About Project Galgo
Spanish Greyhound, Podenco and other Sighthound Rescue
About Project Galgo
“To promote humane behaviour towards animals by providing appropriate care, protection, treatment and security for animals, in particular but not limited to Galgos, Podencos and other Sighthounds, which are in need of care and attention by reason of sickness, maltreatment, poor circumstances or ill usage and to educate the public in matters pertaining to animal welfare in general and the prevention of cruelty and suffering among animals.”
We are a UK based, volunteer led, not-for-profit animal welfare rescue organisation dedicated to relieving and preventing the suffering predominantly, though not exclusively, of Galgos and Podencos (Spanish sighthounds) and Salukis who are in need of care and protection, in particular by rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing.
All our dogs are placed in loving foster homes, where they are given time to decompress after their journey over, they are given support to adjust and adapt to home life, and assessed in a range of situations/environments.
We offer a very conscientious adoption process and endeavor to ensure that our dogs find the best homes for them, where they are cherished, respected and loved beyond measure for the rest of their days.
It has been said that the dog is man’s best friend. If this is true, then the Galgos of Spain have been viciously betrayed. There is a very cruel custom amongst some Spanish hunters, or “Galgueros,” that destroys more than 50,000 Galgos every year.
The Galgos are greyhounds used for hunting, but most are used for only one season and then discarded. If they hunt poorly, they are tortured as retribution for the shame they reflected upon their owners.
The reasoning of the Galgueros is that by torturing and killing the dogs they wash away the dishonour the dogs displayed that brought shame to their masters. In reality, the practice is simply an exercise in sadism that involves burning the dogs with acid, dragging them behind cars, tying to train tracks, sacrificing them to fighting dogs, skinning or burying them alive (sometimes under rocks).
Galgos have been found with their eyes torn out or bottled to death. Very often decomposing Galgos are found down 60 foot wells, having been thrown down by their ‘master.’ There are also the Galgos tied up with chains, or who have their limbs intentionally broken, so they cannot return ‘home.’ One Galgo had been found and someone had gone at it with a pin hammer on the back of its head. Another group had been ‘waterboarded’ with petrol. A Galgo puppy of only a few months sadly lost her fight – her body was totally poisoned. Her name was Bruma.
Sometimes they are starved to death by clamping their mouths open with wood – I say sometimes, but they are always starved. The most famous torture is called the “piano dance;” this involves hanging the dog by the neck with the feet just touching the ground as it struggles to breathe and slowly is strangled to death by its movements, as it scrabbles in vain to touch the ground. This horrific death will last several days. The Galgo will make characteristic noises. There appears no end to the level of torture a Galguero is capable of.
Galgos are more often than not kept chained up down fetid holes, soiled with faeces and urine. Their living quarters or ‘zulos’ – dirty, tight, unregulated ‘kennels.’ Often in concrete bunkers, devoid of daylight, exercise, medical treatment and of course any sight of feelings. Often fed mainly with only bread, they eat each other when one falls from exhaustion. Before they are used for hunting, they are starved for days and embittered to make them better at hunting.
Most have died by the age of three, and it is very rare for a Galgeuro to keep a Galgo past the age of 9 months. They will sell them on or dispose of.
When the dogs reach two or three years of age and are weakened by malnutrition and lack of care, it is simply cheaper for the Galgueros to kill the dog to avoid feeding the dog until the next season, when they simply pick up a new dog for ten euros from one of many breeding facilities that supply the hunters. This is much less than the cost of food to maintain an adult dog between hunting seasons.
The bizarre thing is Galgueros often have family pets that are not Galgos that live in the family home. Galgos are treated as tools and money making machines.
Because the Galgos are regarded under Spanish law as working dogs, they are excluded from the laws relating to pets and can be disposed of or used in whatever manner their owner decides.
‘Good dogs,’ the ones who have not shamed their owner by being poor hunting dogs, are sometimes “rewarded” by being sent to perreras. These are municipal facilities where the dogs can be euthanized.
We have now brought many Galgos, Podencos and Salukis over to the UK to find their forever homes. We feel passionate in our mission to bring more to us, where their journeys to health, happiness, safety and love can continue, where they can heal from their past traumas.
We can liberate them from fear and we can help them be dog they have always deserved to be. We can show them kindness and a life beyond brutality and terror.
We work holistically with the dogs in our care. What is crucial to them is for them to feel safe. This may mean you don’t look at them for a few days to begin with, or in some cases weeks. This may mean that you don’t walk them for a bit, but instead you potter in the home and allow them to ‘just be.’ It is essential no dog be forced into recovery. We give our dogs time to rest first and then we take it slowly, gradually introducing this new way of life to them, at a pace they are comfortable with. For a dog to build trust, they must at first be able to feel safe.
One Galgo by the name of Marta was so terrified when she went into foster in Spain (after it took them 2 months to capture her to safety) – for the first 12 days she was with her nose in a corner of a spare bedroom, too scared to eat, too scared to look around. It is not unusual for them to be so traumatised and enter a catatonic state. Now, although still nervous of strangers, she was adopted by her foster mum, and trusts her implicitly. She is wonderful with the other dogs her mum fosters, and loves to play!
Thanks to some amazing Spanish Galgo rescues, there is light at the end of the tunnel, there is sanctuary, reprieve and hope.
We cannot save every one of them. If only we could. Until there is a significant change in Spanish law, hundreds of thousands of Galgos will continue to suffer mercilessly. But those that survive are testament that evil can be overcome.
And so Project Galgo was born….
This special project is dedicated to all those Galgos who have not only lost their lives to such senseless suffering, but those who have survived and will go on to survive and find the lives they have always deserved.
We currently collaborate with Galgos en Familia in Malaga and Fundacion Benjamin Mehnert in Seville who work tirelessly to free the Galgos.