Cruel tradition: EU law to prevent the mutilation of dogs in Spain

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Galgos (Greyhounds)

A NEW EU law will help stop the mutilation of dogs in Spain.

The cruel practice of severing of tails and ears of hunting dogs has gone on for years in Spain, with another recent trend occurring to cut their vocal chords to prevent nuisance barking.

Much of this is done by the hunters themselves using a razor or a similarly crude cutting tool.

Many of the animals mutilated in this way suffer from pain, infection and other health problems due to the lack of veterinary knowledge or qualifications of their owners.

Until recently, Seprona agents (the Guardia Civil´s animal protection branch) did not deal with such incidents as a criminal offence despite laws which clarified the acts as such but 2016 saw 414 people arrested or investigated for crimes of cruelty against animals.

Huelva Province currently has more than a dozen cases open against at least 30 hunters for mutilating the ears of more than 1,000 dogs without a medical certificate.

These actions have caused thousands of people to protest, defending tradition and attempting to highlight the experience of seasoned hunters as being equal to the surgical skills of a vet.

Two people, in the Valencia and Huelva Provinces, admitted severing dog vocal chords themselves and were the first to be imprisoned for such acts of cruelty.

The European Convention for the Protection of Companion Animals is soon to enter into force in Spain, an act that will greatly aid the prosecution of those who abuse animals.

The act came into force in France in 1987 but was only ratified by the Spanish Senate in March and will take precedence over all current laws in 2018.

Currently, only seven of the 17 Spanish autonomous communities impose sanctions against those who remove the ears and tails of dogs, the rest permit the action but insist that it is carried out by a vet.

During the ratification, the Partido Popular attempted to exclude hunters from the law with an amendment that defended that the dog´s tails needed to be cut as they effectively hurt hunters travelling behind them with a whip-like effect but the proposal was soon rescinded.

Reports from the Official College of Veterinarians confirm that great pain is suffered by dogs who have their ears and tails cut off and also bring to attention the risks of such procedures which include infections, scarring, behavioural disorders, anaesthetic risks, unnecessary suffering and death.

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