Sunday, December 25, 2016

Boxing Day!

The Spanky Project is a 
Federally Incorporated Not For Profit 
We are based in Canada and have been helping Cubans help their animals since 2003.




Medical supplies are required in order for us to do our work in Cuba! 

We conduct high volume sterilization clinics twice each year. 
Also, we hold mini-campañas monthly.
 Pets and street animals are given a health check,spayed or neutered and given rabies vaccines as well as anti-parasite medication.  

This is of course free to a community that otherwise would not have access to these services either due to cost or availability of supplies.







The supplies we need are either not available at all in Cuba or very hard to come by. So…..we bring them with us.  You should see us at the airport, lugging around heavy suitcases loaded with supplies.  



There is one problem ... but a good one to have.  
One of our core members, in the USA, has many contacts in the world of healthcare and surgery who are very generous in donating supplies.  
So generous, in fact, that we need help getting all of them to Cuba 
in between the campaigns. 
This is where you can help!
If you are planning a trip to Cuba... or know someone who is ... it would be great if you could take some of our supplies. 

We'll ship you a "caja".
Caja is spanish for "box".
Oh and the "j" is pronounced like an "h".
Repeat after me "Caja"


We can fit quite a lot of essential supplies into a "Spanky Caja"....
... that is 12"x12"x6" 
The only catch is we’d like you to pay for the postage to help us keep our costs down.  
The cost is $15.00 for a USPS large flat rate box.  
... or ...

..... WAIT ....
 If you are in the Los Angeles area, we can arrange a meeting place to deliver them to you.
Contact us and we’ll make arrangements to get a box to you and a place to drop the supplies off once you are in Havana .  
Join us and our team to help Cubans help their animals.
These boxes contain no pharmaceuticals, medications, drugs, liquids.

A typical box may have suture, gauze, gloves, needles/syringes, surgical drapes.


Our focus is in Havana but if you are headed to Pinar Del Rio or Trinidad we collaborate with groups in these locations.
They, too, do great work and we support each other whenever we can.
Thank you for taking the time to consider this effort.
Cuba's animals await you.




Saturday, December 24, 2016

From Our Family To Yours


Our Spanky Project Family wishes you and yours all the best during this festive season.
No matter what your faith or persuasion let's all be united in making this a better world
for all living creatures.

Check back on Christmas Day as we unwrap a new program.

Here's a hint....
It is going to be Boxing Day all year round in Havana.
..... those of you in the USA will, especially, want to check back.





Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Follow Your Dreams.


In 2006 the Spanky Project signed a Carta de Intencion with the 
Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba (CCVC).
It is under their umbrella we work.
Created in 1908 the CCVC is a national NGO representing over a dozen aspects of 
Cuban Veterinary medicine.
Dr. Fermín Manuel Palazuelos - President CCVC 2006

In 2011 the Spanky Project made a more formal pact with the CCVC.
It was Dra.Amaro, widow of the late Dr.Fermin,  who facilitated the 
Convenio de Colaboración.

On December 14, 2016, the 108th anniversary of the CCVC, a great honour was bestowed upon me.

That being made an...
Honourary Member
Dra.Betty Amaro - President CCVC

I took this opportunity to say a few words...
and in Spanish.
My heartfelt thanks to the Consejo for this wonderful honour. 
As Betty knows I have resisted this moment for years. 
The Spanky Project has never been about me. 

By virtue of it’s guiding spirit it is about …. 
Cuba

It is about …
the hopes and dreams of those who want to better the lives of animals. 

It is about..
the animals. 

So, I accept this honour in the name of the Spanky Project and of those who go after their dreams to make them reality. 

The Spanky Project has been helping Cubans help their animals since 2003. 
The project was born out of the love for a furry friend, my four-legged soul mate, my dog Spanky. 

In 2006 the Consejo, under then President Dr. Fermín Manuel Palazuelos Tuset., signed a Carta de Intención with the Spanky Project.
In 2011 we this turned into a more formal Convenio de Colaboración.

The Consejo gave us a foundation to build upon and I am forever grateful to Fermin, to Dra.Betty Amaro and to the Consejo in general for seeing the value of our work and to share our dream. 

Dreams are easier to achieve with help and friends by your side. 

If you want to go fast go alone

If you want to go far…. go together

Let us go together.

As Che so wisely said: Seamos realistas y hagamos lo imposible.
                                            (Let's be realists and do the impossible)


With all my heart I thank you all.
The road is long and I am grateful you are on it with us.
I encourage all of you to follow that dream you have.

Follow your dream and amazing happens.





Friday, December 2, 2016

Dispatches From Havana Mini-Campaña

Dispatches from Havana –
(On-the-spot news from Susana Hurlich, the Spanky Project’s coordinator in Cuba)

On Monday, November 14, 2016 we held what is our third – for this year - mini-sterilization campaign at Quinta de los Molinos. Starting last year, we have been organizing these campaigns in close collaboration with Quinta de los Molinos, an eco-educational and urban park centre coming under the Historian’s Office of the City of Havana and one of our important counterparts for our work in the Cuban capital. Our hope is to eventually hold such campaigns on a monthly basis. They are small campaigns – no more than fifteen cats and dogs each time – but they provide yet another contribution to humane population control of both mascots and street animals in between our twice-yearly mass sterilization campaigns.

This time we sterilized twelve animals including eight cats and four dogs. Of the cats, one was male and seven were female of whom three were pregnant. All four dogs were females of whom one was pregnant.

The “waiting room” at Quinta de los Molinos.
Our team was once again excellent and is, in fact, one of several permanent teams of Cuban veterinary professionals who regularly collaborate with the Spanky Project and with whom we have been working to help upgrade some of their skills (pain management and control, combination anesthetics, etc.). Here they are:

  • Dr. Leyssan Cepero Fiallo, chief veterinarian at Quinta de los Molinos who also works closely with the Historian’s Office in Habana Vieja. He was in charge of surgery.
  • Dr. Yanaisy (“Nana”) Pino, who was in charge of the initial clinical assessment of the animals, anesthetic and post-operative care.
  • Yoel Machado, the veterinary technician at Quinta de los Molinos who was in charge of preparation.
  • Ernesto Sanchez, a fifth-year veterinary student who, for the past two years, has been doing his practicum at Quinta de los Molinos. Ernesto assisted with surgical support.

We also had several additional people working with us:

  • Dr. Zeynep Guleryuzlu, a visiting veterinarian from Turkey who is interested to support our work and who will, in the near future, become one of our international collaborating veterinarians.
  • Dr. Susana Alfonso Domingo, a fourth-year medical student (for people) whose two cats were sterilized in our previous campaigns and who wants to help our campaigns. She assisted in both preparation and post-operative care.
  • Claudia Mena, a new Spanky Project collaborator, who will be responsible for one of our “community dogs and cats” micro-projects in Habana Vieja.
 From left to right: Leyssan, Nana, Ernesto, Susana (Spanky Project) and Zeynep. Note Zeynep’s wonderful “veterinarian cat cap” which everyone commented on, even the owners. (Some of the team members had unfortunately left before we took the group shot!)

Our team arrived at Quinta at 8am, with a plan to begin operating at 9am. All the animals had appointments, divided into three groups of five between 9-10am, 10-11am and 11am to noon. These appointments are made – by phone during the previous two weeks - with people hearing about the upcoming campaign by word of mouth, or people who have participated in earlier campaigns who still have animals they’d like to neuter. At the time of the phone call, we provide a little orientation about how to prepare the animals for surgery (fasting, drinking little water, anti-parasitics where possible, etc.)

However, we weren’t able to begin operating until almost 10:30am as there was a problem with water supply this morning into this part of the city. Water didn’t begin to enter the area until about 10am, and then we had to wait another half hour for it to be pumped up to the tank on top of the building so that the operating clinic-cum-laboratory could begin the surgeries.

In the meantime, all animals were registered, as shown below. In addition to contact information for the owner or protector, we get basic information about the animal: age, previous health problems, allergies, whether the animal lives outside or inside, etc. All this information is helpful to know when the clinical examination takes place.
Claudia registering Chulito, our only male cat during this campaign, brought in by Amelia, a ceramist from Habana Vieja who cares for a colony of some 25 cats.

Among both cats and dogs, we had several who had been rescued from the street. Chulito, a one-year-old male cat, was abandoned in a garbage bin as a newborn, and in the process apparently suffered a head injury that caused spasms. Now his spasms are under control with the daily administration of phenobarbital and he has a loving home with Ileana, a friend of Amelia’s who wasn’t able to come to the campaign due to illness. Thanks to Amelia’s assistance, little Chulito is now neutered.

Sisi, a rescue dog who has been in the care of the custodians of the parking lot of the Cuban Film Institute (ICAIC) – located two blocks from my home – was pregnant, in her first trimester, with a baker’s dozen of puppies (actually, eleven rather than thirteen). Today she’s recuperating from her surgery in the home of a neighbor who has talked with the custodians about finding a permanent “forever home” for her. No one knows her age, but she’s a very gentle and noble being. She came to our campaign with four-month-old Gisela, a black puppy who was rescued from the street just a month ago.
 Sisi (standing with her back to us) and Gisela (black puppy).

These are only two stories of the many stories we have of the animals who pass through our campaigns. Every story is different, but the common thread running through them is that whether owner or protector, these are animals who are loved, who have been saved from terrible fates on the street and who are now no longer in danger of either bringing into the world yet more unwanted and/or abandoned animals, nor of being vulnerable to sexually transmitted diseases.
 Dr. Leyssan in the surgical ward.

All animals who go through our neutering campaigns receive either a tattoo on their earlobe and/or on their abdomen (mascots) or, in the case of colony cats, the tip of one of their ears is docked – all under anesthetic, of course. This helps to identify that they’ve been neutered.

People who brought animals to this campaign came from the five municipalities of Habana Vieja, Centro, Plaza, Playa and Marianao.

Our thanks go not only to our wonderful collaborating Cuban veterinarians, veterinary technicians and others, but also to the owners and protectors who care enough about their animal friends to participate in our campaigns.
 Adian and his four-legged friend Albina waiting their turn.

If you’d like to help our work…

…although the entry of medications into Cuba - such as anesthetics - is tightly controlled, there are a number of disposable supplies that are extremely useful for sterilization campaigns for cats and dogs. Here’s a little list of things that are in short supply here and that can be brought into the country by visitors without the need for customs authorization:
  • Syringes, 1 mL (1 cc), sizes 27G x ½”, 25G x 5/8” and especially 23G or 22G x ½”
  • Absorbable sutures, sizes 2.0 and 3.0, preferably monofilament
  • Surgical gloves, size 6.5, 7 and 7.5 (& some 8) (Note: surgical, not examination)
  • Gauze (preferably sterile), size 7.5cm x 7.5cm (more or less)
  • Ink for tattoos (Ketchum Animal Tattoo Ink)



Wednesday, November 30, 2016

WSD 2016 The Clinic Days


Our World Spay Day 2016 Week Campaña in Havana wrapped up Friday February 26. 
In five days we sterilizations 248 dogs and cats.
On Saturday our mass deparasitization event treated 348. 
Rabies vaccine was administered to all that needed the shot.
 Each of our campañas opens with introductions and orientations.
 Clinic protocols are also outlined.
 Casa Calderone's amphitheatre was the ideal location for our morning meetings.
Veterinary Students are the future for Cuba's animals. 
It is an honour for us to be a small part of crafting that future.
 Dr.Raymond Donavan, from Trinidad & Tobago, spends some time greeting at registration.

Dr.(Russo)Viacheslav Eduardovich Zenkov and Spanky Project's Director of Veterinary Medicine Dr.Michael Belovich guide students through the "sedation and induction" department.
It is always great to have these exchanges of mutual support
Dr.Russo and his team do great work in the province of Matanzas.
We always welcome them to our campañas in Havana.
Our surgical suite had four tables.

For the most part a Cuban Vet and one of our International Team 
members would work together.
Here Dr.Ramond shares some of his "fancy knots" with Dra.Rocio.
Humane traps ready to be deployed.

 Since 2006 the Spanky Project has worked under the umbrella of the Consejo Cientifico Veterinario de Cuba (CCVC). The veterinary council is a Cuban NGO created in 1908.  President of the CCVC, Dra.Beatriz Amaro came by for a visit.




Dra.Nana (in blue) is the Queen of Recovery.
The students love this stop on their rotation.
Despite several efforts to channel her to another department she refuses to leave her "realm".

Dr.Fernado takes some time out to administer some holistic therapy Dra.Nora.

Nora is the Institute of Veterinary Medicine's Director for the City of Havana.
We are grateful to the IMV for the trust they place in us and the support they give us in our work.

In addition to the sterilizations we do hold consultations
 on any concerns caregivers have with their pets
As we begin the day with a group meeting so do we end the day.
The head of each department gives a summary of their day.
The good ... the bad ... the ugly.
We want to hear it all and improve day by day. 

Dr.Leyssan and, final year Veterinary Student , Ernesto 
bottle feed some kittens at the end of the day.



All the hard work all the time and all the expense that goes into making these campañas a reality has a big payoff for me in the simplest of ways.

One day I was out of the clinic for a couple of hour to attend a meeting.
Upon my return I was to that two ladies wanted to meet me.
Their pets had been released earlier from surgery but they stuck around because the wanted to meet "el Jefe" (the boss).
Through a translator they expressed their gratitude and thanks for 
the opportunity and great work are doing.


I also had a gentleman that came up to me with a gift.

He thanked me and gave me a package of cigarettes.

"Gracias señor but I do not smoke"

He paused and said, "take them.... maybe you will start again".

We had a good laugh!!!!

The final event of our officlal program was a mass deparasitization and rabies clinic.
This was held in the streets of Habana Vieja.
Thank you to the Cuban structure known as Zoonosis. 
They provided the rabies vaccine for the whole week.


The last order of business for WSD 2016 Week was the wrap party.
We gathered at the Hotel Conde de Villanueva in the heart of Habana Vieja.


 Looking down on our group I was very moved.
Moved by, how out of the love for a little dog the dream of  project has become a reality.
Thankful for those that have joined us on our path.
The Spanky Project has come a long way since it's beginnings in 2003.

Gracias a todos!

I will leave you with these few minutes from our WSD2016 wrap party.