Spanish shelter seeks homes abroad for mistreated greyhounds


UTRERA, Spain, Feb 9 (Reuters) - Some young and lively, others with greying muzzles and limping - hundreds of greyhounds are waiting in a dog shelter in southern Spain which hopes to find homes for the mistreated animals abroad as greyhounds are not common as pets in Spain.

"Ninety percent of our adoptions are abroad. There is no culture of having greyhounds as pets in our country so far," said Rocio Arrabal, head of the Benjamin Mehnert shelter and rescue foundation in the Andalusian town of Utrera.

The 'galgo' greyhounds are used to track or catch animals such as deer, wild boar and rabbits, but are often discarded when injured or sick.

A trainer works with a greyhound as they wait to be adopted by families at the Benjamin Mehnert Foundation (BMF), which shelters more than 600 animals, most of which are greyhounds that have suffered mistreatment or abandonment, in Utrera, near Seville, Spain, November 30, 2022. REUTERS/Nacho Doce

Hunting dogs have become a divisive issue in Spain, whose hunting industry is worth an estimated 5 billion euros ($5.4 billion) a year and has a powerful lobby.

Parliament approved on Thursday a bill aimed at bolstering animal rights, banning the sale of pets in shops, converting zoos into wildlife recovery centres and imposing prison sentences for abusers, but hunting dogs had been excluded from the bill.

The shelter houses around 600 dogs, mainly galgos. They mostly find homes in other European countries, but some travel as far as the United Stated and Canada, Arrabal said.

About 167,000 dogs were abandoned in Spain in 2021, many following the end of the hunting season, according to Barcelona-based Affinity Foundation.

Additional reporting by Miguel Gutierrez, writing by Miguel Gutierrez and Andrei Khalip, editing by Alexandra Hudson

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