Documentary maker Yeray Lopez (Yo Galgo) has posted on his website the English translation of the public letter from the European Parliament to the Spanish government. Click HERE for the link or read the English version below.
Brussels, 11th of March 2021
Open letter on the welfare of hunting dogs in Spain
On behalf of the European Parliament Intergroup on the Welfare and Conservation of Animals, we are
writing to express our concern regarding the welfare of hunting dogs in Spain.
Article 13 of the Lisbon Treaty requires EU Member States to adapt their national legislation to recognise
the animals as sentient beings and to take this into account in future policy initiatives.
We are particularly concerned by the slow progress in introducing and implementing animal welfare laws
in Spain regarding galgos and other hunting dogs.
While the awareness and the need for effective environmental and animal welfare protection is increasing
across the Spanish society, the development of animal welfare laws and policies has not kept at pace with
The treatment of galgos and other hunting dogs in Spain is a particularly acute example. The responsibility
for most animal protection legislation and its application lies with the 17 autonomous communities,
leading to a diverse set of regulations, which are difficult to enforce. One consequence is that Spain has
the highest incidence of abandoned dogs in the European Union, with over 180,000 dogs being rescued in
2019 alone (data from an Affinity Foundation Study of Spanish dog pounds and rescue centres published
in 2020). Official figures are in stark contrast however reporting eight abandoned galgos in 2019.
We view the treatment of hunting dogs in Spain in contradiction with European values and do not see the
justification for the difference in protection granted to pets as companions, from that granted to galgos
and other hunting dogs as working animals. This distinction diminishes markedly their level of protection,
denying them the status of sentient beings recognised in Article 13, which among other things requires
them to be kept in reasonable conditions and free from all unnecessary suffering, including abandonment
and mistreatment by their owners.
It is worth noting in this context that in the rest of the European Union, hunting with dogs in open fields,
in the modality without human aid, is prohibited by law in view of the cruelty it causes. This contrasts with
laws and practices in Spain which actively encourage the pursuit, even to the extent of granting subsidies
to organisations involved in promoting the hunting with galgos and other hunting dogs.
We therefore recommend that urgent consideration be given to the need for a unified animal protection
law covering the whole of Spanish territory. Renewed legal measures are needed in the areas of breeding,
identification and registration, enforcement through exemplary fines and custodial sentences in extreme
cases of animal cruelty, and the creation of systematic policing controls with the provision of adequate
Moreover, the legislation has permitted 85,6% of common and private land to be reserved for the hunting
community, which represents only 1,6% of the population having hunting licenses. During the 2020
COVID-19 lockdown hunters, alone among outdoor leisure activities, were exempted from the restrictions
applying to the rest of the population, which resulted in 52 fatalities and some 600 people injured.
For this reason, we respectfully request the Spanish government and its relevant agencies to recognise
and respect the right of the 98,4% of non-hunting population to enjoy and interact with nature and the
environment in a peaceful manner, unhindered by a disproportionate and exclusive allocation of land for
hunting purposes. We further call for reinforcement, support, and due recognition of the work of animal
welfare protection agencies and their personnel, Agentes Forestales, who have declared themselves to feel
unprotected against hunters on numerous occasions. Their inadequate number means that hunters can
carry out their activities largely immune from any legal requirements aimed at preventing cruelty.
In the annex, we list a number of concrete measures which we consider a unified animal protection law
should include and trust that the Spanish government will take due notice of this letter.
Anja Hazekamp MEP
President of the Intergroup
Petras Auštrevičius MEP
Vice-President of the Intergroup
[Link to article with six measures]