For the first time in history more than 150 animal welfare organizations have joined forces to fight the amendment of the PSOE which intends to exclude hunting dogs from the first Spanish Animal Welfare Law, currently being debated in the Parliament.
Spain is known, among other wonderful things, for various traditions of unparalleled animal abuse, such as bullfighting. However, in Spain, there is one kind of animal that suffers and is killed in much greater numbers: animals used for hunting, mainly greyhounds and hounds.
In the absence of official data, reports such as that of the Affinity Foundation estimate that 183,000 dogs are rescued from abandonment every year in Spain. Hunting is the second cause of abandonment, after unwanted litters, according to the report.
But, why does hunting (almost always) result in abandonment in Spain?
Hunting with greyhounds consists of the release of several greyhounds who chase a hare in the countryside. The activity is currently considered as a sport under the national legislation. What could be seen as inoffensive, and even fun for those dogs, have serious impacts:
- Mass breeding, abandonment and culling of unwanted specimens – greyhounds used for hunting reach the optimum shape between 2 and 4 years. If, before, that, or after that, they are not useful for that purpose, ‘galgueros’ (as in Spain hunters with greyhounds are known) discard them by abandoning them or killing them. Furthermore, massive breeding usually means deplorable living conditions, confinement, tied up, unsanity, with lack of veterinary care.
- Abusive and dangerous training methods: as a common practice, hunters use “motorized” training to train greyhounds. This means dogs are tied up to motor vehicles (despite being forbidden in many regions) and forced to run until the vehicle decides to stop, resulting in injuries, exhaustion and psychological consequences.
These are only some of the direct impact to the animals, but, apart from those impacts, we can mention the business of buying and selling dogs, which is the basis of the perpetuation of those practises, and the exposure of children to the mistreatment of dogs in Spain, which leads to a normalization of such actions and a disrespectful relationship with all kind of animals.
2020 was a ray of hope for animals in Spain: a General Directorate for Animal Welfare was established for the first time in Spain’s history, and seen as a hope for millions aiming for better protection for animals in the country.
Since 2021 the GDAW has been drafting the text of a National Animal Welfare Law which was submitted to the Parliament, for processing, in August 2022. The proposal for a Law has been applauded by many animal welfare organizations involved in rescuing and improving the plight of greyhounds in Spain, in an agreement that long term positive and enforceable changes can only be achieved with a solid legal foundation.
Despite the fact that the initial text contemplated the equality of all dogs, and included hunting dogs and other dogs used for work, the PSOE, one of the two parties of the government coalition, has given in to pressure from the hunting lobby, and announced in early September that it was going to register an amendment to exclude hunting dogs from the animal welfare law. This exclusion will also affect herding dogs, rescue dogs, livestock dogs, etc. To sum up, the same dog, used for hunting, will not have the same rights as if that dog lived as a pet in a home.
There are no biological reasons (AVATMA, an organization formed by more than 600 veterinarians in Spain has also asked the government to withdraw the amendment) or any other reasons derived from the legal framework of Spain that justify the exclusion of hunting dogs from this law. This amendment responds to the pressure of the hunting lobby that aims to remove protection for hunting dogs.
Many jurists, animal welfare experts, and hundreds of organizations agree that, if approved with this amendment, the law will not only not improve animal protection in Spain, but will be a setback of decades. Even the Intergroup of Animal Welfare of the European Parliament has raised their concern in a video where Anja Hazenkamp, MEP, on behalf of the Intergroup, urges the PSOE to withdraw this amendment, and include all dogs in the law, as per requested in the letter sent in 2021. Parliamentary question also raised in the European Parliament in March 2022.
News* regarding the amendment and internal debate have resulted in protests and demonstrations. For the last four weeks, all these organizations have been publicly running a campaign against this amendment, currently being debated in the Spanish parliament. Among the actions which are currently underway are: public demonstrations (in front of PSOE’s headquarters in Madrid and local offices in Seville, Valencia and Barcelona); tweetstorm using the hashtag #mismosperrosmismaley (#samedogssamelaw in English), silkscreened bus in Madrid, with a picture of a hanged greyhound, the face of the president of Spain, the red color of its political party (PSOE) and the message: ‘No to the exclusion of hunting dogs from the animal welfare law’.
Several celebrities in Spain have joined and supported the public media campaign, including actors like Fernando Tejero, Ana Polvorosa, Monica Cruz, Itziar Ituño (La Casa de Papel), Eva Isanta, Alex O’Dogherty, Dani Rovira and Beatriz Rico; journalists and TV presenters like Susana Griso, Wyoming, Sonia Ferrer, Sandra Golpe, Jorge Fernández, Laura Ferrer or Iñaki Lopez;, musicians like Hombres G, Los Chicos del maíz and Conchita, and writers like Pilar Eyre or Rosa Montero.
The debate on this partial amendment will occur in the next few weeks, so if there is any chance of changing the lives of thousands of greyhounds forever, that is now, and we need your support to make their voices heard.
Effective ways to help us:
- If you are in Madrid, Sevilla, Barcelona or Valencia, join the demonstrations. If you live in any other city and want to hold a demonstration, contact us for the materials.
- Share this information.
- Contact any media you might know and share the information with them.
- Use the hashtag #mismosperrosmismaley to show your disagreement and tag @PSOE and @Sanchezcastejon on Instagram and twitter.
Thank you so much for your support and generosity spending your time to join us in this cause.
*Links to media coverage (most of them in Spanish)
- PSOE amends proposal of animal welfare law: Euronews, Spainnews, Spanishnewstoday, El Pais, Eldiario, Newtral, El mundo.
- Coverage on the Bus in Madrid – LaVanguardia, Mallorca Diario, Columnacero.
- Coverage on demonstration in front of PSOE’s building in Madrid and in front of the Parliament – La Vanguardia, EuropaPress, ServiMedia, LaVanguardia, Infolibre, Lanzadigital, Tribuna de Salamanca, Servimedia, EFE verde, EuropaPress, El Periodico.