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.

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.

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.
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.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

Critter Cabs

Last week, returning to Picton from Toronto, I stopped in at a highway service centre to check email and get a snack.
I pulled in beside a vehicle that had a sign on the side

 I tracked down the driver, Laurel. 
She filled me in on the great work they are all doing.

"Critter Cabs Animal Rescue Transports is a Transport Co-Ordination Group whose purpose is to safely transport rescue animals within Quebec and into Ontario. People in this group are volunteers who give their time, gas and use of their vehicle to help death-row animals get from life-threatening situations to the safety of rescues."

On March 30 I did my first run.
Actually, I accepted this run after a cancelled run.
This run would normally have been done in a few legs with various drivers and vehicles.

Quinte Humane Society - Belleville
to John Street Animal Hospital - Markham

The Spanky Project has come full circle.
In 1995 QHS was the shelter where we met and adopted Spanky.
This is where it all began.

Once inside the doors, and awaiting my travel companions I came upon this...
"Angel in a Dog Suit encourages kids of all ages, cultures, creeds and abilities to discover that even the most challenging times can become triumphs. Ruby's story proves that in adversity there is always an opportunity for growth and that if we don't give up on love, life gets better!"

How wonderful!
The cover reminds me of a young Spanky

As a "Critter Cabbie" you sign for the transfer ..  

.. and receive the records for your passengers.
Then it's out the door.
Gidget and Benson were being transfered
to help out QHS.
Helped by a rescue group so as to free up space for new surrenders and intakes.

The ride was uneventful and Gidget and Benson will find a new life in Markham.

I now have a way to help animals here at home

Thank you Critter Cabs!

Earlier in this post is wrote"the Spanky Project has come full circle".
In actuality, and something that was discussed on our February campaña in Havana.
The Spanky Project is traveling more of a Möbius strip...

 ... a metaphor for the twists, turns, and reversals in our work.

You encounter people, groups and institutions on your journey.

With some, you may never have a meaningful interaction.
They just fall off the edge.

Some you may have that meaningful interaction, then you part.

Some you have that meaningful interaction and they are with you forever.
If you do part, as the twists and turns of the journey progress, you know they are always with you. 
Your journeys forever intersect.

Thank you to those that are with the Spanky Project on our journey.

Thanks to those like Critter Cabs for allowing us to intersect