Life at the Scooby shelter in Spain

A galgo dumped in a bin, another hit by a car. Lucinda shares her recent experience of volunteering at the Scooby animal rescue centre in central Spain…

Yet another abandoned galgo is brought into the rescue centre.

Yet another abandoned galgo is brought into the rescue centre.

I arrived thinking I’d help with cleaning, feeding and administering medication. Now that the coursing season has ended, I imagined there would be a few galgos coming in every day. But I was wrong. Galgos were being saved by the hour, every day!

Within the first two hours of my arrival, Cobie, the shelter’s founder, brought in a black galgo with poor mobility in her hips. Cobie saved the galgo from euthanasia in the pound.

On her way home, Cobie found a blue galgo who’d been hit by a car. The vet tried to repair his leg but the veins were so damaged that, at the time of writing, amputation looked inevitable.

A few hours later, a Spanish lady arrived with a black galgo who’d been picked up on the street by her neighbour. She told us that her neighbour had offered it to her to rehome, as she already owned three other rescue dogs, including a galgo. But her husband had put his foot down and said three was enough.

We all suspected the woman was the wife of a galguero (galgo courser).  It’s very rare for a Spanish family to have a galgo as a pet. But, as the conversation unfolded, and as she said goodbye to the galgo, it was clear she was not from the coursing community.

Are extreme cases of cruelty changing minds?

Live bait: Aura, rescued from a skip where she had been disposed of

Live bait: Aura, rescued from a skip where she had been disposed of.

This woman’s act of kindness is one small example of how the animal welfare tide is turning in the region.

Still within hours of arrival, we heard that a four-month-old galgo had been left for dead in a municipal rubbish bin in Salamanca.

Aura, as she was later named, had likely been used as bait in a dog fighting ring and thrown into the skip when her injuries became too much.

Again, Scooby rescued her and took her to one of their vets in Salamanca. He worked hard day and night to save her. The story of Aura’s rescue went viral. It was published so widely in the local press and on social media that the Scooby office was fielding a constant stream of enquiries about Aura’s progress. There was even an offer of a foster home.

This has never happened before.

Aura held on for five days before dying. Writing on their blog, Scooby’s Christiane wrote:

The loss of Aura has left an enormous hole but we cannot let it get us down, we have so many more animals to fight for, this doesn’t stop here.

In the past, Aura’s case would have passed unnoticed by those outside Scooby. The police have since said they will investigate Aura’s death. We wait to see the outcome.

Scooby’s publicity and countless rescues like Aura’s are influencing the public’s response to animal welfare. Whilst this is fantastic, it’s inevitably placing greater demand on Scooby’s already stretched resources and facilities.

Save galgos – donate


Irish/galgo crosses – it’s happening

The other striking observation during our visit was the number of galgo/Irish greyhound crosses coming into the shelter.

The blue galgo with the broken leg was the first we saw. The blue colour is not usually associated with galgos, it is usually the colour of a greyhound.

We’ve long suspected that the greyhounds bought in Ireland for straight racing in southern Spain are being bred with galgos.

We came across several during our week at Scooby – dogs with heads that are typical of greyhounds but on a galgo frame, with the colouring of Irish greyhounds.

We talked to the shelter manager and he said that certainly the galgos coming into Scooby from the south (where straight racing takes place) have more greyhound features than the build of a pure galgo.

Thousands of galgos are still being bred – now with Irish greyhounds – to ‘produce’ the few that will win races. Despite the fact that more people are showing an interest in animal welfare issues, there’s still a huge amount of work to be done.

Victims of their own success

Rescued galgos rest up, safe and warm

Rescued galgos rest up, safe and warm.

My time at the shelter was mostly heart-wrenching. I was struck by how much work Scooby has done to raise awareness about the value of animal welfare in its region and beyond. It’s a huge achievement.

Scooby’s volunteers are fantastic at sharing the shelter’s work with the public. As a result, they are punching above their weight. Their publicity results in an even greater public demand to react more quickly and rescue even more animals as local people identify animals at risk.

Again, this places pressure on the small team working at the shelter, its facilities and its financial and veterinary resources. In this situation, funding and finances become a serious issue.

The shelter achieves so much with so little. Every penny is put to good use.

Greyhound Compassion is proud to support Scooby and is able to do so thanks to the genorosity of its members and volunteers.

Please support Scooby’s vital work. Make a donation below or via Scooby’s website.

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