Rescued greyhounds teach kids empathy in Spain

March 21, 2024 5:18 pm

[Source: Reuters]

Lanky greyhounds placidly let a bunch of beaming children pet them in the SOS Galgos shelter in the suburbs of Barcelona, where the rescued dogs are helping kids learn empathy for animals.

Known as ‘galgos’ in Spanish, greyhounds are used to track or catch game from rabbits to deer, but thousands of them are discarded in Spain every year when injured or just no longer in their prime.

Shelters like SOS Galgos seek to find homes for the dogs.

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While awaiting adoption, the greyhounds – known for their calm and gentle behaviour around children – bring joy to boys and girls who come here on field trips to learn to love and respect animals. Such “empathy classes” are part of the school curriculum in Spain under a law adopted in 2020.

“Children who have not had any contact with the animal world, and can even arrive with fear, leave here excited and happy that they have touched a dog … saying ‘I’m going to adopt, I’m not going to buy’,” said Sara Cadenas, who is in charge of the workshops.

“They learn here and then they tell their parents, kids in the playground on a weekend, which is particularly gratifying,” she added.

The shelter, which exists mostly on donations, charges a six-euro ($6.50) fee per child for a two-hour workshop. Schools from poorer neighbourhoods inhabited largely by immigrants have the expenses covered.

Hunting dogs have largely been excluded from a legislative drive to bolster animal rights and punish abusers. The hunting industry is worth an estimated annual 5 billion euros in Spain and has a powerful lobby.