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.