Sunday, September 2, 2007

Cuba Day 6 Havana

Sunday July 29

Cuba Day 6 Havana

This day was to be a very busy one.

I’m up and out the door at 7:00. The reason for the early start is that I’m due in Vedado at 08:30 for a mini “campaña”.Cubans, I find, are big on showing their appreciation by actions. To acknowledge the arrival of the anesthetic I brought we were going to operate three dogs and three cats.

So I’m walking up the Prado, my favourite Havana street, looking for coffee. My primary destination is the Hotel Sevilla. I’ve stayed at the Sevilla several time, it’s one of the grand old ladies from the gangster era. Though I stay at Casa Evora when I can, the Sevilla is always a stop for the internet or a drink. I arrive to a quiet lobby and order my usual “espresso doble”. I’m stunned to hear the machine is broken “es roto”. So I’m on the road again up the road to Hotel plaza. Here I wake the waiter and bartender. The Hotel Plaza is another of the old ladies. Though rated a star less than the Sevilla the Plaza is in a prime location on the edge of Parque Central. Coffee at last.
In November of ’06 I spent a week in Havana staying at the Plaza. That trip, there was a huge plasma screen TV in the bar. Now here I am in July and there is a small TV on a stand. Apparenty the plasma “es roto”.

Time for a taxi to Vedado. On the edge of Parque Central is always a good place to find a ride. My taxi outfit of choice is Panataxi,These trademark yellow and white Lada’s are metered and economical. I found Luis and his Lada near the Inglaterra Hotel. We rode to Vedado along the Malecon. During the drive Luis agreed to show up the following Thrusday to take me to the airport. This has happened before with other taxistas ...we’ll see.

I arrived a little early and Amparo is packing up some items for the campaña. Shortly after my arrival there was a knock at the door and entered Israel a gentleman who protect cats in his neighbourhood.
Once we were prepared we were out the door for a walk to where the campaña is to be held.

Upon arrival Amparo began to record the information for the dogs and cats that were in attendance and Ibrahim the Vet was doing pre surgical exams and calculated the needed anesthetic. Ibrahim asked if I was going to assist him to which I replied “sure”.

This day we were slated to do six spays. Here are some of the patients. Note the Cuban inventiveness with the cat carriers.

There was one piece of business we had to take care of before the surgeries began. We had to hunt for a local semi feral cat known to Israel. We were not successful but as you can see from the photo a cat carrier would be an excellent donation. The onion bag works but we can do better.

Upon our return from the cat hunt we found Ibrahim was ready to begin.

As you can see we are not in a clinical setting. These campañas are held in the homes of individuals that are helping the effort in any way possible.

Eusebio Leal Spengler, director of the Historian’s Office of the City of Havana gave approval for this pilot project to take place in Centro Habana. We hope to prove that a well run spay and neuter campaign can control the animal population to the point that wholesale dog catching is not the means of population control.

At present Zoonosis, a branch of Salud Publica, roams the streets collecting unaccompanied dogs. They are taken to the outskirts of Havana where the are held for three days.
If the animals are not claimed they are killed ... the method Strychnine poisoning.

Each week an average of 150 dogs suffer this fate.

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