Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Not every Spanky Project story has a happy ending

The Spanky Project has an ongoing presence in Havana.
Twice a year we arrive in Cuba with the purpose of setting up high volume spay / neuter clinics.
The supplies we bring are geared towards surgery.
But without fail, we meet an animal that is in serious trouble and there is no way we can turn away.

This time a little dog was brought to us emaciated and covered in one of the worse cases of mange mites and scabies any of our vets had ever seen.  
We have a “regular” at our campanas named Miguelito.  He usually shows up on at least two days with animals that need to be sterilized. Miguelito is a man of simple means who considers it his “duty as a human being” to care for any animal that needs his help.  He rescues dogs from the street and because he is known in his barrio as a guy who cares for animals, people think nothing of dumping animals at his home .  This last campana, he told us he is caring for about 40 animals.
Miguelito brings his animals to us on a tricycle he has rigged up to carry multiple boxes or cages at a time. 
He lives on the distant outskirts of Havana and he rides his bike two hours each way so they can have surgery.  He waits all day until his dogs are fully recovered before putting them back on his bike and taking them on the long journey home.
This time, Miguelito showed up on foot.  
His tricycle was broken so he walked 3.5 hours to get to us.  
He brought two dogs on leashes...
...  and carried this little pup, recently dumped near his home, 
in a bag because it was far too weak for such a long walk. 
So recent she had yet to be named. 
Doctor Natasja, a volunteer veterinarian from Holland,
took the lead in determining what could be done for this girl.
Blandine, on the right from France, was our spanish translator

We has some drugs to treat the mites,antibiotics to treat the lesions on the skin and something to ease the pain this dog was in. All were prescribed and administered by Dr.Natasja, who monitored the dog all day and advised Miguel regarding home care.
And thanks to our supporters who bring supplies with them when they visit Cuba, we had some very high quality dog food that we gave to Miguelito so this dog could get some good nutrition and regain its strength.  At the end of the day, Miguel put the dog back in the bag and walked 3.5 hours home, after his other two dogs had recovered from surgery.
Things were looking up for our girl.
Two days later, Miguelito showed back up (on foot) with this poor little dog and two more for surgery.  It was apparent that the help we were able to provide came too late.  This dog was going to die – maybe in a few hours, maybe a few days.  
In this situation, Cubans have no option except to watch their animal suffer until the end comes.  But we had a little Euthanol on hand, a drug for euthanasia.  Natasja offered a compassionate end-of-life solution to Miguel and he said he wanted to watch the dog while his other two were in surgery. 
I’m sure like most of us who have been in this position, 
he was hoping for some kind of miracle that didn’t come.  

With all the sadness this brought there was still opportunity to smile .
... as one of Miguelito's dogs was released from recovery.
Miguelito’s dedication to his animals is incredibly admirable. Despite a broken bike, he brought 6 dogs to us this time, walking long distances in the heat to get them the help they need.  He didn’t have 40 CUC (about $40 USD) to repair his bike and it takes every penny he has to feed his animals.  It didn’t take us long to decide to help him fix his bike so he could continue performing his
 “duty as a human being”.  
We expect to see Miguelito next February, ferrying his dogs back and forth on his tricycle.
This time however, he put the little dog back in the bag and 
walked 3.5 hours home 
to bury her there.

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Calm After The Storm

The original plan was to arrive in Havana September 27 for our sterilization Campaña scheduled for October 2 -5.
With hurricane Irma hitting areas of Cuba hard it was decided to head down a week early.
We put out a call for support and you came through.
Pain control, antibiotic, anti-parasitics were the core of the supplies.
Also syringes, needles and shampoos.

Loaded with hurricane relief supplies purchased with a flash fundraiser we flew in a week early.
Upon arrival one of our bags was marked for secondary inspection.
All bags entering Cuba are scanned before reaching the baggage carousel.
"MX" alerts the inspector to look for medicines.
If you have an "AX" on your tag they are looking for food.
We were secure in the fact we would enter without issue.
None of our supplies were restricted or prohibited.
Also, the weight of our medications was under the 7kg limit for duty free entry.
Spanky Project is well known at Jose Marti Airport both with Customs and the Veterinarians so that made for a smooth exit.
Havana was eerily calm.
Yes it was low season but obviously many had canceled their visits.
 The Malecon, seaside drive, was closed.
 Dr. Zeynep Guleryuzlu dare not cross the line 
for fear of being whistled off by the military on guard.
 Irma's storm surge flooded blocks into the Vedado district and affected other areas.
 Vegetation in the Prado area was killed off.
Havana weathered the storm better than other areas of Cuba.
Our Havana team reported that our furry friends had fared well.
Sad to say the human side had their loses.
The third story of a already deteriorated building collapsed onto a bus killing three.

As the week progressed Havana regained it's vigor ..

 ... and life returned to normal.
Normal for us in Havana includes ...
... meetings.

The Sociedad Patrimonio, Comunidad y Medio Ambiente (SPCMA) is an NGO operating under the Oficina del Historiador.
They are the collaborating Cuban structure coordinating our activities.
Visas, import permits, permissions and activity locations are just a few administrative activities they manage.
A huge thank you to Martha Oneida Pérez Cortés - SPCMA President
Dr.Zeynep - Turkish veterinarian Team Spanky
 Martha - President SPCMA
Terry Shewchuk -Founding Director Spanky Project
Audrey Mabie - President Spanky Project USA

Going forward we are working on a program called the 
"Urban Animal Management Plan".
It's a pilot project being developed in Habana Vieja.
Also we are developing the 
Cuban Disaster -Veterinary Relief, Recovery and Support Program.
The future is bright for Cubans helping their animals.
We need your to help secure the future.

For Canadians a tax receipt will be issued for online donations at
and for cheques mailed to...
Spanky Project
Box 6136
Picton ON  K0K 2T0
Canada
We ask that donations from around the globe use the above information.
EXCEPT for those in the USA. 
A tax receipt will be issued for online donations to
or for checks mailed to

Spanky Project USA
2823 Colorado St
Long Beach, CA 90814
USA

GRACIAS

Saturday, September 16, 2017

There will always be hurricanes

This was my third trip this year to the Cuban Consulate in Toronto.
The Spanky Project Team are issued D1 Cooperation Visas.
We do not ender Cuba with Tourist Visas.
Therefore the need for a 500km round trip and an early start.
It was a sad visit this time.
Consul Susana Malmierca will be returning to Cuba.
I would like to say here Susana has been a joy to work and very supportive of our work.
With the visa in hand it was time to head to Yonge Street Animal Hospital...
... where Spanky Project's Medical Director Dr.Michael Belovich was waiting.
Once our hurricane relief fundraiser was up and running we set a budget for out first delivery.
Dr.B placed the order and I picked up while in Toronto.
 A big thank you to those who have donated to the relief mission.
Someone by the name of Anonymous has donated twice.
We thank you so.. so. very.. much!!!
Once home it was time to start packing and preparing the paperwork required on the Cuban end.

Antibiotic, pain relief, needles, syringes, shampoo, dewormer and heart worm prevention
were all on our list.
The bags are package and the paperwork done.
Now I need to go to the "secondhand" store and buy a carry on bag. 
Not much room left for scrubs and a change of clothes.
Our new initiative
Cuban Veterinary Disaster Relief, Recovery and Support Program
has been given the go ahead by the Oficina del Historiador in Havana.
"There will always be hurricanes we should be prepared"

Truly a good days for Cubans helping their animals.

To be prepared we need you to show some love and ..


Sunday, September 10, 2017

Hurricane Irma


Some areas of Cuba have been devastated by 
Hurricane Irma.
The north shore, mid country, has taken the brunt.

Many of the supplies we have on hand can be used in medical relief but we may need to purchase other supplies depending on reports from our team members living in Cuba. Spanky Project and Spanky Project USA are consulting with their Veterinary Medical Directors to prepare a list of "Rapid Response" veterinary needs. Irma has brought into full focus that we need to further develop a program for future disasters in Cuba.
Cuban Disaster -Veterinary Relief, Recovery and Support Program.

Stay tuned for more details.

You can begin giving now!!!
The need is great.





For Canadians a tax receipt will be issued for online donations at
and for cheques mailed to...
Spanky Project
Box 6136
Picton ON  K0K 2T0
Canada
We ask that donations from around the globe use the above information.
For those in the USA a tax receipt will be issued for online donations to
or for checks mailed to

Spanky Project USA
2823 Colorado St
Long Beach, CA 90814
USA
We are hoping Quinta de los Molinos has not been hard hit.

It is home to our mass sterilization Campañas.
In the model below you see our location is surrounded by trees.
We are due to begin our next week long Campana there on October 1.

With power out our communication with our Cuban Team is limited to cellphone/texting.
This eats up our budget.
Cellphone top ups can be done easily with many providers like Ding.
There is a wide range of amounts available.
If you can help this way please use the email link below to contact me.
I will provide wit the number for one of our Cuban cells.

 Let's stand in solidarity with Cubans helping their animals.

Friday, September 1, 2017

O Canada! Help Cubans Help Their Animals

You can now donate to the Spanky Project through CanadaHelps
Whether you would like to give once, give monthly, donate a security or mutual fund, CanadaHelps is your online connection to the 
Spanky Project.
You can even give in tribute or memory.
You will receive a charitable tax receipt.

It's quick and easy.
 Donate by credit card or with PayPal.


Thursday, June 22, 2017

Our Paw Prints Are All Over This


Early June found us back in Havana.
But not for a campaña.
This was something very special.
Something historic!
The Spanky Project, a Canadian Not For Profit, is the first international group to enter into a collective agreement with the Oficina del Historiador de la Ciudad de La Habana(OHCH), for the benefit of animal welfare and humane population control.

This Convenio de Colaboración is an agreement between OHCH, Sociedad Civil Patrimonio, Comunidad y Medio Ambiente (SCPCMA) and the Spanky Project.
This document acknowledges our individual interests and how these can be brought together for the benefit of animals, people and the communities in which they live.
Martha O. Pérez Cortés - Terry Shewchuk - Perla Rosa Rosales Aguirreurreta
                                      SCPCMA                           Spanky Project                 OHCH


Here is an outline of each party
OHCH develops actions aimed at the historical-cultural, environmental and community rehabilitation of the province of Havana especially in its Historical Center and is supported by several planning documents.  In these documents the problem of the inadequate management of the domestic and wild fauna and their impact on the environmental health in their territory is acknowledged.

SCPCMA is a Cuban non-profit that coordinates and executes international cooperation projects and manages donations aimed at developing socio-cultural work in the Historical Center and supporting the OHCH's planning and management mechanisms.

The Spanky Project is a Canadian initiative that has among its objectives the development of international cooperation programs and that among its activities are the promotion of animal welfare and humane control of the animal population through sterilization. Also the continuing education of veterinary professionals on the welfare of animals.
The Spanky Project Organization shows total willingness to extend its collaboration regarding the management, control and care of domestic and street animals and other fields of collaboration that are necessary to support the Program for Management and Control of Urban Animals proposed by the SCPCMA.

The signing of this agreement leads to increased collaborations like the Program for Management and Control of Urban Animals 
The Spanky Project has had a very big role in the development of this program and in ensuring that the humane treatment and welfare of Cuba's animals is first and foremost.


Through our collaborations we bring a "world" of experience to Cuba.
With this Convenio our reach is only limited by the funding we receive.
You can help us extend our reach.
Look to the sidebar for donation links

It was such a honour to be surrounded by long time Spanky Project team members 
and our fabulous Cuban partners.
Also, a pleasure to invite to this momentous occasion a new team member. 
                             
At this time we are pleased to announce a new addition to our Spanky Project team.
Please welcome Dr. Zeynep Guleryuzlu
Zeynep is a former Research Assistant in the Department of Surgery at
Ankara University Faculty of Veterinary Medicine.
She is from Ankara, Turkey.

Zeynep brings great passion and a wealth of knowledge and experience to our work in Cuba.
We are grateful she has joined us on this path.

We began in 2003.
It has been a long and often bumpy road.
We have been blessed with wonderful people joining us on the journey.

If you want to go fast... go alone.
If you want to go far ... go together.