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.

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