Friday, July 8, 2016

Before / After

For our February campaña we needed a space larger than 
Clinica Veterinaria Laika or Consultoiro Santo Angel.
Eusebio Leal, Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana, 
designated this building to be our "ad hoc" clinic.
We are very thankful for the support of Sr.Leal and the Oficina del Historiador Ciudad de La Habana (OHCH).

Casa Calderón is located Habana Vieja (Old Havana).
In it's century and a half of existence it has been repurposed many time.
I first visited here over ten years ago when it was known as the Casa de Tejedoras.
A cooperative of knitters and needle artists.
In it's next incarnation the casa, and adjacent park, is to be a boutique hotel.

Between our initial inspection late in 2015 ....
... and February 2016
 Sr.Leal saw to it that some improvements were put in place.
A big thank you to those structures under the OHCH that turned Casa Calderón into our home for World Spay Day Week.
·      UPI Grupo Avenida del Puerto
·      Servicios Generales OHC
·      Gestión Cultural OHC

 They made sure that the interior ...
... exterior ...
... and street were looking their best for this historic week.
They even brought in some heavy equipment to get the job done.
Years of building relationships, trust, respect and true collaboration have brought us to this point. 
Ahead of this, Cuba's first, World Spay Day an organizing committee was put in place in Havana.
The meetings were held at the Society for Heritage, Community and the Environment (SPCMA).
Headed by Aldo Vega Calderín -Especialista Cooperación Internacional (SPCMA) the Spanky Project brought together over thirteen Cuban groups, organizations and structures. 
Spay/Neuter of pets
TNR
Deparasitizations
Rabies Vaccinations
and more would round out our week.
With all the beautifying going on I had to get a little work done on myself.
Walking by my barbershop in Habana Vieja my guy Gerrardo was nowhere to be seen.
Gerrardo has retired and Josefina has taken over.
With her direction we did track down my old friend.
Hey who's that....


Monday, June 6, 2016

We're back!

Meet Marta and Nano.
Marta is the Plaza de Armas colony keeper.
We first met her in 2012 when we surveyed cat colonies in Old Havana
Nano is a resident street dog. Marta and others in the plaza see to his well being.
Here is a short video featuring Marta and her cats.
It was shot on a follow up trip after our first mass TNR in 2012.
It was such a pleasure for Dairne and I to reunite with Marta and see how the cats are doing.
Her main colony has shrunk since our last visit.
The re-construction site where many of the cats resided has wound up.
Some cats have dispersed from the plaza.
Others have taken to the old sewer network in Habana Vieja.
They travel from street to street via this subterranean freeway.
Our campaña priority on this trip was to return to the colonies we visited in 2013
 and continue to sterilize the cats.
We call this a "Regreso".

We did make new friends along the way.
Katia is a shopkeeper on Calle Oficio at Muralla.
She cares for street cats, and as you can see, their offspring.
Although our time in Havana is serious work ...
... we do manage to have some fun.
At the invitation of, my artist friend, Yainiel Martinez ...
... we dropped into the Taller Experimental de Gráfica de La Habana for the opening of Homo Pinocho


Check out this short film by Katie Monk about art in Cuba.
It features an interview with Yainiel.

Another "regresso".

Ada lives in a high rise apartment building in the Municipio Plaza area of Havana. 
As the name suggests it is near the Plaza de Revolucion.

We went from Parque Central to Calle Tulipan in style.

Our driver "Marinaro"( he was a sailor in the Cuban Navy)
has his car decked out with a serious entertainment system.
But that did not overshadow his persona.


Ada and other residents were awaiting our arrival....
.... cats too!
Here is some video of our visit.
video

Ada's colony is well known.
Some, see it as a dumping ground for unwanted "pets".
We see it as refuge.
A shelter without walls. 

Then, there were new locations to check out

We had several reports of a colony being in Plaza Cristo located on the western edge of Habana Vieja.
Dairne and I went to check it out.
While surveying the area we met a church employee who feeds the cats.
Apparently, the Padre is not fond of the cats and would rather they be gone
This will be the perfect opportunity for some "education" and a future TNR.
Our visit was timely.
We noticed a cat in distress under a hedgerow bordering the plaza.
Upon closer inspection the cat was in dire straits.
We needed a veterinarian.
Dairne went with employee to her nearby home in hope of making telephone contact with one of our collaborating veterinarians.
I hustled back to my casa particular to retrieve a carrier.
We could not make contact with one of our veterinarians so we took the poor cat to the main veterinary clinic in Havana.


The main veterinary clinic in Havana locks up their "pharmacy' for the night.
So, even though the clinic is open round the clock critical drugs are not available.
Our hope of euthanizing the cat was not possible.
We took the cat back to my casa for the night.
I provided food and water which was consumed overnight.
 In the morning we met with Dr.Leyssan at  Quinta de los Molinos.
Upon opening the carrier we heard the horror that had befallen the cat.
Someone tossed boiling water on the poor creature.
Leyssan immediately administered a sedative.
Euthanasia was the only option.
The injection was intracardiac (directly into the heart).
The end was quick.

The reason I bring you this story is ... our work is real.
It is not all purrs and wagging tails.
Along with all the joys and successes...
... there is heartbreak waiting for us.
One way or another ... we shed tears on every trip.

We need your support.
Help Cubans help their animals.

Here is some additional footage of Nano.
He is a happy dog.
video







Wednesday, May 11, 2016

If Not For You ...


Before I get into the heart of our February Campaña we have an appeal.
The Cuban Institute of Veterinary Medicine permitted us to double the amount of our critical medications for entry into Cuba. 
This, wonderful development, left us with a budgetary shortfall.

If you can, please donate to keep work in Cuba alive.
If you are not able to donate at this time ....
PLEASE SHARE this posting.
Tell a friend.

In the first seven days of our appeal we realized 18% of our goal.

Help Cubans help their animals.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Love is patient, love is kind ...



It has been over two years without a major sterilization campaña.
While we worked through the process we never lost hope.
Our love for Cuba's animals and people sustained us.
The love they showed for their animals never allowed us to give up.
Now that regular entry of our medications is assured, 
all our programs are back and running.
 TNR
Sterilzation Clinics for Pets
Deparasitizations for horses
Education Programs

It is fitting that our first full day on this trip would be Dia del Amor.

Our  casa particulares (accommodations) fronted on our clinic.
This morning we were created by Nina the Pero de la Casa.
She is the resident dog.
Also, a number of cats are resident and feast on the garbage bins located on the corner.
After our breakfast at La Marina we headed to our appointed meeting place for our ride to Mantanzas.
But that was not without some excitement.
The day before our arrival Pope Francis and Russian Orthodox Patriarch Kirill had a meeting at the Havana Airport.
This was the first meeting in nearly 1000 years between a Roman Catholic Pope and a Russian Orthodox Pope.
The first words from Francis to Kirill were ...
"Finally! We are brothers"
That meeting lasted three hours. 
Pope Francis flew on to Mexico and Patriarch Kirill remained in Havana.

 Our casa particulares were located around the corner from The Russian Orthodox Cathedral, Our Lady of Kazan Cathedral. 
Security had now set up a perimeter for blocks leading to the Cathedral and our appointed meeting spot.
Vehicular traffic was blocked from this area of Habana Vieja.
Kirill was giving a Divine Liturgy and President Raul Castro was in attendance.
 After we finally connected with Susana and Guillermo we were on the road.
Havana - Matanzas is 170km so we needed fuel and chocolate.
Why were we heading to Matanzas?
To meet Dr.Hanoi Dominquez of APAC - Varadero and to pick up cat traps.
APAC is doing great work in Mantanzas Province.
They have partnered with resort hotels to set up Cat Cafes and provide humane population control.
They also hold regular spay/neuter clinics for pets.
We had a dozen traps on loan to APAC.
They in turn loaned us their traps for our campaña in Havana
On the way back to Havana I requested we stop at a road side cafe. Specifically the one over looking Cuba's longest and tallest bridge.
During the round trip we had much time to talk about the plans for our World Spay Day Week.
We had this lead time to finalize details before our veterinary teams arrival.
It was to be a busy one filled with highs and lows. 
Many of which will be detailed in the next few reports.

During the roadtrip Susana presented Dairne and I with very nice cards and a gift.
A Valentine Puppy for me.
Once we had the cages stowed away in our clinic it was time to visit  HQ.
Our "headquarters" in Habana Vieja is Terracotta 4.
It is the studio-gallery of ceramicists Amelia Carballo and Ángel Norniella
HQ is a home away from home for the Spanky Project team.
Once we enter we can never leave without being feed and watered.
Their love and caring extends into the animal community of Habana Vieja.
 They are always caring for a sick or injured cat or dog.
They also manage a colony of cats in a park across the street from their studio.
When other Colony Keepers are not able to tend to their own Amelia & Angel step in.
Next we headed over to Amagura where Amelia has been filling in at feeding time for another Protectora.
This location is adjacent to Danza Teatro Retrazos .
This street will be the site for our
 mass deparasitization of pets on the last day of our World Spay Day week activities.

This was Dia del Amor or as some call it Valentine's Day.
(I like to see you happy)

A day when love is celebrated.
A day that should be a year long.
A lifetime that should be free of violence and abuse for both men and women.

On Calle Carlos III, near the University, we came across this billboard.
It promotes the Eres Mas campaign.
ERES MAS - Campaña por la no violencia hacia la mujer

The campaign for non-violence against women.


I leave you with this.
Let your love be defined by more than flowers, chocolate and words.