Havana Cuba, is experiencing incredible changes at an unbelievable pace, even since we were last there in February. It is an honor to travel to Cuba and to have the opportunity to talk with our friends and colleagues about how best to help the animals, given all the hurdles we face in each of our countries, the most complicated of all being the US embargo against Cuba.
As we work to unravel the new processes on both sides, in order to start our TNR program, we find ourselves falling hopelessly in love with this country, its people and its animals. We witness the realities of living as a Cuban and are humbled by peoples resilience and creativity. Their sense of community is extended to us, despite us traveling from the country who imposed the embargo. Our interactions transcend political lines, they are about humanity and love.
We stay at hostels that are managed by community members who now graciously treat us as family. The whole street knows who we are and why we are there. Cats are everywhere at night and as we walk about, we chat to everyone and learn about the cats’ daily patterns. We see the tipped cats, who we have already fixed, hanging out in their same haunts, looking fat and sassy.
People tell us they like the program and would like it to take place more often as there are more cats around the corner, behind the scaffolding and in the park. Not one person said they should be killed or removed, not one. These cats certainly have a busy job keeping the rodent population in check, but they are also highly revered by the community. Don’t you know that the ‘Havanese cats’ are the most beautiful in the world? We do, they are certainly stunning.
As American’s begin to trickle into Havana, we had feared that the street cats and dogs might ‘disappear’, as so often happens in many countries, such as before major events like the Olympics. This is not the case in Cuba, of course there are random poisonings, but there is no effort to organize mass killing of the animals by anyone. No one wants to build a shelter; everyone understands that strategy does not work. It is rather the opposite, the question is; how can we work together to efficiently and humanely reduce their animal populations utilizing spay and neuter, while working with and providing information to the local community.
Animal Balance hopes that our 13 years of experience and humble delivery of this information, will aid the authorities with their strategy for the country. At this time, we are working together to create a humane strategy, whilst continuing to navigate the new and ever changing agreements between our countries.