Monday, 8 June 2009

June Galgo Rescue

I have just returned from a trip to Spain with a friend and others from the Organisation of L'Europe des Levriers. The reason for the trip was to bring back rescued Galgos and Podencas (Spanish hunting dogs) to the safety of France and onward to their new forever homes. The people in the refuges work selflessly with very little money to do what they can to right the wrong of the barbarism of the Spanish hunters who do not even acknowledge that the Galgos are dogs but use them as tools for hunting to discard at whim year after year. The people that help do such a great job to rescue them and need all the help they can get.

These dear dogs are regal and gentle and don't deserve to be treated in such an awful way. It is only in Spain and Portugal that this type of hunting is still legal and much is being done to try and change this but it is a long and tortuous task to try and change the mindset of these people who seem to enjoy nothing so much as cruelty to these animals . The hunters take along their young sons from 4 years old I was told, so the way of life becomes so entrenched in them generation after generation from an early age. They only use the dogs for hunting in the season and each hunter can have upwards of 80 -90 dogs who are thrown in a barn when not working and often only fed bread and water. At the end of the season they don't wish to keep them until the next season so the old way of dispensing with them is to hang them from the olive trees. If they have been a good hunter they hang them from the top so they die quickly, if not they hang them lower so their feet just reach the ground a little and they die slowly. They also throw them down wells, from cars and various other barbaric ways. The dogs discarded every year is upward of 50,000!!

The people in the refuges rescue all they can as indeed they do rescue other breeds of dogs discarded in Spain and do all they can with only mostly voluntary donations, to restore their health and find them permanent homes. These homes have to be outside Spain in countries where people treat them with the love and care as we do to our pet dogs. If they are left in Spain, come September the hunters will break in and try and steal them back for another season of hell.

I found the trip emotional of course but educational and rewarding. Between us we brought about 17 dogs back to France and many were reserved for the next trip in a months time when they have their pet passports. Most already had been adopted and have homes all over France to go to and a few went into foster homes. They were such lovely dogs and so amazingly kind and sweet when you think what their life has been up to now. I will certainly go back to help again and when finances and the situation here permits I will adopt one myself, in the meantime I mean to spread the word so anyone who is interested and will help in some way however small.

I took many photographs and have loaded some here. Anyone who would like to see them all go to my facebook page and there is a whole album there.

These first photos were taken at the first refuge we went to on the way to Seville.
Many dogs were here all wanting to find homes, but the men there were caring for them as best as they were able , keeping the pens clean and feeding them and none were hungry and all seemed to have a rapport with the men caring for them under such difficult circumstances.

This photo below shows some being fitted with Scalibor collars which are designed to control sandflies, the vectors of canine Leishminiasis and tick infestations for up to six months.

The three below are the first ones we brought back this time.

The next few photos come from a small refuge north of Cordoba run by a Dutch lady who keeps the pens spotless and cares for as many as she can but still many frightened dogs needing homes.

The two above on the right were so nervous they would not approach very far at all, so sad to see.

One of the bitches had been in pup when she was rescued so there are nine little angels soon wanting homes too!

These next pics came from another refuge north of Cordoba , a very small one.

We took quite a few dogs from here, and here is a pic of them being prepared for the journey. One or two had damaged their tails from being in cramped conditions and needed them treated before we took them onwards in the cars. We took a very old Podenca from this refuge who had arthritis and had to be lifted in and out of the car. He was so lovely and so interested in all he saw, just magic. He has a lovely home to go to in Normandy where I hope he has a wonderful time in his twilight years. His name is Sleepy and there is a pic of him at the end.

When we had collected all the dogs we drove north of Madrid and took them to a private kennel to have a peaceful and comfortable night before the onward journey the next day. We were very tired and ready for a meal and a good nights sleep too!

The next morning we were back to the kennels early to collect the dogs and start our homeward journey.

Here are some of them loaded up and ready for off. The red Volvo is the car we took with our 4 passengers in the back.

During the trip we stopped once to take the dogs out for a walk and give them a drink and then later on when back in France not far north of Bayonne we stopped at a house of a fellow galgo lover where we could let them all out in her garden for a while to rest and stretch their legs before the rest of the journey.

It just shows the gentle nature of these dogs that they all ran around, mixed with her dogs and no problems at all. All had fun.

This white Galgo lived here and was adopted 6 months ago. She is still very nervous but making a great recovery. If you look carefully at the photo you can see the scar around her neck where she was hung by the hunter. Luckily a rescuer found her and cut her down and carried her to safety and she recovered!

Here is the lovely Sleepy that I mentioned earlier. Isn't he just so sweet.

After we left here I was dropped off at Bordeaux to go home and the dogs went on to Niort for a night at the home of my friend Beryl and then they went on to their new homes the following day.
Hopefully they all enjoy the rest of their lives, they deserve it so much!