ANIMAL-LOVERS in Extremadura have joined the national campaign against hunting with hounds in light of the inhumane conditions and cruel fate suffered by podencos and greyhounds.
The Roman city of Mérida in the heart of the land-locked western region held a protest this weekend, following on from others staged in many other major cities in recent weeks including Madrid, Barcelona, Alicante, Murcia, Zaragoza, Sevilla, Santander, Salamanca, Toledo, Castellón, Gijón, Segovia, and Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.
An association based in Badajoz says the campaign started five years ago in Madrid but has been gathering momentum across the country as public awareness increases about the plight of hunting hounds.
Coordinator Alejandra Porro reveals how the hounds are frequently treated as mere chattels, and pet shelters across Spain report rescued dogs having been found crammed together on short tethers, outside in all weathers, starved and, once they reach the end of their useful hunting days, killed by hanging or their throats being slit.
Podencos and greyhounds, although not to be trusted around smaller domestic animals due to their hunting instinct, make excellent pets as they are gentle, loyal, affectionate and will never attack a human under any circumstances.
Sra Porro's association, the Plataforma NAC, says the protest in Mérida was part of a series of actions aimed at 'being the voice of those who do not have one'.
She says taking the number of registered hounds into account and the fact that rural-dwellers who use them for hunting rarely have them sterilised – meaning they breed constantly – means up to 60,000 greyhounds and podencos die in Extremadura alone every year.
Alejandra Porro says her association and other animal charities 'release dogs hanging from olive trees' or 'rescue them after they are thrown down wells alive' – and that in many cases, it is too late – a situation she calls 'a carnage' and 'a massacre'.
Some are simply dumped in the wild or on the roadside, left to starve to death.
Once the hunting season is over or the hounds are too old or slow to hunt, the death rate rockets, as does the intake by animal shelters after police or members of the public find them abandoned or badly injured.