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Monday, 29 April, 2002, 00:34 GMT 01:34 UK
Spain under fire for hanging dogs
hunting
Dogs that hunted well were killed quickly
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By Flora Botsford
BBC correspondent in Madrid
line
Animal rights campaigners have criticised Spain for what it says is the widespread practice of killing hunting dogs.

The World Society for the Protection of Animal says tens of thousands of Spanish racing dogs, known as galgos, are hanged every year following the end of the hunting season.

The WSPA says it found dead dogs with nooses around their necks dumped in shallow graves or their corpses left hanging from trees.

According to the charity, dogs that did badly in the hunting season were hanged with a low noose.

Faster death

The practice was known as the "piano player" because the dogs would frantically scrabble their legs in an effort to reach the ground.

Dogs which had hunted well were given a faster death by being hanged higher up.

A spokesman for the charity said it was scandalous that Spain, which holds the current presidency of the European Union, should allow such cruelty and abuse of animals.

The WSPA has written to the Spanish Government, calling on it to finally adopt an animal welfare law that would outlaw such cruelty.

Mutilated dogs

Just last week a group of MPs and animal rights campaigners managed to win a debate in parliament on the issue but they lost the vote on changing the penal code to make cruelty to animals a crime punishable by a prison sentence.

The campaign was prompted by the discovery of 15 mutilated dogs in the district of Tarragona in November last year.

A Spanish animal welfare organisation, Altarriba Foundation, collected 600,000 signatures supporting a change in the law.

But in Spain the whole concept of animal rights has yet to make an impact on society.

For example, the national fiesta or bullfighting remains popular, although there is some anecdotal evidence to suggest that younger people are less in favour.

See also:

06 Jul 99 | Europe
Cruelty charge for bull run
21 Sep 00 | UK
Fighting the bullfighters
17 Jan 01 | Europe
Pet blessing excites Madrid
28 Apr 02 | South Asia
Karzai heads for hat trouble
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