Galgos and podencos are typically not considered pet worthy in Spain. Before hunting season, when some dogs lack potential or after hunting season, when owners no longer have use for some of them, the dogs are simply abandoned or tossed into perraras (kill stations). It is not an uncommon sight to see starving and injured dogs with lolling tongues running scared throughout the countryside as well as in cities and along busy motorways.
The work of rescuing galgos and podencos is not for the faint-hearted. The groups regularly scour perreras (kill stations) for galgos and podencos; the dogs are consistently found in horrendous condition. The charities may also get calls reporting sightings of dogs on the loose but often, by the time one gets to the location, the dog is gone. Then the detective work begins of discovering what the dog's routine is, leaving food, checking back to see if the food has been eaten and hoping for a sighting. While some dogs are ready to give themselves up, others are terrified and it may take several months of a set routine to build up the dog's trust to allow itself to be approached. Other dogs may need to be corralled in a closed-in area or if one has visible injuries, a trap with food might be set or a person with darting experience will be called in to help.
Once a dog is found in a perrera or rescued from the streets, the challenge of finding funds begins. The required fees paid to a perrera for a dog's release is significant and upon release to the charity, the cost of vetting begins. In both cases, evaluation by veterinarian is the first step that includes vaccinations, spay/neutering, tests for Mediterranean diseases and possible overnight stays if a dog is injured or ill. Often, follow-up surgery or medications may be necessary. These costs precede the expense of daily maintenance until an adoptive home is found. A galgo's or podenco's chance at a new life — from rescue to adoption — is a constant financial challenge for the charities.
The charities are completely dependent on foreign donations; there is no municipal or government support of any kind available. As the hope for bringing a new dog into a shelter arises so does the reality of finding commensurate financial help. Fundraising is a constant requirement of the charities to help dogs in need; if donations are available, then dogs can be saved. Without donations, the charities cannot provide help.
Many rescued galgos and podencos may not have suffered long-terms effects from their pasts and happily adjust to their new lives. Others, however, who have endured unimaginable mistreatment, may initially be shy or nervous. Once they learn that they are in their forever homes, they become the consummate companion who seeks affection and is eternally grateful to be part of a family. GPS and the Spanish charities work in tandem to assess the right family for the right dog. For information about the GPS adoption process, please contact Telma Shaw.