News & resources

Take action to stop exports of Irish greyhounds to China

i Apr 17th No Comments by

Ireland has exported 9 greyhounds to China to race at Macau greyhound racetrack in the last couple of months.  Please sign Grey2KUSA Worldwide’s petition to stop the exports.  The petition needs about 2,000 signatures to take it to 150,000.

https://www.change.org/p/prime-minster-taoiseach-enda-kenny-stop-export-of-irish-greyhounds-to-china

We were really disheartened to receive an appeal about the same issue from ARAN last week. ARAN has called for all greyhound advocates to press the Irish Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney, to act swiftly to ensure legislation is brought in that makes it actually illegal to transport any more greyhounds to China.

Three greyhounds registered with the Irish Greyhound Board were exported to Hong Kong for onward transportation to the greyhound racetrack in Macau in March.  Then, this month a further 6 Irish greyhounds were exported to China for the Macau track.  Here is a video of the poor hounds in transit https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=psePPAqtgF0&feature=youtu.be

 

Ban the export of Irish greyhounds to China

Ban the export of Irish greyhounds to China

 

This fills the vacuum left by the Australian exports when Qantas and Cathay Pacific refused to carry Australian greyhounds destined to race in Macau and resurrects the attempt from Ireland to export greyhounds to China in 2011/12. At that time the Irish Department of Agriculture prevented racing dog exports to Asian countries because the plan offered by the  Irish Greyhound Board did not provide sufficient assurance that adequate provision would be made to safeguard the health and welfare of greyhounds in China at the end of their racing life. Grey2KUSAWorldwide’s research shows that no greyhound leaves the Macau track alive and there is no adoption programme.
Please take action:

  1. Please email: Ireland’s Agriculture Minister, Simon Coveney (cc Acting Prime Minister, Enda Kenny) urging him to look into the situation of Irish greyhounds being sent to Macau and to ensure legislation comes into force that makes it illegal going forward.Email: Agriculture Minister Simon Coveney, Simon.Coveney@oir.ie and be sure to CC’ in Ireland’s acting Prime Minister, Enda Kenny, taoiseach@taoiseach.gov.ie
  2. Please sign the Grey2KUSA Worldwide petition: https://www.change.org/p/prime-minster-taoiseach-enda-kenny-stop-export-of-irish-greyhounds-to-china
  3. Please tweet the following to Daniel Mulhall, the Irish Ambassador to the UK

Stop the Irish greyhounds being sent to China !!! #racedtodeath @DanMulhall  @IrelandEmbGB

Stop export of Irish greyhounds to China www.greytexploitations.com

Stop export of Irish greyhounds to China www.greytexploitations.com

A charity clean-up and start-up!

i Mar 6th No Comments by

Last week a group of Greyhound Compassion volunteers spent a few days at the Scooby shelter to help the Scooby team.  

The intake of galgos peaks in the first three months of the year as the galgueros discard their galgos at the end of the annual coursing season.  The shelter was full to the brim because an average of 40 galgos a week had been rescued in the first two months of this year.

We set to work on cleaning up in the paddocks and kennels, not to mention the odd cuddle for a rescued puppy along the way and sensitive touch for the nervous galgos pressing themselves into the kennel wall because they couldn’t yet face human interaction.

Rescued galgo basks in the winter sun

Rescued galgo basks in the winter sun

 

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Ruth, helps with the laundry

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Ruth, helps with the laundry

There were the usual piles of laundry of bedding and towels which the Pam and Ruth gradually worked through.  The bedding, coat and towel store had become a jumbled mountain in recent weeks making it impossible for the Scooby workers to find towels and blankets quickly.  We established a human chain gang sorting the mound into accessible piles on the available shelving.

 

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Pam, helps sort the bedding

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Pam, helps sort the bedding

Naturally we fell in love with many of the residents whose appealing eyes became completely

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Olivia, embraces the Scooby rescued galgos

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Olivia, embraces the Scooby rescued galgos

irresistible.  To name just a couple of the many, Amelio was so sweet and endearing and Austin gently welcomed us into his pen each day.  Numerous galgos were seen to be embracing Olivia, one of the volunteers, as she cuddled them in between cleaning.  They were simply hanging from her shoulders and gently nuzzling her ear.

We had a charity first for Medina del Campo where Scooby is located.  Scooby has been given the use of an empty shop for a small rent and one of our volunteers, Ellie, converted it into the town’s first every charity shop. She spent the first few days sorting the existing stock and making space for donated goods sent for sale.  By the end of our stay, the Scooby sign was over the door and the shop had a doggie corner, bric a brac shelves, baskets of goodies for children and a space cleared for donated fashion items.

Sign over the door - Scooby charity shop

Sign over the door – Scooby charity shop

This is a ground-breaking initiative for Medina and we hope it will be a success but we’ll have to wait and see.  If it works, this could be a good source of income for the rescued animals at Scooby.  The first few steps bode well.  Before Ellie left on the last morning, she had a few customers who had come in with their dogs adopted from Scooby, a galgo among them, to do some shopping and promising to spread the word amongst their friends.  Let’s hope they’ll be keen to bag a bargain for a good cause!

Scooby charity shop in progress

Scooby charity shop in progress

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Ellie, sets up Scooby charity shop

Greyhound Compassion volunteer, Ellie, sets up Scooby charity shop

Long-awaited report on greyhound welfare is published

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The highly anticipated Commons Select Committee report on Greyhound Welfare has been published following a five-month inquiry.

The report, produced by the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committe (EFRA), says bookmakers must contribute more and should not “prioritise profit over high welfare standards”.

Neil Parish MP, committee chair, said: “All racing greyhounds should enjoy high welfare standards both during their racing career and retirement. Bookmakers who profit from greyhound racing should contribute to welfare standards regardless of whether the profits are from high-street stores, online or overseas betting.

“The welfare of racing greyhounds shouldn’t be at the whim of bookmakers who can simply choose to contribute or not. The Government should consider introducing a statutory levy or an alternative betting rights model to protect animal welfare.”

Transparent welfare data

EFRA also recommended changes to the 2010 Regulations so that welfare data related to injury, euthanasia and rehoming numbers is recorded and published.

The report finds that the lack of publicly available data on injuries sustained by racing dogs makes it difficult to judge the current level of welfare provision. Legislation introduced in 2010 requires the industry to keep data relating to injury but it is not required to publish it.

So far all records have been closely guarded in spite of clear demand among charities, trainers and veterinarians for greater transparency within the industry. MPs highlight that the lack of transparency sustains the suspicions of critics.

Simon Hart MP said: “Defra should amend the 2010 regulations to make the publication of welfare data mandatory in order to help the industry challenge external criticism, and show that all efforts are being made to avoid preventable deaths.”

Surplus greyhounds

One major concern is the number of healthy dogs potentially being destroyed due to oversupply. This was brought into sharp focus in 2006 when The Sunday Times revealed that healthy greyhounds were being systematically killed and dumped in “canine killing fields”.

During this latest inquiry, MPs found that there is still a significant lack of information concerning the fate of greyhounds surplus to racing requirements. The committee calls for greater transparency about the destiny of racing dogs and that rehoming data is made available.

“We simply do not know what is happening to all greyhounds after they finish racing,” stated Jim Fitzpatrick MP. “If the destruction of healthy dogs is happening on a large scale it is clear that the industry should bear a greater financial responsibility for funding rehomed greyhounds.

“We want to see that all efforts are being made to rehome these animals at the end of their racing lives.”

Kennelling

The committee says that the 2010 Regulations should extend beyond the race track to include trainers’ kennels, which could be independently scrutinised by a suitably authorised body.

The regulations introduced in 2010 have brought the same minimum standards to all racing tracks, but 95% of a dog’s racing life will be spent in private kennels. At the time, it was clear to animal welfare organisations, including Greyhound Compassion, that the Regulations would be ineffectual.

Greyhound Compassion’s view

As part of the government’s five-year review, Greyhound Compassion believes EFRA’s report is a significant milestone on the road to improving greyhound welfare in the UK.

The report states that within the five years since the introduction of the 2010 Regulations, there is little evidence of the industry going further than necessary to drive up welfare standards.

Greyhound Compassion welcomes the commitee’s proposals which push for the need for greater transparency, improved welfare and an extension of responsibility to trainers’ kennels.  It acknowledges the problem of over-supply of greyhounds.  The surplus of greyhounds is not confined to after racing, we know that something also has to be done to protect the “saplings” which don’t make the racing grade.

The report also rightly raises concerns about the financing of higher welfare standards and makes clear the responsibilities of the bookmaking industry, whether they operate on the high street or online.

It remains to be seen whether or not the industry as a whole will implement the committee’s proposals during the recommended two-year probationary period of self-regulation. If self-regulation is to work, all sections of the industry, including bookmakers, must now take responsibility for, and play a shared role in, driving up the welfare of all greyhounds.

We look forward to the next steps.

Progress

i Feb 13th No Comments by

We are making progress even though it’s uphill at times.

You may have seen the pictures on Facebook last weekend of the Spanish people out on the streets with galgos in several cities marching in protest and campaigning for end to hunting with galgos and other breeds.  This is a sea change.  In addition, Scooby rescued 87 dogs last Tuesday and 60 were galgos.  It is so much better that the dogs can come into Scooby rather than meet a cruel end in the hands of the hunters.

Scooby Galgos (photo courtesy of http://www.madaboutgreys.com)

Scooby Galgos (photo courtesy of http://www.madaboutgreys.com)

The racing industry here continues its demise, although not yet dead. Coventry flapping track has closed.  Ladbroke and Coral are merging and monopoly rules mean they will have to sell at least one track.  Unlikely that this will remain a going concern as a racetrack.  Hall Green track is also being sold and  will go to building. PLUS!  The trainers are complaining about the Greyhound Board of Great Britain and are calling for a forensic accountant to go over their books.  They were demonstrating the week before last outside the GBGB HQ in London calling for improved greyhound welfare, better procurement practices and an investigation of their accounting.  Here is the video of the demo.  It does contain some strong, inappropriate language (from one of the GBGB Directors and the Chairman of the Racecourse Promoters). https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1wH-6LVzpGA&feature=youtu.be&oref=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D1wH-6LVzpGA%26feature%3Dyoutu.be&has_verified=1

Select Committee Debates Welfare of Racing Greyhounds

Select Committee Debates Welfare of Racing Greyhounds

We await the outcome of the EFRA Select Committee into the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations.  This should be in April/May.

In Ireland, the Irish Greyhound Board seems to be carrying out more thorough doping tests.  This week a champion greyhound trainer’s greyhound has tested positive and we wait to see the outcome of that investigation.

So it’s not over until the fat lady sings but she’s tuning up!  Thanks to all of our supporters for your help.  The financial donations we have been able to make to our shelters have given them more of a voice as well as rehoming their rescued dogs.

Freya, our sponsored dog

Freya, our sponsored dog

 

Spaniards Out In Force Against Hunting With Galgos And Other Breeds Of Dog

i Feb 7th No Comments by

Today marked an amazing turning point in animal welfare in Spain. Thousands of people marched in cities throughout Spain to call for a ban on hunting with galgos and other breeds of dog.

The power of public opinion about hunting with galgos was very visible in many cities in Spain today. Thousands of people took to the streets in cities across the country. They marched with their galgos and other dogs through Barcelona, Madrid, Seville and Malaga to name but a few, calling for a ban on hunting with galgos and other breeds.

Salamanca Protest Against Hunting with Galgos

Salamanca Protest Against Hunting with Galgos

 

There was a time about 20 years ago when we wanted to do a Meet & Greet with the Scooby galgos in the main square in Medina del Campo but such was the opposition and the threat to their safety that we could not attempt it. The dogs were considered vermin by the locals and often chased away because they were considered the lowest of the low. Imagine our pleasure today to see hundreds of these noble galgos out on the streets leading the demand for a ban to hunting with dogs.

Rocio Protesting Against Hunting with Galgos

Rocio Protesting Against Hunting with Galgos

 

Fermin of Scooby organised the demonstration in Salamanca and took 6 hunting dogs rescued by the Scooby shelter with him. He was accompanied by Rocio, a galgo (one of our galgos available for sponsorship) a podenco, a pointer and a bracco.

 

Salamanca Protest Against Hunting with Galgos

Salamanca Protest Against Hunting with Galgos

This strength of feeling must have made an impression with the Spanish authorities. This has to be the beginning of the end.

 

Galgos in Madrid March Against Hunting

Galgos in Madrid March Against Hunting

The Next Few Weeks Are Crucial – The Greyhounds Need Your Help!

i Nov 22nd No Comments by

Two critical initiatives are live right now and Greyhound Compassion supporters have a role to play in one of them before the end of the year…..

DEFRA is conducting a five year review of the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations (introduced in 2010). We are encouraging our supporters to respond to its public consultation before the deadline of 31 December 2015. The League Against Cruel Sports has published an excellent factsheet which will help you complete the consultation questions.

Whilst we believe that greyhound racing has no place in a modern society, the Government has stated clearly that it does not consider greyhound racing to be cruel and it will not countenance a ban. We must therefore lobby for significant welfare improvements to safeguard the greyhounds. Please do participate in the Government’s consultation before the end of the year.

Select Committee Debates Welfare of Racing Greyhounds

Select Committee Debates Welfare of Racing Greyhounds

 

In parallel the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (EFRA) Committee has established a sub-committee to conduct a short inquiry into the welfare of racing greyhounds. This is a Commons Select Committee. The first hearing with animal welfare charities will take place this coming Tuesday in Westminster.

 

 

 

Blanca

Blanca – now in safe hands

The sub-committee called for written evidence in the autumn. We were asked to focus on the following in our submissions:

  • the appropriateness of the current regulations;
  • whether or not the current regulatory framework is consistently applied to licensed and flapping tracks;
  • welfare of greyhounds with reference to breeding, kennelling, transporting, racing and euthanasia;
  • transparency of data about racing greyhounds, injuries, doping, rehoming, destruction, breeding and imports;
  • successful examples of self-regulation and welfare protection;
  • whether or not the racing industry and bookmakers contribute sufficiently to welfare; and
  • whether or not any lessons can be learned from horse racing.
Blue Linda Rescued From Racing

Blue Linda Rescued From Racing

 

You can view all of the submissions to the inquiry, including Greyhound Compassion’s here.

The sub-committee’s findings will be reported to the EFRA Committee and will contribute to the DEFRA consultation.

We were so disappointed when the Welfare of Racing Greyhounds Regulations were introduced in 2010.  It was evident then that they would be ineffectual. We’ve waited for this second chance to see some change for the racing greyhounds.  Please do complete the consultation.  This is a unique opportunity.

Greyhound Compassion Launches Sponsor A Hound Scheme

i Nov 15th No Comments by

We have decided to launch a Sponsor A Hound Scheme to raise some funds for a five of greyhounds and galgos because they cannot be re-homed and will need special care or on-going medical treatment.

Laura and Rocio are Spanish galgos living at Scooby, Medina.  Freya, Pandora and Apollo are greyhounds in the shelter in Lincolnshire.

If you are stuck for what to buy for your friends and family for Christmas, why not sponsor Rocio, Apollo, Freya, Laura or Pandora for them? They are all loving and deserving dogs. Rocio and Laura sadly suffer from the parasitical disease Leishmaniasis, Freya is too frightened to settle in a home and is dearly loved by her carers in the rescue, Pandora and Apollo are the best of mates, both big and strong and don’t want to be separated.

Greyhound Compassion Sponsor A Hound - Rocio

Refined – Rocio

Rocio shares the sofa with Laura in the conservatory cum sun lounge of the Scooby manager’s bungalow at the shelter. Rocio was very frightened and fragile when rescued. She is quite slight and was very skinny when she first came to Scooby.  Like Laura, Rocio has Leishmaniasis but her blood tests are good. Both Laura and Rocio have become the manager’s shadow.

Greyhound Compassion Sponsor A Hound - Laura

Lovable Laura

 

Laura is an elderly lady who was rescued from a galgo collector in 2007. She lives in comfort at the Scooby shelter in the manager’s bungalow. She sadly suffers from Leishmaniasis nowadays and has lost the sight in one eye. But this does not stop her competing for the sofa with Rocio!

 

 

Greyhound Compassion Sponsor A Hound - Freya

Shy Freya

Freya was rescued from greyhound racing in the UK.  She suffered a terrible trauma which means she cannot be rehomed from the Lincolnshire shelter.  She now lives a life of luxury and has come to trust her carers at the shelter.  She plays happily with them but cannot face the rest of the world.

 

 

 

Pandora is a lovely girl who has been in rescue for a few years.  She is extremely strong.  Pandora is

Greyhound Compassion Sponsor A Hound - Pandora

Pretty Pandora

a pretty girl who enjoys her food but likes a kiss on the head before eating!  If you forget to kiss her, then you will find she forgets to eat!  She needs someone very experienced to take on such a strong girl.  She feels safe in the kennels and needs to be rehomed with her kennel mate, Apollo, who is even bigger.  It is taking some finding but it would be too much for both of them to split them up.

 

 

Apollo is a blue and white brindle. He came into rescue with Pandora and he is very sweet and loving, though very strong to walk. Again, he also loves his food but Apollo being a boy is swayed by treats. Even though he is such a big lad he relies on Pandora. They have their own beds but often share one!  He loves a cuddle!

Greyhound Compassion Sponsor A Hound - Apollo

Affectionate Apollo

 

You can sponsor one of them for just £2 per month or an annual payment of £24. You or the recipient of your gift adoption will receive a certificate an annual update on their progress, plus a couple of little surprises during the year.

Scooby Food Appeal: The cost of dog food is a bottomless pit

i Nov 15th No Comments by

We often mention the work of Scooby’s vets and the associated costs which are necessary for the care of all of the animals in the shelter.  But now, we’re appealing to you in case you can help with the food costs for the galgos.

Scooby is sometimes lucky enough to benefit from generous donations of dried or tinned food but unfortunately this is not enough to meet all of the shelter’s needs.  This is why they regularly have to order vans full (tonnes!) of food – usually dried food.

Even considering that a very small part of the order is not always invoiced either because the sack is damaged or the ‘use by’ date is approaching, the due date for the rest of the invoice always arrives…too quickly!

And Scooby’s cashflow means that  they cannot always pay the food bills as punctually as they would like.  This has been the case recently and explains why the shelter’s debt to the food supplier has been increasing and now stands at more than €11,000.  This amount is for all of the dogs and cats in the shelter, not just the galgos and it is for the first 6 months of the year. Dog food costs for the galgos amounts to about €6,600 for Jan – June 2015.

Greyhound Compassion Table Top Sale in aid of Scooby Food Appeal

Greyhound Compassion Table Top Sale in aid of Scooby Food Appeal

Greyhound Compassion’s was lucky enough to receive a donation of £1,000 earlier this month from a UK shelter which is closing down.  Plus our October jumble sale as well as our table at the Vintage & Retro Table Top Sale raised £520.  We will pass this combined donation on to Scooby to go towards the food bill.   Obviously Scooby would like to pay this debt as quickly as possible, so if you can donate even a small amount towards the bill, we’d be very grateful.

Thank you in advance for your help.

 

Scooby Rescued Galgos

Scooby Rescued Galgos

Violet – the Poster Girl for the Injured Greyhounds

i Oct 2nd No Comments by

Violet was rescued from greyhound racing at the age of 2.5 years with an unhealed broken nose and 62 races behind her.  Now she promotes greyhounds as fantastic pets and companion animals.  See how she is working for the less fortunate….

Violet is a hard working greyhound.  Marilyn Roberts adopted Violet when her niece spotted that she was available for adoption.  Marilyn is a dedicated and industrious fund-raising volunteer for Greyhound Compassion.  Violet plays a key role in this work close to their home in Shropshire.  Violet goes to every fund-raising stall and Meet & Greet.  She is the poster girl for rescued and injured greyhounds.  A couple of months ago while Marilyn and her husband were walking Violet and their other dogs, a man in a car stopped and shouted across the road to Marilyn’s husband, “I’ve got a Greyhound too, what fabulous pets they make, I love them”,  then he saw Marilyn following a little bit behind with Violet and said, “I know who you are now, I remember Violet, I chatted with you at a fundraiser and was so impressed that we went and adopted our greyhound 2 weeks later”. People never forget Violet. She has a character just like ‘Calamity Jane’ and is an absolute clown. Violet has done so much for greyhounds and has helped quite a few get their forever homes.

Violet & two young volunteers for Greyhound Compassion

Violet & two young volunteers for Greyhound Compassion

Violet is so special because she has a deformed nose which resulted from a break left to heal without veterinary intervention.  It seems that when she was a baby in the training kennels, she got her nose shut in one of the kennel doors and this broke her nose.  Violet was raced with the neglected injury. Marilyn adopted Violet when she was just over 2.5 years old so she had not been racing for too long but had 62 races in her short career.  When Violet is out on the streets and at events promoting the plight of the racing greyhound, people can see firsthand how injuries are dealt with.

Violet - dog tired after a Greyhound Compassion fund-raiser

Violet – dog tired after a Greyhound Compassion fund-raiser

Violet lives with Marilyn, her husband and their four other greyhounds.  One of them, Jessie, was rescued from a terrible greyhound breeding facility, now closed thankfully.  She was so injured that she had a terrible job just to sit down.  She was “retired” at 2.5 years old and research into her background showed that she had been officially recorded as “deceased”.  Marilyn rehabilitated Jessie so that she settled well into her home.  She had to have an eye removed last November due to cancer and has been on treatment for chronic arthritis for the past 12 months and she reached 12 years old this month. Laura is also part of the gang.  She raced in Scotland.  She was quite traumatised and has an ongoing eye problem. Zeus also lives with the crew and he has been a calming influence on Miguel who was the wild child galgo!

Violet - works hard for Greyhound Compassion

Violet – works hard for Greyhound Compassion

Every day Marilyn looks at Violet and silently thanks God for letting her share Violet’s life.  Marilyn is so privileged to be her guardian and to think she adopted her because no one else wanted her.

It’s Heartwarming to See Signs of Progress

i Aug 16th No Comments by

“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” – Mahatma Gandhi

I first visited Scooby in 2000 and justified my trip because it was to help the shelter with its rescued dogs and cats. I had always vowed that I would never travel to Spain because of the attitude towards animals there. Bullfighting is abhorrent, the donkeys are poorly treated, the pony carousels were cruel and companion animals were routinely not considered part of the family. Even though I now  realise that the Brits don’t have too much to be proud of when it comes to animal welfare, puppy and factory farming.

On that first trip a Gordon Setter ran out onto the motorway in front me as I was driving the hired car out of Madrid airport. On the approach to Medina del Campo I came across a dead female dog and her pup in the middle of the road. They were the victims of a road traffic accident, somehow curled up together at peace now but nobody had cared for them.

Scooby Rescued Galgos

Scooby Rescued Galgos

The shelter at the time was housing hundreds of galgos, some German Shepherds, Labradors, Mastins, Huskies (the fashionable breed at the time) and many mixed breeds in two ruined buildings courtesy of the council. Neither buildings had running water or electricity. The water had to be drawn from a well using a traffic cone on the days it was not delivered by the water company. Amelia, in her late fifties, walked with two friends every day from the town centre (about 2 miles away) to feed the dogs. One of the buildings was so dilapidated that as more masonry fell in, the council offered the 3 volunteers, hard hats to protect them. The council gave no thought to the protection of the stray animals being kept off of their streets.

As we researched the plight of the galgo in more detail, we found the evidence of the depth of the cruelty. The galgos were being hanged in their hundreds in the surrounding pine groves, once they were no longer useful to the galgueros. We know this because we’ve seen it with our own eyes. If not hanged, they were left to run in the streets or were thrown down the very deep dry wells which punctuate the Spanish countryside. Many Greyhound Compassion volunteers visiting the shelter have spent an evening or early morning trying to catch nervous galgos roaming the streets. The problem was that they were always so agile and fast that it was virtually impossible to get close. One particular morning we were having a coffee in the hotel before setting off for the shelter and through the window saw a loose galgo running along the road outside. All 6 of us slammed down our coffees and ran outside to try to catch him. The locals in the hotel thought we were bonkers and those outside doing their shopping or smoking a cigarette in the town square did nothing to help. I couldn’t believe how they ignored our pleas for help in broken Spanish. At home it would have been different. Everyone nearby would have helped us and the local newspaper might have turned up. It was clear they thought we were the crazy foreigners pursuing an idealistic waste of time!

Scooby Entrance

Scooby Entrance

We talked about holding a “Meet & Greet” in the town square to show the world what a wonderful dogs galgos are and how they make the perfect pets. We even started to put a photo board together to illustrate our point. At that stage we only knew of a couple of galgos living in family homes (one in the UK and one in the US) but that didn’t matter because we used pictures of pet greyhounds to convey the same message! It turns out we were 10 years too early! Fermin told us that there was no way we could do this. Galgos were the lowest of the low and considered vermin by the Spanish. Now everything fell into place. This explained why when a fellow Dutch volunteer walked into a local restaurant in Medina del Campo with his two galgos (apparently possible on the Continent but not yet allowed in the UK!) the room went quiet and the atmosphere became hostile.

So we spent the intervening years visiting the Scooby shelter with many volunteers who helped Scooby move to new premises and convert it to today’s purpose built refuge with running water, electricity and an on-site clinic. We continued to pick up the stray galgos and stash them in our hired car before taking them to safety. We found one poor galgo wandering in a vast field after the harvest, obviously forgotten by her galguero and left in the middle of the countryside, and took her on the backseat of our car back to the shelter. We had to hide her under my coat because it’s illegal in Spain to carry a dog on the backseat of the car. Dogs have to be transported in the boot. Many a galgo has turned up at the shelter in the boot of a saloon car.

The development of the Scooby shelter has been achieved on a shoestring budget and relied heavily on donations. The hangings have virtually come to an end but Scooby is still rescuing neglected galgos from near death and still with next to no money. It is an organisation which punches way above its weight and needs financial support to keep going. Unfortunately the perception of Scooby is that it is a large-scale rescue centre with the resources to match. This is not the case. Sometimes it doesn’t make ends meet and some months it only just breaks even. This is a shelter in dire need of financial support if its future is to replicate the past.

Scooby Building Site

Scooby Building Site

About five years ago, we started to see one or two more locals volunteering at the shelter and offering practical help. Until this point, there had been a team of about 3 reliable people keeping the refuge going. At this point Fermin told me that he would start doing some street stalls. The time had come. I was astounded at one event to hear a group of pre-teen girls stroll past commenting excitedly at the pictures of the galgos in the same way young kids here react to cute animal pictures.

Scooby Galgos at Renaissance Fair

Scooby Galgos at Renaissance Fair in Medina del Campo

The biggest stride forward, in my opinion, was this year’s Renaissance Fair. When Scooby’s stand, complete with several galgos, was such a roaring success. It had pride of place in the very town square in which we wanted to hold our “Meet & Greet”. The stall was surrounded by people and children cuddling the galgos. These must be the children and grand-children of those very people who couldn’t bring themselves to help us chase after the odd stray all those years ago. So education does work after all! It is this generation who can help Scooby spread the word and bring about even more change. Scooby continues to be a voice for the animals. Hopefully, the kids in the photo also represent the next generation of local volunteers and fund-raisers because Scooby can’t do it without them.