In order to understand more about this issue, The Portugal News spoke to the president of SOS Animal, Sandra Duarte Cardoso, who said that there is no taboo around this practise and those who promote greyhound racing don’t have to hide it.
According to Sandra: “This scourge has been spoken about for decades but both political parties and chambers have no interest in ending this”. In fact, she goes further and adds that most of the races are supported by chambers. “There are several chambers, whether it is the councillors or mayors, who support them. Then, there are also some races that take place in private houses and farms, but there is no taboo in covering it up because it is legal”.
In the document they sent to the parliament, this group of citizens explain some of the procedures that owners use to train their dogs, namely waterwheels.
“The waterwheels are horizontal and mechanised devices, segmented by electrified metal plates, which rotate very quickly, forcing dogs to run in circles. When dogs do not keep pace, they are given electric shocks. During the races, dogs can reach 60 km/h, with their paws being severely injured, due to the rapid wear of paws in such a violent friction with the ground, this soil, most of the time, without the correct conditions”, reads the document.
“None of these methods can be accepted in a developed society. They use barbaric practices to train dogs that today should be banned”, said the president of SOS Animal.
Sandra Duarte Cardoso points out that Portugal, Spain and the United Kingdom are the countries in Europe where these dog races are most common.
According to the document sent to the parliament, in Portugal dog races are promoted in places such as: Vila Nova de Famalicão (pista de Nine); Póvoa de Varzim (pista da Estela); Vila do Conde (pista de Mindelo); Bombarral (pista da Associação Galgueira do Centro); Alenquer (pista da Romeira); Cuba do Alentejo (pista da Associação Galgueira de Cuba).
In addition, she believes that the main reasons to promote these races are money and ego. “It moves a lot of money, the sale of dogs after win also generates a lot of revenue. This lobby is associated with the bullfighting and hunting lobby, animals are being used as machines. The motivation is first monetary and then the ego of the greyhounds’ owners, to become known and to have something to prove”, she highlighted.
How can expats become involved and contribute to the lobby? She said that in spite of “legislative changes which are made by the will of the voting citizens and the foreign community, usually, there has been no vote in Portugal; however, they can always express their opinion on this "barbaric practice" both in the municipal councils and parish councils or even to political parties, writing and appealing to them in order to ban this barbaric practice in Portugal”.
Paula Martins is a fully qualified journalist, who finds writing a means of self-expression. She studied Journalism and Communication at University of Coimbra and recently Law in the Algarve. Press card: 8252