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Traditional hunting dogs in danger. Rescuing Spanish greyhounds

Traditional hunting dogs in danger. Rescuing Spanish greyhounds

Image source: © galgorescue.org
Marta Grzeszczuk,
29.02.2024 16:15

A report by the "Dział Zagraniczny" podcast examines the mistreatment of greyhounds in Andalusia, which has outraged animal rights activists.

Maciej Okraszewski's podcast "Dział Zagraniczny" (Foreign Department) is among the most popular Polish productions. It is quite ironic because the podcast's subtitle is "The Polish reader will not be interested in this." In the episode published on 29 February 29, Okraszewski and his guests discussed whether it is true that up to 50,000 greyhounds are abandoned in Spain every year.

Greyhounds are bred in Andalusia for sport hunting

Animal rights organisations fighting to improve the situation of greyhounds in Spain, particularly in Andalusia, cite a figure of 50,000. This is the number of greyhounds that are bred in this agricultural region. For hundreds of years, these dogs were used by poor farmers to hunt hares running in the fields, which were an enrichment to their diet, especially in winter. However, today, hunted hares are not eaten by anyone, as admitted in the Foreign Department podcast by Amador Rodríguez, spokesman for the Spanish Greyhound Association.

The Spanish Greyhound Association is an organisation of legal greyhound breeders. Nowadays, these dogs are primarily used for "sport" hunting in Andalusia. The competition involves releasing two greyhounds simultaneously after one hare. The first greyhound to catch the hare wins. This sport is even formally registered in Spain, and the organisation to which Rodríguez belongs falls under the Spanish Olympic Committee, among others.

How many greyhounds are abandoned after the hunting season?

A representative of the Greyhound Association has distanced themselves from the widespread practice of abandoning large numbers of dogs that are no longer needed for hunting after the season is over. Association members are required to register their dogs and place identification chips under their pets' skin, making it easy to trace the owners. Therefore, according to Rodriguez, abandoned dogs do not concern them. However, some breeders are not members of the association and are believed to be responsible for the mass abandonment of dogs. The true scale of the problem is unknown, as there is no official register of stray animals in Spain.

Activists protesting against the mistreatment of Spanish greyhounds
Activists protesting against the mistreatment of Spanish greyhounds (Facebook)

Maciej Okraszewski recently visited Benjamín Mehnert, a foundation in Andalusia that rescues unwanted animals. The shelter, located a few kilometres from Seville, houses around 600 animals, of which 90% are greyhounds. Aza Barrios, who works at the shelter, revealed that most of the greyhounds arrive sick and injured, with paw fractures and gunshot wounds. Starvation and dehydration are common problems, too. Despite these challenges, the foundation manages to find homes for approximately 1,000 greyhounds every year.

Hounds used for hunting are physically or psychologically injured

Aza explained that while physical injuries can be healed with medication and care, psychological injuries are the most severe for the greyhounds. According to her, these dogs have been used as tools and arrive at the facility with immense fear. Some are so frightened that they cannot even look at people and end up urinating on themselves. The report by two sisters who adopted two of Benjamín Mehnert's greyhounds confirmed just how bad the emotional state of these rescued dogs can be.

"My dog could not be approached by men. She feared my father and boyfriend and wouldn't let anyone pet her on the street. And she was also afraid when someone approached her with a broom. I think they might have beaten her. To this day, she still doesn't like it, but her fear of men has passed," recalls one of the sisters, Julia.

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The second dog, owned by Angelica, Julia’s sister, was surrendered to the shelter by the breeder himself. It had a chip and was fully vaccinated. Rocío Arrabal, the shelter's director, explained that more and more dogs are being surrendered by breeders, legal or not, which may seem like progress compared to abandoning them anywhere or even brutally killing dogs that are no longer deemed worth keeping.

"They surrender their greyhounds to the shelter because they don't want another breeder to acquire them. It's not uncommon for someone to come to the shelter, aware that another breeder left their dog there the day before, hoping to adopt it. However, we always prioritise the dog's well-being and won't give it to the breeder. I've even witnessed a greyhound breeder cry while surrendering their dog to the shelter out of sadness, but they understand it's the best decision for the dog's future," explained Arrabal with a bitter tone.

Source: działzagraniczny.pl

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