Fermin Perez is President of Scooby in Spain. He has led its development from a refuge for stray dogs and cats in a disused ruin, to a purpose-built shelter with running water, electricity and an onsite clinic. Fermin talks to Greyhound Compassion about Scooby’s journey – and the hundreds of abused galgos that are saved by Scooby every year.
Greyhound Compassion (GC): Fermin, how did you start with these galgos?
Fermin: Well, I am a science teacher in a secondary school and many years ago, one pupil came to me, not knowing what to do, because his uncle (a galguero) was going to hang his galgo. I was shocked. It was then I went to the pine groves on the outskirts of Medina del Campo and saw with my own eyes the hanging galgo corpses in the trees. I used my camera and blasted the evidence far and wide. This shamed the local galgueros into stopping the hangings. Now, they surrender them to Scooby at the end of the coursing season or they leave them to stray in the streets. We pick them up, often the victims of a car accident by that time.
GC: Have the hangings stopped?
Fermin: They have more or less stopped in Medina del Campo. Occasionally, we come across a galgo corpse in the woods which is always very tragic but rare nowadays. At the end of the last coursing season in 2018 we rescued a pregnant female galgo with deep wounds in her neck (pictured below). She had almost certainly got herself down from a noose, made her way into the village centre before collapsing.
Greyhound Rescue, Lincolnshire is one of the shelters Greyhound Compassion supports and we asked them to update us on their activities.
Well, here we are with our letter to you which normally comes from our sponsor dog Freya who has been very good over the years at writing them and letting you all know what has been happening here at the rescue and keeping you informed on all her pals.
As you may have already seen, Freya was taken from us suddenly after a very quick and unexpected illness and we can only say that life in the kennels has not been the same without that remarkable little girl’s presence.
She was a joy to be around, always happy and skipped out of the kennels every morning and teatime. We miss that skip, that love she gave us back in bundles.
So to you Freya, a big hole in our hearts and a massive emptiness in a very full kennel block young lady. What an impact you made.
So we have to do your write up with tears running down our faces as we remember you and how all the other dogs were so worried about you…and we remember also Solo, who was a lifetime kennel dog who we lost on 23 December after a short illness. She was in with her 21 year old mum Opal, who is now coping well again after getting her new kennel mate Gem.
With rescue comes sadness, heartache, as much as reward. More so. We must not dwell, Freya would be saying, and all the others that went before her. But we are only human. Just the same as our owners…we just don’t get the same time to grieve.
We have to carry on for the others and the next one that is going to fill that empty kennel, however hard we find it.
And sometimes even we don’t know how we get through it. It can become clockwork for a while and we just ‘stop thinking’ for a time.
You cannot show the others how you feel inside, we still have to sing to them, play with them and have fun with them, or what is the point for them… Just as we did for Freya and Solo when they lost pals.
And so that is what we did, and will continue to do…for all of them.
We have been struggling with various issues as happens from time to time, we had the boiler break down and needed a new one to which Greyhound Compassion came to the rescue to help fund it, which we and the dogs thank them so very much. We are also needing the roof inside sorting, with boarding out which will provide extra warmth for the dogs as a lot of heat is lost though there.
We are in desperate need all year round of good old fashion (big bed) blankets for the kennel dogs. We also need to do a bit of cosmetic work inside the kennels to freshen it up and there are a lot of works to be carried out in the grounds which Karen and myself used to do ourselves but due to Karen’s illness, she can no longer carry out herself.
All this unfortunately comes at a cost which we are not used to having been more self-sufficient and this has had a knock on effect on Karen as she feels saddened by this even though she has done it herself for the last 38 years or so.
Karen managed to come out fundraising on Sunday 11 March for a couple of hours. Now Karen is by no means doing nothing, believe me when I say she is an amazing lady who even with this illness and with fractures down her spine and a break in the base of her spine she still refused to stay in hospital and came home and got herself to the animals to do what she could and she still does. She never stops even on crutches constantly now and have to say she still puts me to shame and tells me to ‘jog on’ we have work to do!!
Karen is struggling with walking now and this is how it is but in her words ‘it is what it is and I will continue to do what I can for as long as I can’…and as I know Karen, while ever she has a breath in her body, she will…and will never let any animal down.
Karen continues on crutches to care for the animals and as always they adore her interaction with them! She does tell me however she can no longer pick up poo!!! That’s ok though as I have a certificate in poo shovelling!
We have decided to have a singalong in the afternoon with the dogs as Brindy in particular enjoys this and Linda. These two really get the others joining in! Edgar has a dance and we all have a good howl, including Karen and me! I am not actually sure if the dogs aren’t trying to drown out my beautiful singing voice but I think they enjoy it!
We have had a good year with re-homing and are looking forward to another and hopefully our online website shop is moving in the right direction now with sales on the handmade martingale collars and hand painted pyrography leather collars Karen is making. She is also doing a range of harnesses and fleece coats (nightwear) too! So all good.
We also have many greyhounds for sponsorship which can be found on our online shop. We appreciate all your continued support.
Linda and Lucinda were here with us when we lost Solo. We would like to say a thank you both for your support and to Lucinda for all the help with Solo and the kennel dogs on that sad day.
We have had some losses yes and we have had some new ones in. Welcome Jack, the new sponsor dog. Ben, Linda, Billy all ready for adoption and Olga who has just been reserved. The kennels are full to busting as always and always another waiting.
Edgar our blind greyhound who was from the Romanian circus is making fantastic progress with trust and plays now. He loves toys and treats and dancing while we mop! He also loves my singing which is quite something! He always gives us the ‘once over’ by sniffing our hair and face to check it is us before he ‘let’s himself go’ but he is still very nervous of new people coming in and out of the kennels which is understandable with what he has been through.
Whether he will ever be able to overcome this is something we will continue to work on with him. After being hanged and surviving that and then the trauma of being rescued in Romania and transported for five days by van to the UK to us, it is no wonder he is taking some time. He deserves so much credit for ever learning to trust a human again and we consider ourselves to be very lucky and honoured he does.
Jack, the new ‘sponsor boy’ is also doing well. He still has a way to go but he has put weight on and is looking a lot better. He still has a few issues with nerves but again Karen is working with him and he is a lot more settled. He is a very big lad and very loving and needy. Very handsome.
Brindy is getting older but still as noisy as ever when it is treat time of any kind of food time! He is such a ‘different’ kind of greyhound to the normal! But still, he tells us he is just misunderstood!
Lobo & Blanca are still thinking they are puppies even at nine! They are still very beautiful loving greyhounds although have been a bit of a handful over the years!
Opal is now 21 years old and we have just put her daughter Gem in with her after the loss of her other daughter and kennel-mate Solo. It was a very sad time for Opal but Gem has cheered her up and they often cuddle up in bed together.
Roger, our lurcher is also doing well. Cheeky boy, very cheeky boy! He loves to play and loves all the other dogs. Such a friendly boy. He now trusts and loves human contact too but is still very scared of big open spaces and checks where we are.
Pandora and Apollo are still like an old married couple and cannot be apart from each other! They have been in love from the start, although Pandora can sometimes be the ‘grumpy lady’ and puts Apollo in his place! He certainly knows his place!
Drac and Helsin, the saluki cross greyhound. Ex circus dancing dogs like Edgar from Romania. These two are so very loving and rely heavily on each other. They are like big babies but take some handling. They are like rockets and anxious when people visit for fear they are being taken away. Again, they have simply been through too much trauma.
Ilona is doing well. She came to us at three months and is now 21 months old! Finally growing up!!! Max is getting older, he’s now eight and says he is feeling it. He has not been the same since he lost his companion and our own girl Beau last March. We often do not realise just how close they really do get.
Willow is still a little monkey although a lot better than she was. She is a lovely black greyhound who will be with us for life and is now a new companion for Max.
Patch is 15 and lives along with West and Ilona. She thinks Ilona is her pup and we cannot tell Ilona off when she is naughty as Patch will tell us off!!! Patch has never taken to any other dog as much as Ilona! Ilona also adores Patch!
West is now about 14/15 and we have been worried about him as he is not in the best of health now although he is not in pain. He has been a very difficult lurcher in many ways and came to us from a family break-up. He has trust issues and does not like many people although gets on with the other dogs and adores all cats! He is very sensitive.
As you can see there are many reasons why some stay with us for life. Some due to illness and many due to trauma they have suffered.
We would like to again thank all of those past and present that have sponsored any of our dogs and especially those who sponsored our beautiful Freya, who has taken a piece of our hearts.
Ruth and Lesley are two of our trustees. They have 2 of our dogs, Harry and Jade. We had a stand at Heckington Show at the end of July 2016 with myself, Ruth, Lesley and Christine and of course Snowie, Bonnie and Max. We had a lot of fun over the couple of days we did it. Putting up a gazebo was stressful, where Ruth and Lesley were laid underneath it flat on the floor with the roof on their heads at one point. I don’t think we were understanding the instructions very well!
Ruth, Lesley and Christine were all amazing as were all the dogs.The show came to a close and we all got back to our own ways of life! A week went by and Ruth called and we were chatting about the show and I asked “Are you ok? You sound a bit rough?” She replied with she had had a bit of an accident on her pushbike. She lives in Salford and she had got the front tyre stuck in the tram line and come off and bumped her head… we told her she should maybe get it checked out and she said she would if it didn’t get any better and we thought no more of it.
Ruth had a CT and MRI scan and what was revealed was devastating to all of us and this is one time we are glad she came off her pushbike as this was nothing to do with the accident. Ruth had cancer – A brain tumour. Read Ruth’s story in her own words.
We would like to thank Greyhound Compassion, Linda, Lucinda, Magic, Petal and Tess and all the fundraisers/supporters for their amazing, continued support over the last year. As you know and have seen, we couldn’t do it without you!
With love from
Dawn of Greyhound Rescue
Here, our friend Ruth talks candidly about her cancer diagnosis, and her beloved greyhound Harry.
In October 2014, after suddenly losing our old greyhounds, Harry and Jade came into our lives – two very bouncy, happy loving youngsters and boy, did we feel the difference!
Fast forward two years, to August 2016, and I had a minor accident where I fell off my pushbike. I got low grade concussion and was soon after diagnosed with a high grade brain tumour. Surgery and radiotherapy followed.
The dogs kept me going, they and my wife were amazing. As soon as I could walk, I was back out every day with them getting some fresh air. They made me recover quicker and I owe my fitness and health to them.
At the end of February 2017, whilst on a trip to Bristol, the dogs stayed with my parents. Upon our return, Harry had a small lump on his bum. Mum and dad had spotted it and taken him to the vets whilst we were away as they were worried. We kept an eye on this for around six weeks or so, taking him back and forth to our vets, trying various tablets, until in April the vet told us that my gorgeous blue boy had cancer too.
This was heart-wrenching. I love my pup so much and the thought that I might lose him was shocking. The vet diagnosed him with a mast cell tumour which reacted to histamine, hence why it had been so reactive to all the medications that he had been given. When initially found, it had been around a 2cm lump, increasing to a 15-20 cm lump before it was removed.
On the 21 of April Harry went in for surgery. We had been told that it would be a lengthy procedure and after six hours of not hearing anything, I phoned the vets. I was told that the vet was just finishing with the surgery and that it had been much more complex than expected. I went over to see him that evening and the poor boy didn’t know me. I asked if they would keep him in overnight as I knew that we couldn’t care for him at that time. He wasn’t able to stand, he was so weak, it was so painful to see.
The following day, we went over to Sheffield to collect a dog on behalf of Greyhound Rescue, then took him to his new home. It was heart warming seeing a new partnership of dog and ‘new mummy’ and made us both realise how much Harry means to us. That afternoon we both went to see Harry at the vets and found him extremely lethargic and not in a good way. The vet said that he had lost a lot of blood during surgery and they hadn’t known if he would pull through the first night or not. On 23 April, we brought him home with the instruction to keep him quiet and return him for a follow up check in two days’ time.
We took him back and he was starting to heal well. The vet was pleased, cleaned and changed his dressing and asked us to come back in a couple of days for his next check-up. We were changing his dressing daily ourselves and the day after the visit, when we checked his wound, a large part of the skin graft had died. We rushed him over to the emergency vets and the dead skin was cut off, the wound was cleaned but it had left a gap of around 20cm by 10cm of open skin. The vet who cleaned the wound wasn’t hopeful that it would heal and it left us feeling very deflated.
The following week, Harry was back at the vets having emergency surgery, our amazing vet had a pioneering new surgery which would stretch some of the healthy skin over the wound to reduce the size of it, allowing a smaller open wound to have the best possible chance of healing.
He recovered from this surgery much quicker although he still required the wound dressing daily and twice weekly visits to our vets in Leeds (from Manchester where we live). These continued for the following six months to allow for regular dressing changes and cleaning, as well as laser treatment to assist with speeding up the healing of the wound.
By the start of June, his wound had healed enough that we were able to start him on chemo. Following the histology results, it was revealed that he had a grade 3 tumour, however the lab were unsure whether full clearance had been taken or not, therefore the vet wanted to start him on Palladia. Knowing how I was feeling taking chemotherapy, I worried how Harry would be. I was having chemo every six weeks and it was taking it out of me for between 5-10 days each time. My poor pup was going to be on it every other day. The vet explained that dog chemo is very different to human chemo and that he would be unlikely to have any side effects.
I couldn’t believe that both of us had had cancer, and were now on chemo together. Everyone was joking that he was doing it out of sympathy for me, but I do believe that we are so close that, somehow, his tumour came out whilst he knew I was in treatment for mine.
We are both now in remission. Harry has had blood tests and is fully clear after six months of chemo, I had eight months in total and we are both well. We both have our scars but they don’t stop us getting on with our lives. He is still my beautiful blue pup, just with a slightly patchwork bottom!!
By MARGIE EASTER, USA Scooby volunteer
In 2000, I adopted my first greyhound, Daisy, from Greyhound Friends for Life (San Francisco Bay Area, California, USA). We adored her and spent 10 wonderful years together before having to let her go to osteosarcoma.
During this time, I subscribed to, ‘Celebrating Greyhounds’ magazine and read an article about Spanish galgos. I was horrified to learn how they were exploited and abused, and vowed to adopt a galgo someday.
Time went on and after losing Daisy and two of our older mixed-breed dogs, we adopted our second greyhound and another dog in 2010.
Our house seemed lonely with only two dogs, so I started to pursue contacts in my Facebook network to find out about galgo adoption groups. That’s how I found Scooby Medina del Campo, a galgo rescue sanctuary in the heart of the hunting region of Spain. I spoke with an adoption coordinator in the USA, learned about the process, applied for adoption, selected a lovely galga, named Bless, and impatiently awaited news regarding approval for adoption.
Once approved, the adoption coordinator offered an idea: “As long as you plan to adopt Bless, why don’t you go to Scooby to volunteer to see where she comes from?’’
I thought it outlandish at first, but at the same time, the idea of volunteering and bringing her back was very exciting. Everything came together and I went to Scooby for the first time in April 2011.
During my Scooby adventure, I had a wonderful time, met other dedicated volunteers from other countries, as well as the hard-working staff. I fell in love with the animals, which include galgos, mixed breed dogs, cats, horses, cows, donkeys, sheep, goats, as well as other types of animals — all rescued.
After that first visit, I was hooked on Scooby and the entire rewarding experience. Since then, I’ve returned 14 times, helped to establish a partnership between Scooby and my local greyhound adoption group, Greyhound Friends for Life, and have brought over 25 Scooby dogs for adoption in the USA. I now have three galgos of my own, two of them, Bless and Bones, from Scooby. I love them to pieces!
Greyhound? Galgo? What’s the difference?
Those who love greyhounds and have adopted one may become intrigued by the differences between greyhounds and the Spanish galgo. If you’re wondering, here’s some information:
Greyhounds are bred and trained primarily for racing. Galgos are bred and trained primarily for hunting. Like greyhounds, breeding and training conditions vary, but in general, galgos come from extremely difficult beginnings where they often experience cruelty, abuse, neglect and, ultimately, a very sad ending to their lives.
Greyhounds and galgos look very similar, but there are differences in size and appearance. Galgos may be a bit smaller in stature, have floppier ears, longer tails, shallower chests and bigger paws. They come in all shapes, sizes and wonderful colors, with brindles and markings that make them especially unique.
In general, both breeds have these things in common:
You can Google, “difference between greyhounds and galgos” to find lots of informative articles about galgos as pets.
Scooby Needs Our Help
In support of the ongoing efforts of Scooby, I remain a proud volunteer, transport companion and donor. The shelter always needs assistance to continue and grow its important mission to protect unwanted, abused and neglected animals.
I hope that you will consider helping in any way that you can. Please visit Scooby’s website for more information. I like to remember this saying, which supports the good work that we are doing for Scooby:
“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed, citizens can change the world; indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
LAW recently rescued a greyhound from the most barbaric cruelty. He had suffered third degree burns from boiling water. (This is the least worst picture because the injury is so gruesome). The kennel owner said he threw boiling water in the kennels to kill snails and the burns were an accident.
The kennel owner did not act immediately and did not provide any emergency treatment. The wound became infected but Limerick Animal Welfare’s vet quickly administered pain relief and intensive medical care. Soon, he was comfortable in a fresh bed. It’s going to take more than a month of bandaging and treatment to get him well, but he is getting great care from LAW’s vet who loves the hounds.
Fortunately, Greyhound Compassion had the funds available to contribute to the poor greyhound’s costs. GC has transferred a donation to LAW and hopefully this will fund a full recovery. Let’s hope and pray that we are soon posting pictures of him wagging his tail or reclining on a sofa in a loving home.
“Basta ya!” (Enough is enough!) was one among many comments made alongside our petition, imploring King Felipe VI of the Kingdom of Spain to withdraw his association with El Campeonato de Espana de Galgos en Campo through the Copa Su Majestad El Rey.
This would certainly be more befitting of his reign over a modern European society in the 21st century. The petition, which has now ended, collected 3,751 signatures from around the world.
This comes after our letter on behalf of all of the international organisations supporting Protectora y Santuario Scooby last year. We warned the King that if he didn’t act, we’d launch a petition.
We’ve now posted the final petition to King Felipe VI, along with the many comments we received.
In April, Greyhound Compassion was invited to the All-party Parliamentary Dog Advisory Welfare Group (@APDAWG1) meeting about third party puppy sales. APDAWG seems to be an agile group giving small to mid-size dog welfare charities, organisations and campaigners a voice in Westminster.
Chaired by Rob Flello (Labour MP at the time and very good dog advocate) and Marc Abraham, the meeting had energy and gave us hope for an active voice on dog related issues in Westminster.
We were, however, hugely disappointed to learn at the meeting that DogsTrust, Battersea and the Blue Cross refuse to support an immediate ban on puppies sold in pet shops, preferring a stronger licensing regime for breeders.
Everything we’ve heard from Local Authority Inspectors suggests that local authorities have neither the financial nor human resources to strengthen licensing or stray dog control. This would be a completely unrealistic expectation.
Apparently, DogsTrust does not see a ban as a practical solution even though the Select Committee on Environment, Farming and Rural Affairs recommended a ban. We heard stories of back street and rural puppy farming supplying puppies for internet and pet shop sales and families buying these puppies in good faith.
Often, the puppies turn out to be sick with fatal consequences, or they end up in rescue because families cannot cope with the newly acquired puppy. This is a serious welfare issue and does mean that irresponsible breeding and abandonment of these dogs unnecessarily adds, at best, to an inflation the numbers in pounds and rescue centres (where we know the rescued greyhounds are also queuing up) and at worst to suffering and death.
A ban would improve the welfare of millions of dogs in the UK. Disturbingly, it has become apparent that, Dogs Trust, the UK’s largest dog welfare charity, has actually advised the Government against banning third party sales. The DogsTrust’s aversion to a ban appears to be primarily based on a view that it is necessary to satisfy the demand for puppies. Fuller information is available here. We were pleased to hear a statement read by the RSPCA making it clear that a ban is the only way to end puppy farming.
Since April, no meeting has been held by the APDAWG while new appointments are made. We will bring you further updates when we can.
One of the highlights of September is a trip to PupAid, the fun dog show organised by Marc Abraham (Marc The Vet) and his team of volunteers. The event is held in support of the PupAid campaign to end the cruel practice of puppy farming.
We entered Magic the greyhound into ‘Most Macho’ and he took 4th place, judged by Ali Drew from Ex on the Beach. Petal, the galgo, took 4th place in ‘Bravest Dog’ judged by Peter Egan, Sir Tony Robinson, Pen Farthing and Finn the police Dog with PC Dave Wardell.
PupAid is a lovely event, putting value on the dogs and exuding a warm, informal and fun atmosphere, helped by large doses of sunshine. Through awareness-raising and education, PupAid aims is to discourage people from buying puppies from pet shops or online from dealers. They ambition is that demand for these poorly pups will decrease, bringing to an end this evil practice of puppy farming. Marc relentlessly lobbies MPs in Westminster to positively influence laws affecting our nation’s pets. The campaign has the support of 120 MPs.
How and where should you find a dog?
PupAid’s aim is to educate the British public about the correct way to get a dog. They are urging people to either adopt a rescue dog or visit a responsible breeder where you will always see the puppy with its mother. If the puppy is not interacting with mum and the breeder is not an Assured Breeder recommended by the Kennel Club, then be suspicious.
If you ask us though, ‘adopt don’t shop!’ and only from a rescue centre which is a registered charity.
Over the years we’ve noticed at all of our collections how the public is now fully aware of the ills of the greyhound racing industry. Many of the people we speak to also know what fantastic pets greyhounds make. This in itself is not unusual.
There is also always the ex-trainer, son of an old-time trainer, who remembers schlepping between Walthamstow or White City or any other track in the country, or a former kennel maid or racing owner. They come over to the dogs, touch them with a deeper fondness than the usual city centre shoppers, and stuff a tenner in the tin as they explain that they know the dirty washing of inside racing and are glad to have thrown in the towel. This is not unusual.
There are others who ask us about Greyhound Compassion’s charitable objectives and we talk about the galgos rescued by Scooby. They are absolutely horrified when they learn about the thousands of galgos bred and killed every year for the hare coursing fraternity. Some shed a tear as we talk about the galgos rescued from the streets and hunters by Scooby. This is emotional, but not unusual.
So what was unusual about our flag day in Welwyn Garden City? It didn’t rain, was quite warm and sunny! But it wasn’t the weather or the kids learning how to interact with a pet dog. It was the outpouring of warmth from the donors who proactively came up to Dustin, Lucy, Petal and Magic.
They told us so fluently about their greyhound at home on the sofa, their lurcher who had stolen the lamb steak the night before (Chilli, you know who you are!), their greyhound they’d moved overseas with and is now commanding respect in their local village, their neighbour’s greyhound who has convinced them to home a greyhound when they retire. It was endless.
The affection they showed for Dustin and his co-collectors was enormous. This was coupled with an increased abhorrence for the opaque racing industry which exploits the greyhounds as its commodity without any obvious care for injuries or life expectancy beyond the racing return.
We are very grateful to the donors who folded up their loose change and put in our tin on that day in WGC, but what was striking was the infinite and immeasurable sympathy for these gentle, affectionate and abused hounds.