We timed our visit at the end of February to coincide with the deluge of abandoned galgos at the end of the hare coursing season – a time when Protectora y Santuario Scooby has few volunteers and much work. We were not disappointed. There were easily 350 – 400 galgos in the shelter, all had been dumped and rescued as the hunting championships closed in January.
We did the usual feeding and cleaning duties to help the small Scooby team.
Our visit not only coincided with an influx of galgos but also with the arrival of about 15 Dutch vets and vet nurses, all led by Patty and Judith who provide pro bono veterinary care to the Scooby dogs for one week each year. This meant we had to keep a constant flow of dogs going into the on-site clinic so that Patty and Judith’s team could spay and castrate as many dogs as possible. On their first day of the 7 day visit, they operated on 37 dogs. At this rate, they would handle about 250 dogs, no mean feat and very welcome!
Even though every volunteer trip is rewarding, they are never without adversity or heartache and shortly after arriving we faced sadness. As we took the bus from the train station into the town centre, we spotted a loose female galgo in a field alongside the road. We took the shelter manager back to the spot as soon as we arrived at the shelter. We observed the galgo from a distance and realised she was going into and out of a ramshackle building on private land. The manager got close to the building and could peer inside. He spotted a male galgo and puppies – they were obviously a family. He could hear other dogs in the building. Yet there was nobody on-site taking care of the dogs. We were powerless on private land but called the police and they said they would check out the situation. After asking around about an hour later, we discovered we had been on the land of a big time, aggressive galguero and were told that if we wanted to live in peace, we should never darken his doorstep again. The poor galgos and other dogs on the premises had to be left in the galguero’s hands. No doubt they will end up at Scooby later, we could only hope and pray that they do not suffer too much in the meantime.
We also heard about another female galgo loose in the surrounding countryside and that a kind lady was feeding her. Still the galgo had to be caught but the Scooby humane dog trap had broken. However, all was not lost because we while were at the shelter we learned with much gratitude that Scooby’s application for new trap from SNIP International had been successful. As we write, it is being shipped to the shelter, so fingers crossed the stray galgo will soon be safe.
To top it all we discovered that the Protectora y Santuario Scooby charity shop which the Scooby team is trying to establish was broken into during the second night of our visit and some cash was stolen from the till. It never rains but it pours!
There were many highlights with so many beautiful dogs and sweet puppies in Scooby’s care. A particular high point was that our trip preceded a transport of about 25 galgos to homes in Belgium, Germany and Holland. It was very heartwarming to see them being prepared for their road trip to loving homes. They were all residing in quarantine and on our last day, the shelter managers were busy finalising the passports and transportation papers.