Sunday, October 26, 2014

Have Visa Will Travel.

This was to be a short trip. 
The goal was to attend meetings in an attempt to get our full programs back on track.
Spay and neuters have been on hold as a result of our medicines and anaesthetics not be given permission for entry.

Firstly, my thanks to Pauline and Gilbert of Redtail Vineyard.

They happily took care of Skeeter during my absence.
For a number of years they were neighbours here in Prince Edward County

After dropping Skeeter off it was a 200km drive to Toronto and my flight.
As a result of bureaucratic difficulties it has been fourteen months 
since I last touched down in Cuba
It felt so good to be over La Isla.
Arrival in Varadero was uneventful.
Without the usual 23 kilo bags of supplies Customs paid no notice.

Once in Havana I checked into the modest Hotel Caribbean.
At the front desk I was warmly greeted then .....
"Señor we have a problem."
"The elevator she is no working."
"Here I show you the rooms available."
There were rooms on the second, third, fourth and fifth floors.
I asked ...
"What room would you take"
She looked and shrugged and said 

That's my room. 
Blue building top right window.
Yes, modest but all I needed was a bed and a shower. 
The bonus was hot water in the shower.
The view from my room was lovely....
 ... and this is a prime location.
Paseo del Prado is my favourite street in the whole world.
After dropping my bag it was up the Prado to Pasteleria Francesca for a late snack.
In the morning the meetings begin.
I will be posting shortly about this trip and what the future holds for the Spanky Project

Two thumbs up.
Dr.Hester Massop has accepted our offer to join the Spanky Project team.

Hester spent the month of September in Cuba.
It did not take very long to realize she and the Spanky Project were a perfect fit.
She will head up our increased support for Cuban equines.
Keep and eye out here for Hester's recounting of her month helping Cubans help their horses.

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Hoofing It To Cuba!

Back in early January I received an email from Dr.Hester Massop. She is a Dutch Veterinarian presently living and working in England.

Here is an excerpt...
 “I have been on holiday in Cuba and seen with my own eyes (which I knew I would) what struggles and battles there are to be fought and that they will be hard and often leave you feeling helpless (but in need to keep going)

I am writing you to see how I can be of help in person if possible, I do have to say that my utmost passion lays with horses and I will try to get in contact with Julio of the Diana Project, as I am going to do a intensive farrier course in the USA in June and July and after that traveling around the whole of America and hopefully Cuba again. I am also trained in acupuncture for animals.

I know that money is always needed, but I would like to do more and I am hoping you could give me a heads up where I could be most helpful.

I think my plans would be to go to Cuba around Sept/ Oct time.”

With that we got to work.

Susana, Spanky Project Coordinator of Projects in Havana, contacted our collaborating partners. They were thrilled and excited with the prospect of 
having Hester work and share with them for a month. 
In short order we put together a program based in Havana with stops in 
Trinidad, Aguacate and Vinales.
Once that was established we began the visas process. 

Here as some photos of Hester perfecting her technique at the Pacific Coast Horseshoeing School.
She's not a giant. It's a very small horse.

Once Hester's visas was issued it was full steam ahead.

On July 25 Hester arrived in Toronto. I drove in with my dog Skeeter to pick her up at the airport.
Once we got her checked in it was off to dinner with Dr.Michael Belovich and Dr.Michele Travers.
Both are a big part of the Spanky Project and have been to Cuba working with horses.

After leaving Hester for a couple of days in Toronto, which allowed her a trip to Niagara Falls, I was back with Skeeter to show her around the city.

Skeeter has been on the limp of late. 
Hester did a sidewalk exam of my little buddy.
It's nice to have Vets as friends. 

We toured around various neighbourhoods of Toronto.
While in Kensington Market it was time to shop for a Salsa Congress she was attending while in town.
Skeeter was much less interested in the shopping protion of our day ....
... than the ice cream part of the day.
A fun time was had by all.
 It was great to have some face to face time with Hester before her Cuban adventure.

 This is Hester first full day in Havana.

 Here is today's program.
Day One
Theoretical Workshop: Equine foot. Care of hoof and frog. Cold and hot shoeing. Equine orthopedics. Defects and correction. Food and water needs. Animal well being: harness and shaft management. Veterinary problems.
Time: 10am-2m (with a short break)
Location: Quinta de los Molinos. Calle Infanta esquina Carlos III, Centro Habana
Special Guest: Dr. Carlos Yrurzun. Full Professor at the Facultad de Medicina Veterinaria, Universidad Agraria de La Habana (UNAH), Specialist in Horse Management

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Back to School

It has been a long time since our last posted. 
The Spanky Project’s mass spay and neuter campañas are still on hold.

We continue to seek a way to get the entry approval process for our
 anaesthesia and medications back on track.
As we work our way through the system other segments of our efforts and collaborations are on going. These include education programs and collaborations.

Frequenters of the Spanky Project blog will know of our excellent relations with 
Quinta de los Molinos. 
A large botanical garden in the heart of Havana.
  It also houses native species of Cuban animals.
Dr.Leyssan, Quinta’s Veterinarian, has developed workshops and classes for children in the areas of animal welfare and the environment.
The Spanky Project aids this initiative by asking visitors to Havana to save a little room in their luggage for art supplies and writing materials.
Many have done so ... and some often.

It is back to school time and the sales are on. Time to load up and help support Dr.Leyssan’s worthwhile programs.

 Susana, the Spanky Project’s coordinator in Havana, is often asked to speak at these gatherings. 

She is asked to give a presentation on the Spanky Project’s history and the work being done for Cuban animals and their care givers.

I am told that the children find it inspirational that from out of the loving memory of a furry companion a program like the Spanky Project can be born.
I’m sure some of these children will go forward and find their own inspiration to bring 
light, love and joy to the world.
It doesn’t have to be about animals.
They all have it in them to make a difference.
If a dog, that passed away in 2003, can inspire the young of today then it is a wonderful world. 

Below is an except from and email Susana sent to a generous donor...
"I want to send you the attached image that shows a very happy Leyssan - the veterinarian at Quinta de los Molinos - receiving your wonderful donation of educational supplies for the programs they're doing with kids.
He was particularly delighted with the PlayFoam modeling "clay," saying this would be great for the kids from the special schools and kids with autism, among others. I think I had told you the story about how last year, they did their first "hands on animals" program with kids from the school for special education, and it was so successful that this year they've been asked to expand to other schools for children with different kinds of social, physical and learning problems. This year they have the following schools: five special education, two schools for kids with behaviour problems, one school for deaf and mute children, two schools for kids with autism, two schools for kids with mental retardation and two centres for children with Downs Syndrome. Amazing, eh? And Leyssan said the PlayFoam clay would be great for all of them, especially as it's reusable. And he's already thinking of having them incorporate materials from nature for the eyes, ears, tails, etc. - seeds, leaves, fronds, little stones, shells, etc. And he was delighted to see so many colouring and painting materials. He thanks you profoundly for your support and says that the next time you're in Cuba, you should plan in time to visit the Quinta."

If you would like to help the children set the stage for a happier tomorrow we would love to hear from you.

Please share this on your Twitter feed!


Sunday, May 4, 2014

A Passing

It is with sadness that we learned about the passing of Alejandro Noa.
Alejandro was a Havana artist that created hand painted greeting cards.

This is the first example of his work I ever saw. It was a card that Justo, a Spanky Project supporter in Havana had given me.

Through Justo we commissioned Alejandro to create Thank You cards and other material for the Spanky Project.

 Here is one of my favourite pieces.

 Justo has sent some detail about Alejandro.

"Alejandro was divorced. He used to live with his sister divorced too, but she died suddenly too about 4 years ago.  His only relative alive, as far as we know, is his nephew, son of his sister.  Lately he had been having problem with his heart and was under treatment, trying to control the high blood pressure, the beatings and arrhythmia  of his heart, etc.  But as the seller of the cards on Neptune street told me, he died quite suddenly at night, alone."

It is wonderful that he brought joy to others with his creations.

Adios Alejandro.
 You will be missed.

Earth Cries Heaven Smiles.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Thank goodness that is over ..

Thank goodness that is over!!!!!!!!
2013 was not a stellar year for our efforts in Cuba.
A PayPal freeze, two cancelled trips.
All this and more resulted in lost opportunities to help Cubans help their animals.
It's a shame when governments get in the way of efforts to do good.

Forever the optimist I say to myself.
Let's kick 2013 to the curb and push on.

From the Spanky Project we send our deepest thanks to those that support the work in Cuba...
... or anywhere animals are in need.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

In ten years ...

It was a day, ten years ago this week, that I will forever remember.

December 13, 2003 was the day Saddam Hussein was "smoked out of his hole" and I visited my first spay/neuter campaña in Cuba.

I would have though that at least one of the events would have received a mention in the media yesterday.

This campaña was held in a private house with surgery done on a kitchen table. Thirty plus dogs were sterilized by a highly skilled veterinarian. A team of volunteers and "protectoras" would hold these weekend events because there were neither the supplies nor the willingness to do this in a government run clinic.

So, what has changed in ten years?
The USA still has a unhealthy paranoia of the outside world. Veterinary clinics in Cuba still do not have supplies to carry out emergency surgery on small animals-- let alone elective surgery like spay/neuters.
One of these constants should be easier to remedy that the other.

The Spanky Project has forged relationships and signed agreements which allow us to work with and in government veterinary clinics. This has allowed humane population control to go from the kitchen table to the surgical suite.

Recently, it seems that the care of small animals in Havana has been "flashbacked" to 2003.
And, unfortunately, today's "private" veterinarian is not always as skilled as the one I met in 2003.

The Spanky Project had to cancel two long planned trips to Havana. The first, in October, would have seen the official hand over of two anaesthesia machines to the University of Havana Faculty of Veterinary Medicine. A number of sterilization campañas were to be held, also.
The second, in December, was to be a continuation of the highly successful TNR for cats program launched in October 2012.
These trips were canceled because the Institute of Veterinary Medicine (IMV) in Cuba would not approve our anaesthesias and other pharmaceuticals for entry into Cuba.
Many of these supplies had been approved in the past.
The IMV now refers to a "Registro de Medicamentos", listing the only drugs that are permitted to enter Cuba for veterinary use. The bulk of the approved pharmaceuticals serve large animals. Few, if any, apply to small animals-- primarily cats and dogs.

The present rules of the "Registro de Medicamentos" require the manufacturing company to make the application and provide data as to use and safety of a drug they wish to have available for use in Cuba.
I ask you, what manufacturer would want to go through the effort to have their products registered in Cuba when there is no profit to be made?

We have sent our comments on the "Registro" to the IMV for consideration. We have also sent suggestions as to how a solution could be found to permit entry under special circumstances.
Suggestions such as the drugs we require would be used in designated locations only.
Used under strict reporting guidelines as to application and reporting of any negative effects or outcomes. 

At present, the clinics in Havana do not have anaesthetics. People are seeking out "private" veterinarians for treatment of their animals. These "private" veterinarian's access to anaesthetic would be less than legal.
Some of the "private" veterinarians are not qualified to call themselves veterinarians.

We have an excellent relationship with the Clinca Veterinaria Carlos III in Havana. This was the location of our mass TNR where 380+ cats were sterilized in one five days.
They have had cases where people bring in their pets that were operated on by a "private" veterinarian because of infections or other complications.
The situation in Havana, and likely other areas of Cuba, is critical from a small animal care perspective.

We want to work with the IMV to help Cubans help their animals.
The Spanky Project has reached out to the IMV... we are awaiting a response. We have over $9000.00 worth of supplies purchased packed and you have the paperwork for approval.
We are packed and ready to go. Just give us the word!!

What has changed in ten years? If one looks at the big picture ... not much.
There have been victories along the way but the struggle continues.
Why is it so hard to try to do good?

"Seamos realistas y hagamos lo imposible" - Ernesto Che Guevara
(Let's be realists and do the impossible) 

Waiting for a miracle!

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Wishlist Wednesday

It has been a while since we have had a 

Below are items that can be purchased and delivered by you to Cuba.
We have partners in several locals.

Ketchum 50D 7digit Tattoo Clamp.
We tattoo all pet dogs and cats.
3/16" Characeter Set 0-9 A-Z
Letters & Numbers 4mm
50 mL. 1% Ivomec
Injection for Cattle and Swine
Dosed at a rate of 1/10 cc per lb. this product goes a long way.
Ivomec is a brand name ivermectin product.
Other brand names include Noramectin and Bimectin.
USA  $34.95
 UK £14.57 + VAT
Broad spectrum solution for treating intestinal parasites in dogs at a lower cost

 UK £1.60 treats 10kg
Surgical Gloves sizes all sizes 
We hand these out as a thank you to veterinarians and students that volunteer at our campañas.
Canada $4.79
UK £7.19
Oster #40 Clipper Blades
USA $18.31 on Sale
USA $29.30
UK £25.00 (Including VAT at 20%)
Australia 47.97
Broad spectrum anthelmintic (wormer) for dogs.
This is a low cost alternative to a leading brand name.
Australia AU$135.95
AU ebay  AU $144.31
Hot water bottles.
While under anaesthesia body temperatures drop.
Hot water bottles placed next to the patient help speed recovery.
Epson Stylus NX430 printer ink cartridges
-for delivery to Havana-
Please don't find yourself limited to the above items.
Grooming equipment (Shavers, brushes, scissors, shampoo, nail clippers, combs, etc)
Scrub shirts and pants volunteers.

You may find inspiration in some of our past
If you have any question sent us an email.

Destination delivery details will be provided via email.
We have contacts in
Havana - Varadero - Trinidad - Jibacoa (soon)

Thank you for your support.
Every delivery, no matter how big or small, has a positive impact.

One final wish!
We have received a generous donation of cat traps and transfer cages.
These will be a priceless addition to our December TNR in Havana.
But we need to get them there.
Air Transat may help us with some free cargo space.
If not, we will need another way to get them to either Havana or Varadero.
If need be we will have to pay full freight.
One by one may be an option.
If you are flying out of Toronto and have a second bag allowance you are not using 
we could use your help.
Air Canada and Cubana allow two free bags into Havana.
WestJet allows a second bag for a fee ($20) into Varadero.
   The traps look like the one above.
8 lbs        10”x10”x27.5”

We have seven other boxes ....
  30 lbs        20”x20”x31”
    32 lbs        14”x26”x32.5”
    29 lbs        20”x20”x27.5”
    29 lbs        20”x20”x27.5”
 32 lbs        20”x20”x31”
 32 lbs        20”x20”x31”
  32 lbs        20”x20”x31”
... if you have connections at Air Canada, Cubana, WestJet or a cargo company.

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