Last month Spain passed a law that has been in the works since 2017. This new law defines animals as sentient beings and declares that their needs must be considered when it comes to civil disputes like divorces. Things move slowly here, but they do move.
There is hope for the Galgos in Spain.
Gin and Tonic
On the first Sunday in December, two Galgos were found in southern Spain with their microchips cut from their necks. Named Gin and Tonic by the (very British) volunteers at the shelter, their story is not unique--but it is becoming rarer. As is often the case, when laws are passed they don't always have the results their authors intended. Spain requires that all dogs be microchipped so that they can be identified...which can result in further injury for dogs who are deliberately abandoned.
But this story has a happy ending. Not only were the police immediately involved in Gin and Tonic's case, but the ever growing network of dog rescuers in Spain jumped into action. SHUG was contacted and we were able to bring Gin and Tonic to The Ugly House, where they have learned about couches and soft beds. Later this month they will be flying to the west coast where Gin has a home waiting in Canada and Tonic is heading to a foster (with intent??) in Oregon.
Wally and Tigger
When we moved into our property here in the Alicante region, we quickly realized that one of our neighbors had Galgos. This is a rural area, surrounded by farmland and these Galgos were not living the life of pampered pets. In fact, they were often seen running down the road without collars, dodging cars and harassing the neighborhood cats. When we asked about them, the owners offered to sell them to us...for 1000 euros.
It was a campaign that took several months and involved enlisting the help of the other neighbors on our road, but eventually the two galgos were surrendered to SHUG. Wally and Tigger, as we've named them, are now getting the treatment that they need to be healthy, happy boys and will soon be looking for their own forever homes.
There are happy endings for the Galgos in Spain.
The Galgos are Spain
We know there are still tragedies here. There are dogs who are not treated well, who are hurt and in need--but there are people here working to solve these problems. There are small shelters and large shelters and fosters and transporters. There are people who volunteer and there are people who donate.
I have seen people online commenting about "hating Spain" because of the plight of the galgos here. That is not the message we want you to take away. Yes, there are dogs in need here. There are people in need here too. Spain as a whole has gone through rough times. When we started working with the dogs here, the unemployment rate in Spain was 25%. It's now down to 15% but it's still one of the highest rates in Europe.
Spain was in turmoil for most of the 20th century, including a civil war and the reign of a fascist dictator who was friends with Mussolini and Hitler. The amount of progress that Spain has made just in my lifetime is astounding. And that progress has included strides toward protecting the welfare of Spain's dogs.
We are all moving forward together.
On this day--the Day of the Galgo--please don't hate Spain and love Spanish dogs. The Galgos are Spain. The very best part.