About the project
The Spanish Galgo is one of the most abused dogs on the planet
Save the Galgo is a collection we made to help spread awareness about the hundred thousands of forgotten Spanish Galgos. 20 % of the price of each item sold is donated to Galgos del Sol, a non-profit dog shelter in Murcia, Spain.
Scroll down to read more about Galgos del Sol and their rescue work.
The Spanish Galgo is a breed that is often described as loyal, kind and affectionate. Because of the traditions in Spain, many of these dogs suffer. By some, they’re not seen as lovable pets, but as disposable objects.
Galgos are widely used by hunters in the rural areas of Spain, both for hunting and hare coursing with betting. These hunters, known as Galgueros, over-breed the Galgos in search for a champion. One Galguero can own as many as 10-30 Galgos each, and they are often brought up in barbaric conditions.
According to the organisations we have spoken to, the Galgos that suffer the most are kept in captivity, they’re malnourished and fed just enough to keep them alive. When the dogs are trained for speed some owners will tie the dogs to the back of their car and have them run behind while they drive. If a dog falls down or gets injured, too bad.
When hunting season is over, or when the dogs are not living up to the Galguero’s expectations, they’re abandoned. They’re left to die and forced to try and survive life on the street. Many are tortured and thrown into wells where they’re left to starve to death.
This has to stop!
GALGOS DEL SOL
Galgos del Sol is a non-profit dog shelter that rescues, rehabilitates and rehomes Galgos in need. They also educate the public - mostly children - about Galgos in efforts of changing their views on the breed.
Tina Solera, founder and president of Galgos del Sol, moved to Spain with her family in 2007 in search of warmer weather and immediately encountered the thousands of abandoned Galgos in the streets. Being an animal lover at heart she couldn’t stand the treatment of the Spanish Galgos and decided to devote her time to their rescue, rehabilitation and rehoming.
The Galgos that Tina and her team are rescuing are in horrible conditions when they arrive at the shelter. Starved, full of diseases, traumatized, and hurt. Galgos are found howling from the bottom of wells where they were purposely thrown in by their Galguero. Many are found caught in snare traps where they can be stuck for a long time, often until the only way out is to eat their own leg.
We sat down with Tina, founder of Galgos del Sol, and asked her some questions about their work and the Galgo situation in Spain:
What does the rescue process look like?
Usually someone calls us and gives us the location of an abandoned Galgo. We go about the rescue differently depending on how long the Galgo has been on the streets, every situation is unique. Normally we start by getting the dog into a routine. If the dog has already been in the streets for a few days it’s usually easier to catch them. But if it’s a new dog we need to spend some more time putting food down and getting them into a routine before we can catch it. This can take anything from three days up to months and months. Even years.
How many dogs do you take in each year?
We take in about 350 Galgos per year, about 250-270 are rehomed. This year it’s been harder to rehome because of Covid. We haven’t been able to transport the dogs to their new homes.
When is peak time for abandoned dogs?
There are abandoned dogs on the streets all year round. But the peak is definitely in February, that’s the end of hunting season. That’s when the Galgueros don’t need the dogs anymore, and normally they get rid of all of them so they don’t need to care for them until the next hunting season, which starts in October. They might keep a few, if they’re good hunters. Summer is the peak time for mom and pups on the streets.
How is life on the streets for the abandoned Galgos?
It’s not a nice life.. Most dogs find a way to survive, but eventually they will die of disease if they’re not rescued. And that is the most horrendous death. It’s a painful, miserable, long, slow death.
Which countries do you normally adopt these Galgos to?
America and the UK are our biggest adoption markets. But we also adopt to Belgium, Denmark, Spain and Sweden. We just started in Sweden, and we’d love to do more there.
What happens to the Galgos who don’t find a home?
They come to live with me. I have about fifteen Galgos at my house right now. They’re still up for adoption though, even if they live with me. We never give up on trying to find new loving homes for these Galgos.
What are the Galgos like as pets?
In the beginning they can be really frightened since they’re traumatized and haven’t really had any social interaction with humans. When they do come around though, they are really goofy, silly and loving. I call happy Galgos little clowns, because they truly are. They’re calm, noble and truly amazing companions. They don’t need as much exercise as people think they do, but they do like to activate their brains and enjoy running in a fenced area.
Can anyone adopt?
Yes, absolutely. But they can’t adopt any Galgo they want. Each Galgo is unique and we always try to match them to the best possible home where they will live a happy life. In particular, first time adopters can’t take any Galgo. They need a Galgo that’s already very confident and social.
Galgos are dogs that are used to being in a large group of other dogs. For that reason some rescues might need to be rehomed into a family that already has a dog (doesn’t need to be a Galgo) to feel the most comfortable.
Do you have a sunshine rescue story?
My sunshine stories are when we can find loving homes for Galgos with Leishmania (disease). They’re very hard to rehome and usually they’re at the shelter for 2-3 years.
What is Leishmania?
Leishmania is a meditirranian disease, it’s a blood parasite that most often leads to kidney failure if not treated. It’s a common disease amongst the Galgos we rescue. There is treatment for this disease, and the dogs can live a perfectly normal life with it. It can not be transferred from the dogs to humans.
It’s difficult because we prefer not to send the dogs abroad if they are diagnosed with Leishmania. Not all veterinarians in other countries know how to treat it. So that’s why we want them to stay in Spain. We actually offer to cover all veterinary costs when we rehome dogs with Leishmania in Spain, because that’s normally the reason for why people don’t want to adopt these dogs.
There’s no reason for Leishmania to be a death sentence, with the right treatment these dog’s can live a very happy life despite this diagnosis.
How do you foresee the future for Galgos?
Honestly.. until the Spanish government takes a real stand and enforces some kind of change I don’t see much changing for the Galgos. The welfare laws are there, Galgos are covered by the same laws as other dogs. If you’re caught torturing your Galgo you can be sent to prison. Galgos del Sol actually have won court cases against Galgueros. We have two solicitors working with us that specialises in animal cruelty. So the welfare laws are there, but it’s really hard to enforce them because the Galgueros work in secret. 95 % of the dogs we bring into the shelter don’t have microchips, which means we can’t prove who the owner is.
The hunting federation is very strong and powerful. Many children that visit Galgos del Sol for our educational program wear Galguero t-shirts because their fathers are hunters, so there’s only so much we can do. They’re still probably gonna go home and follow the traditions of their fathers. These traditions are so deeply rooted in their culture, but we are working hard on trying to change them. The kids love coming to the shelter, and it makes them really upset to see these abandoned Galgos. So it’s a start.
In an effort to shed some more light on the Spanish Galgo’s terrible fate we’d like to present a documentary called Yo Galgo. Want to learn more about Galgo's situation? Watch it now!
Yo Galgo is a documentary that uncovers the divide between animal rights and the traditions of a nation. It’s a story about a filmmaker, Yeray Lopez Portillo, setting out on a journey to investigate the miserable fate of the Spanish Galgo.
Yeray, originally from Spain, describes his country as always having had a tough relationship with animals. Folklore, festivities and rituals use animals for entertainment and to celebrate certain dates, and this has been backed up by the Spanish government. Bullfighting is a well-known example, but there are many other animals that suffer in silence from these so-called sports and traditions. The Galgo is one.
The Galgo has been in many tales and myths, it’s been by the side of kings and queens, a very special dog that only people of noble birth could have. But that’s not the case today, quite the opposite actually. Now, they’re used for the hunting season, and each year they’re killed in the thousands. Around 50 000 to 100 000 Galgos are killed, tortured and abandoned during each hunting season in Spain.
The documentary takes him to breeders who use the dogs for hare coursing, and deep into the hunting world where Galgos are being mass bred in hopes of finding a winner. It shows the Galgueros passion for breeding, competing and hunting with Galgos, and the consequences these unrestricted practices have on thousands of Galgos each year.
What Yeray learned from making this documentary is that the situation is much more complicated than he imagined. It deals with tradition, identity, land ownership and how we relate to animals and each other. But the thing that surprises him the most of all is the scale of it.Watch Yo Galgo
WANT TO ADOPT A BEST FRIEND?
Thousands of best friends are in desperate need of new loving homes. Galgos del Sol rehomes about 250 dogs per year, but there are many more that need your help. Here you can read the stories of five dogs that are currently up for adoption at Galgos del Sol.
Visit Galgos del Sol’s website for all adoption ads and more information.
This is Henrick, he’s 2,5 years old. He is a very scared bloke that was rescued from the streets together with two heavily pregnant Galgas. Is he the father of these 22 puppies? He’s a handsome rough coated Galgo. A kind and calm dog that needs a home that has lots of time and patience, and if there’s another dog in the house that would make him feel the most comfortable. He will make a wonderful loving companion when he feels secure enough to come out of his shell.
Wonder, 2,5 years old and rescued from the street heavily pregnant and in very rough condition. Today Wonder is a super happy and friendly Galga, she loves everyone and when we were shooting her portrait she couldn’t keep herself from being close to us. This Galga is a loving lap dog with Leishmania. In other countries she would be put to sleep because of her diagnosis, but with the right medication she can live a happy life. She was found together with the rough coated Henrick who it turns out is also the father to her puppies. She had nine puppies that were very sick and had a rough start.. Unfortunately two of them didn’t make it, but the rest are growing stronger. It’s a wonder that so many of Wonder’s puppies survived.
Puppy Kamala is the daughter of Wonder and Henrick. She’s one of the seven pups that survived. She had the odds against her from the start, and was so weak that she had to be bottle fed. When she was born she was full of worms, and was not feeling well at all. But now, thanks to the hardworking souls at Galgos del Sol, Kamala is recovering and it looks like she will make it!
Stunning Rascal, 3,5 years old, was rescued from the streets where he was living for a very long time. He was a scared boy that wasn’t used to having people around him, but now he’s started to get more confident. He has Leishmania which means he needs medication and some extra visits to the vets for the rest of his life, but other than that he can live a perfectly normal life. He’s becoming a little clown that will bring lots of joy to a lucky family. Do you have the right home for Rascal?
Black beauty Belle is an absolutely adorable Galga. She’s 4 years old and is very scared, but will come around with some help from a patient and loving adoptive family. Belle is used to being around other dogs, and she would be the most happy in a family that already has a dog. Will she be your next family member?