Friday, January 19, 2018

The Future Is Now!

On this September morning our Spanky Project Team assembled 
near the lancha (ferry) docks in Habana Vieja.
With representation from France, The Netherlands, Turkey, USA, Canada and Cuba 
we were truly an international team.
Before hitting the road Audrey Mabie, president of 
handed out some stylish scrub tops.
Our first surgical day was not at our Havana home base, Quinta de los Molinos.
 We were headed to San Jose de las Lajas now home to the veterinary school.

A point of interest, until 1976 the veterinary school was located across from Quinta de los Molinos .
After overcoming car issues with Cuban ingenuity and 
Claudia's "encouragement"
we were back on the road.
A 30km drive brought us to the Province of Mayabeque 
and it capital San Jose de las Lajas.
Here, we were met by students of the 
Facultad de Medicina VeterinariaUniversidad Agraria de La Habana
and the student group... 
Veterinarios for la Protección y Bienestar Animal


In their own words....
The VESPA group is based at the Agrarian University of Havana (UNAH) and is made up of students and professors who advocate for Animal Welfare. We carry out mass sterilization campaigns and free deparisitizations  in different locations in the Mayabeque province. We have a shelter in which we welcome a limited number of animals due to the characteristics of the building of the place, among other limitations. With some of these dogs we perform assisted therapy for children with special needs in a school in San José, this activity is recognized nationally.
Our main task is to educate the community in general about Animal Welfare and the importance of this for sustainable development. And try to change the world of more than one animal, we speak for those who have no voice, but who like us suffer and feel.
All of our sterilization campañas have the participation of veterinary students.
They are the future and we are honoured to work with them on their home turf.
With limited supplies available in Cuba teaching opportunities like this have been limited.
Until recently veterinary schools had focused on beasts of burden and food production.
Still much of the practical, small and companion animal, education takes place outside of the curriculum.
In mini campaña like this and our mass campañas in Havana.

This mini-campaña was held outdoors at an athletic complex.
From the intake exam..
through surgery..
.. to recovery this was a student run campaña.
A big thank you to Dr.Slavik Zenkov (left) and
Dr.Rayko Calimano (red).
They both work with VESPA on an ongoing basis.
Both join in on our campañas in Havana.
Note: Blandine and Claudia (on the left) with their new scrub tops thanks to Audrey (right).
Stylin' the scrub!
Dr.Natacha Nuñez, Vice Dean, holds court with the local media.
Here is a news report from our visit in 2011.

In 2003 the Spanky Project was born. 
The first Cuban veterinarian we met was Dr.Joemel Betancourt.
He is a graduate of the veterinary school in San Jose.
Now living In Qatar,  and as good fortune would have it,  in Cuba during our September campaña.
He joined us and the veterinary students.
It was great to reunite with "Dr.Joe".
We are increasing our support for the VESPA group.
On March 3 we will be back in San Jose.
At that time will share some exciting news with them.
When we return we will share it with you.

Help us help them.

The future is now!
Donate Now Through!

Saturday, December 30, 2017

Beat The Clock!!!

Donate Now Through!
We thank you for your support in 2017

With your aid we:
 sterilized 570 dog/cats
 dewormed nearly 300 horses
deparasitized hundred of pets
worked side by side with Cuba's veterinary students
worked towards a better future for Cubans and their animals

You made a difference in 2107 and can again in 2018.

Hey Canada...
Your tax credit may entitle you to receive as much as 53% of your donation back at tax time. Calculate your tax credit below!

If you’ve never claimed tax credits before, this is your last year to super-size your tax credit! You will receive a one-time, additional 25% tax credit of up to $1,000!

Our supporters in the USA can play Beat The Clock also
 donate to Spanky Project USA 
a 501(c) (3) non-profit

¡Feliz Año Nuevo!
Happy New Year!
The Year Of The Dog
Help us kick start 2018!
Join us in helping Cubans help their animals.

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.

Donate Now Through!

Sunday, October 22, 2017

Calm After The Storm

The original plan was to arrive in Havana September 27 for our sterilization Campaña scheduled for October 2 -5.
With hurricane Irma hitting areas of Cuba hard it was decided to head down a week early.
We put out a call for support and you came through.
Pain control, antibiotic, anti-parasitics were the core of the supplies.
Also syringes, needles and shampoos.

Loaded with hurricane relief supplies purchased with a flash fundraiser we flew in a week early.
Upon arrival one of our bags was marked for secondary inspection.
All bags entering Cuba are scanned before reaching the baggage carousel.
"MX" alerts the inspector to look for medicines.
If you have an "AX" on your tag they are looking for food.
We were secure in the fact we would enter without issue.
None of our supplies were restricted or prohibited.
Also, the weight of our medications was under the 7kg limit for duty free entry.
Spanky Project is well known at Jose Marti Airport both with Customs and the Veterinarians so that made for a smooth exit.
Havana was eerily calm.
Yes it was low season but obviously many had canceled their visits.
 The Malecon, seaside drive, was closed.
 Dr. Zeynep Guleryuzlu dare not cross the line 
for fear of being whistled off by the military on guard.
 Irma's storm surge flooded blocks into the Vedado district and affected other areas.
 Vegetation in the Prado area was killed off.
Havana weathered the storm better than other areas of Cuba.
Our Havana team reported that our furry friends had fared well.
Sad to say the human side had their loses.
The third story of a already deteriorated building collapsed onto a bus killing three.

As the week progressed Havana regained it's vigor ..

 ... and life returned to normal.
Normal for us in Havana includes ...
... meetings.

The Sociedad Patrimonio, Comunidad y Medio Ambiente (SPCMA) is an NGO operating under the Oficina del Historiador.
They are the collaborating Cuban structure coordinating our activities.
Visas, import permits, permissions and activity locations are just a few administrative activities they manage.
A huge thank you to Martha Oneida Pérez Cortés - SPCMA President
Dr.Zeynep - Turkish veterinarian Team Spanky
 Martha - President SPCMA
Terry Shewchuk -Founding Director Spanky Project
Audrey Mabie - President Spanky Project USA

Going forward we are working on a program called the 
"Urban Animal Management Plan".
It's a pilot project being developed in Habana Vieja.
Also we are developing the 
Cuban Disaster -Veterinary Relief, Recovery and Support Program.
The future is bright for Cubans helping their animals.
We need your to help secure the future.

For Canadians a tax receipt will be issued for online donations at
and for cheques mailed to...
Spanky Project
Box 6136
Picton ON  K0K 2T0
We ask that donations from around the globe use the above information.
EXCEPT for those in the USA. 
A tax receipt will be issued for online donations to
or for checks mailed to

Spanky Project USA
2823 Colorado St
Long Beach, CA 90814