The Written Declaration on putting an immediate stop to the torture and mistreatment of greyhounds was launched in the European Parliament on 15 April by the French Member of Parliament Mrs Striffler and 11 other co-signatories, closed yesterday with the registration of 217 signatures. Though animal welfare issues are notoriously difficult to get on the European political agenda, this controversial and painful situation has gained more European attention than expected.

Thousands of greyhounds around Europe and most notably the Spanish greyhounds suffer and die in Europe every year. Used for hunting or coursing only, they are discarded or killed after only two to four years of service to their owners. Whilst alive they often live under deplorable circumstances and they are often victims of abuse and torture during their short lives. However, also in Ireland and the United Kingdom around 18.000 greyhounds give their lives each year to sustain the waning racing industry. Horrible examples of greyhounds being killed, starved, burned or hanged flood the internet.

More than 178 non-profit organisations in almost all European countries have fought against this neglect and maltreatment for decades. The launch of this Written Declaration has brought thousands of Europeans together in a joint effort to convince their national Members of European Parliament to call upon those member states responsible to comply with European animal welfare principles with regards to this atrocious situation. Especially due to the tremendous work of Joelle Oldenbourg and her team of Galgos Ethique Europe, more than 200.000 letters were sent to the MEPs in only three months time, showing an enormous amount of engagement on a European level.

In Spain the Written Declaration sparked manifestations in Madrid and Barcelona by those Spanish citizens that ask their own country to put an end to this suffering. PACMA, the Spanish political party focussed on animal welfare and many other Spanish organisations also pushed the campaign within in Spain in the hope that their own government will finally change matters.

Unfortuately the Written Declaration 0006/2013 did not get the signatures of the majority of the European parliament which are needed to pass the declaration on to the European Commission for further action. However, the number is substantial and certainly addresses the political will within the European Parliament to address this horrible suffering in a modern Europe, that was once at the forefront of animal welfare.