Span­ish par­lia­ment, has de­fended grey­hound breed­ers, ar­gu­ing in a book on the sub­ject pub­lished in 2010 that the prac­tice of hunt­ing with grey­hounds is a “mil­lenia- old trea­sure.”

But Michele Strif­fler, a for­mer law­maker in the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment who drafted a pro­posed Euro­pean law to pro­tect grey­hounds, said “it is not pos­si­ble to tol­er­ate this abuse and tor­ture by ap­peal­ing to tra­di­tion.”

In a sign of shift­ing at­ti­tudes, in re­cent years courts have is­sued jail sen­tences for abuse of grey­hounds.

A grey­hound breeder and pres­i­dent of an as­so­ci­a­tion of hun­ters was sen­tenced in Oc­to­ber 2013 in Toledo in cen­tral Spain to seven months in jail for the crime of hang­ing two hounds.

“There are more young peo­ple who work to save ( grey­hounds) and that is a good sign,” said Thore­naar.


(Top) A grey­hound is seen on June 9, 2012 in front of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Stras­bourg, eastern France, dur­ing an in­ter­na­tional march against the abuse of Span­ish grey­hounds. (Above) Peo­ple par­tic­i­pate with their grey­hounds on June 9, 2012 in front of the Euro­pean Par­lia­ment in Stras­bourg, eastern France, in an in­ter­na­tional march against the abuse of Span­ish grey­hounds.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.