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Havana’s dogs and cats welcome the Spanky Project.


Terry Shewchuk and his team of Canadian veterinarians, extend a paw to the dogs and cats of Havana, Cuba who cannot afford proper healthcare. more...


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Terry Shewchuk and his team of Canadian veterinarians, extend a paw to the dogs and cats of Havana, Cuba who cannot afford proper healthcare.

The Spanky Project was initiated in 2003, the year when Terry visited Cuba for the second time and his beloved mutt Spanky died. These two events prompted Terry to do something for the Havana mutts. He named his initiative “the Spanky Project”. In recent years cats and other domestic animals have been welcomed to take advantage of the free medical attention.

It needs to be said that Cubans love their domestic animals and happily drum up some patience for a stray dog that deems the middle of a busy road as the ideal place for a siesta. Fact is that parasite treatments, sterilization and preventive care are costly and veterinarian medicines are scares if not non-existent.

Over the last nine years, the Spanky Project has treated thousands of animals, both that live on the streets or with their owners. The initiative has developed into an official international collaboration between the Spanky Project and the various veterinarian organizations in Cuba including the veterinarian clinics of Havana.

I decide to go and visit Terry at the Clinica Veterenaria Laika in Old Havana and cannot believe my eyes. In a room of roughly 4x5 meters, the Spanky team managed to put up 3 improvised operating tables. I count at least 20 bodies in the crammed quarters, but no one seems to care. The Canadian surgeons are working closely together with their Cuban counterparts, demonstrating new techniques and fully incorporating freshly graduated Cuban vets who are introduced to new generations of medicines and anesthetics in the process.

I realize that this professional interaction is what makes the Spanky Project really shine. Terry tells me that soon he plans to move on to other Cuban cities, knowing that the medical supplies he will keep on sending to the various Havana clinics will be put to excellent use.

During my short visit I witness the sterilization of one dog and six cats and cannot help to ask wonder if Spanky would approve of all this loving attention to his natural adversary. Terry assures me Spanky would have been fine with it, after all, the fewer cats she would have to worry about, the better.

The 85 kilos of medicine that Terry and his team brought with them were paid for by donations from individuals. The Canadian team paid for their own passage on Cubana Airlines. Cuba Travel Network provided free accommodation for Terry while in Havana.

For more information on the Spanky Project, please visit spankyproject.org.

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