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Monday, 7 April 2014


We are extremely busy with several activities, and only one person managing the Facebook and this blog. We will try to bring this up to date - please be patient with us and keep checking Facebook Page in a meantime...

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Catching up...

With only one editor/administrator for both Facebook and our blog, we are falling behind with the updates. We are very sorry about that, and hoping that you have got most of APAC news from the Facebook Page.
Anyways, better late than never, here it is - the summary of our (CONBAC/APAC) major activities since the last update on September 7, 2013 until the December 2013 TNR (Trap-Neuter-Return) in Varadero.

September 2013:

1. Jibacoa Beach deparasitation campaign

It was a great event that brought together several volunteers from Cuba and Canada. We have proven that great things happen when people united by the same vision work together. Mayabeque Chapter (Filia) of CCV (Cuban vets association), the Spanky Project, the Agrarian University, Matanzas Filia of CCV, and us - APAC-Varadero spent weeks to organize teams, get permits, distribute supplies. The groups worked in a few locations, including a road-site team that also managed to serve fourteen horses. Altogether, dozens of animals were helped.
Thanks to Susan Tucker from Nova Scotia, who brought us so much needed canopy, we can now offer some help in the areas where no building is available to set up a temporary clinic (or, if the patient is too big to walk in).

Dr. Hanoi with students

Dr. Hanoi Dominguez feeding a horse a dose of medication

Dr. Omar Pena

2. Cardenas spay/neuter clinic (Blue Campaign)
The team has decided that it is time to start the record of the animals spayed and neutered, following the application of a tattoo. Like with all first times, not everything went perfectly well, and more places than just ears ended up with a blue ink Anton was using. Nobody was hurt though, and the next time will be perfect!
Forty dogs and ten cats went home fixed - retiring from producing unwanted off-spring. We try to reward the responsible owners with proper collars and leashes; therefore, we welcome donations of those items - they can be gently used. If you are going to Cuba soon, make sure to put a few in your luggage. Thank you!

Dr. Mayelin
Dr. Hanoi

Well done Team!!!

October 2013

1. Santa Ana spay/neuter clinic
Santa Ana is a poor village about 25 km from Matanzas City. Dr. Yuya, who has a family there, organized a small clinic in her aunts Odalis' house. The doctors (Slavik, Omar, Mariano, Yuya, Yeney and Kiki) spayed 12 dogs on that Saturday morning, and examined a few that needed other help.

Dr. Yusleydis "Yuya" Abreu 

2. Varadero Dolphinarium TNR campaign
This was our first campaign done on request from the government property. Out of 22 resident cats 15 were fixed and marked. The team will need another try for the remaining cats. Staff was very helpful and the day went well. Dr. Hanoi and Dr. Slavik were very busy, with Slavik doing lots of pre-surgical procedures. The day was very successful! We wish the staff of the resorts to be also as helpful and kind to their animals, and we hope that in time - they will...

Dr. Slavik Zenkov and Dr. Hanoi Dominguez

November 2013

Matanzas horse clinic (deparasitation and general check-up)
November 30, 2013 was all about horses. The tent was set in Matanzas, and the team went to work. Thirty horses received general check-up and a de-worming oral medication. This campaign was also a great educational opportunity. There were lots of conversations with the horse owners - about needs and care of their animals. In Cuba, word-of-mouth is the most popular way of spreading news, therefore we hope that after this successful day, more horses will show up at the next campaign.

December 2013

1. Boca de Camarioca spay/neuter clinic
When you travel to any Varadero resort, you have to go through Boca de Camarioca, a town between the international airport and the peninsula. Because of its proximity to Varadero, stray animals may wander to the resorts in search for food. This is why it is important to have regular spay/neuter clinics there - keeping the population of dogs and cats under control.
For the December 7, 2013 campaign the team was offered a government office location, which means that our work is taken seriously by the local authorities.

2. Varadero TNR - cat colony and Barlovento resort
On December 14, 2013, Dailys, Brian and Anton walked through Varadero promoting the sterilization. They found Maria del Carmen and her husband Nelson interested in spaying/neutering the cats from the colony they have been caring for. They also found a lady named Fefita caring for the smaller colony of cats, and willing to fix them.
Three teams of volunteers were set, headed by Dr. Hanoi Dominguez, Dr. Slavik Zenkov and Dr. Yasiel Ponce. By the end of the day 35 cats (and one dog) were sterilized without any complications. Dr. Hanoi returned and released the Barlovento cats after they woke up - and making sure they were all OK. Daylen, one of the volunteers, ended up adopting one of the stray kittens. 
Bryan is a tour guide in Varadero and our great marketing representative!

Dr. Ponce, our regular volunteer

Antonio (Tony) is in charge of supplies. His compassion for animals dates back to his childhood...

"Universal compassion is the only guarantee of morality."
 Arthur Schopenhauer

Saturday, 7 September 2013

Isla - The Story of Love

Ingrid, a Cuban co-ordinator for APAC-Varadero  found a young puppy and her mother sometime in June 2013. They were both homeless Cuban street dogs. Both got spayed and the mother was soon adopted. The puppy stayed with Ingrid. She named her Isla (“island” in Spanish)
Shortly after finding a puppy, it became obvious that there was something wrong with her. She did not walk properly, dragging her hind legs while trying to move around. At first, we all thought it could be due to malnutrition or some kind of injury, and that Isla would heal and improve in time, while given a good veterinary care and Ingrid’s love. Well – she did improve slightly and she was a very lively and a happy puppy, but she did not regain the control of her back legs. We realized we had a problem.

Ingrid with Isla
Little Isla would never be adopted in Cuba. There are no resources to care for a handicapped pet, and even if there were, keeping a crippled dog alive is beyond comprehension for the average Cuban. Ingrid took a puppy to Havana to find out more about Isla’s condition. The x-ray images revealed that Isla’s lumbar vertebrae were abnormal either due to an accident or a congenital defect. It seemed that a surgery might be the only way to fix it. Of course in Cuba, this type of operation on dog is not possible.

We posted about Isla on our Facebook and asked for advice. Within a short period of time, several rescues and individuals offered their help, including a donation of the wheel cart from HART (Humane Animal Rescue Team in Edmonton). Dr. Barry MacEachern (a volunteer doctor of  Hope for Wildlife) who has been involved in APAC’s work in Cuba, offered to arrange a surgery at the Atlantic Veterinary College in PEI - if we could bring Isla to Nova Scotia.

By this time, it was already late August. Most airlines have a heat ban during the summer (meaning no animals can be sent through cargo) as well as size limits for the cabin travel (the kennel has to fit under the seat, 8.5 inch space). Time was in issue as the fear was that Isla may not be operable if left in her condition for too long.
Once again, our friends from CANDi (Cats and Dogs International) and Air Transat came to the rescue. We have been working in partnership with them for three years now, and have saved many animals because of their help. The animals transported on the Air Transat flights are given exceptional care and attention, as the company follows the unique compassionate tourism policy adapted together with  CANDi. Air Transat Cargo staff on the ground also goes the extra mile to make sure the animals transported are safe and comfortable.

At the Varadero Airport
Our little Isla was booked for the last summer flight from Varadero to Montreal, free of charge. The cargo company serving Air Transat in Montreal closes its office at 10 pm, but the airline made sure that someone was available to help with receiving Isla the same evening (the flight was arriving at 9:20 pm). Safe and sound, our little puppy spent an hour in the arms of the Air Transat employee, while our volunteer was dealing with customs and all paperwork. Finally, shortly after 11pm, Isla was free to enter Canada.

Isla with an Air Transat Cargo employee
She spent a night with our volunteer in Montreal and the next day, thanks to help from Pilots N Paws Canada, she flew to Halifax where Dr. Barry MacEachern picked her up. Everybody was impressed with our little Cuban – she has been a perfect dog all the way through her journey. She patiently waited for the flights, was great in a car, slept peacefully and was friendly with all people she met. Everybody loved her.

Volunteer pilot from PNPC with Dr. Barry and Isla in Halifax
Unfortunately, after several tests at the Atlantic Veterinary College, it became obvious that surgery will not help Isla. She was born with only 5 lumbar vertebrae instead of a normal 7, and the surgery cannot change it. She has some control over her leg muscles and the back-end muscles, and she will require a long therapy to get better and be more mobile, including physiotherapy and acupuncture. Dr. Barry MacEachern will make a plan for Isla’s rehabilitation. Isla feels no pain and most likely she does not even realize that there is something wrong with her. She is full of life determined little dog, who brought so many people together – strangers became friends thanks to her. We believe that her determination and confidence are the result of love she has been receiving from the day she was found. Hasn't she been discovered by Ingrid and brought to Canada by our trusted friends, she would be most likely dead by now – kicked around because of her handicap, killed by other homeless dogs, starved slowly due to her limited mobility.

We know that she will receive the best help possible while under Dr. Barry’s care and that one day, she will make a wonderful pet to someone who will deserve her.

Isla with Dr. Barry MacEachern
We are grateful for all help received, especially to CANDi and Air Transat who brought our puppy to Canada, giving her a second chance of life – Darci Galati, Carrie Martin, Pierre Bassene, Javier Ferreiro in Cuba, and Kristine Perez in Montreal (who coordinated the after-hours help for Isla).

Bringing Isla to Canada would not make sense without Dr. Barry MacEachern whose generosity and kindness will now shape her future. We also thank everyone in-between – our volunteer Kiki Cliff who drove from Ottawa to Montreal to pick up our puppy, Judy and Wayne Anderson who offered their help, and to the pilots from Pilots N Paws Canada, who flew our puppy to Halifax – at no cost and after several attempts due to the weather problems.
For those who may ask why we did it all for one dog, the answer is – because we could. Because each life deserves to be saved and protected, because seeing so many people moved and brought together to do something good brings back faith in humanity.

"Perhaps the only failure is a failure to try..." - Deborah Moggach

Monday, 26 August 2013

Jibacoa Beach Project

After lengthy discussions and much planning a ground breaking “pilot” project is about to be launched.
The Jibacoa Beach Project is its name.
The ultimate goal is to humanely control the cat and dog populations on and around hotel properties.We hope to put an end to the killing of stray dog and cat populations.

This is a collaborative effort with the founding partners being:
  • Gran Caribe Hotels
  • Consejo Cientifico Veterinario - Filial Mayabeque
  • Institute of Veterinary Medicine - Mayabeque
  • Agrarian University of Havana - Veterinary Faculty
  • ComisiĆ³n Nacional de Bienestar Animal - Matanzas
  • and Spanky Project with APAC-Varadero

The first step of this project was to conduct a census and survey.
Step two will be mass deworming events to begin September 14, 2013
Step three is sterilization campaƱas of domestic and homeless dog and cat populations.

We look forward to sharing our progress. 
These programs come with a price tag therefore we also look forward to your support.


Isla is a homeless puppy found by Ingird. Shortly after she was found, it had became obvious that she cannot walk on her own - dragging her hind legs while trying to move around. In time, her condition improved slightly thanks to a loving care of Ingrid, who refused to give up on this poor creature. With some help, Isla could stand up on her own for a few seconds, but we were all faced with a big question - what to do next? 

Isla in July 2013
We knew she could not survive in Cuba; therefore, we looked for options in Canada. The response was overwhelming - within days many individuals and organizations offered their help. HART (Humane Animal Rescue Team) in Edmonton donated a wheel-cart for Isla. We are yet to see if she will need it as something else happened - Dr. Barry MacEachern from Nova Scotia (Hope for Wildlife house doctor) has made arrangements for Isla to have a surgery at one of the best veterinary medicine schools in the country - Atlantic Veterinary College in Prince Edward Island.

Here is Dr. Barry's professional statement about Isla's condition:

"Based on the x-rays from Havana we suspect Isla has a birth defect of a malformed lumbar vertebrae.  Currently she has superficial (and therefor deep) pain perception.  She has anal tone and is completely continent both urinary and fecal.  She can stand on her own but does have pro-prioceptive deficits.  The hope is that if we can open up the spinal canal and stabilize the vertebrae then she will improve.  The clinical signs/exam findings provided suggest we can make a difference in this dogs mobility."

So - Isla is coming to Canada. It took a team of people and several organizations to arrange her arrival.  We will tell you more about them all, and about Isla's progress once she is here, and we have a chance to follow her story...
Isla on August 24, 2013

Marti Spay/Neuter Campaign July 20, 2013

Marti is a small town east of Cardenas. It does not have veterinary services, and, just like the rest of Cuba, it is struggling with the overpopulation of homeless animals. The team was asked to organize the clinic there, so people could learn about the proper care of their pets and the benefits of sterilization. Quite a crowd showed up, and the doctors (Dr. Hanoi, Dr. Julio, and Dr. Omar) spent some time explaining the importance of spaying/neutering dogs and cats. They also discussed other animal health issues. The deworming followed, done with the Bayer medications received through Dr. Chan from Havana, and also with APAC’s supplies like Advantage and Revolution donated by our Canadian supporters. During spay/neuter surgeries, doctors discovered some other problems with dogs, and took care of them right away. The locals were impressed with the team and the work done. We are hoping that they will share their experience with the neighbours, and that another request for the clinic will come from Marti soon.

Ingrid - APAC's Executive Assistant

Queue outside the clinic - waiting to register pets for the surgeries

Let's see how much anesthetics will you need...


Dr. Julio - one of the regular volunteer surgeons

The Team of the Marti campaign

Cardenas July 6, 2013 Spay/Neuter Campaign

Massive rain falls flooded the Cardenas clinic and all the preparatory work had to be done twice. Luckily, on the day of the campaign the weather was nice, and the surgeries went well without any interruptions. There were a few homeless dogs taken care of, including our handicapped puppy and her mother. Fifteen cats were also spayed. Thank you Team for your great work.
Isla with her mom

Arriving for the surgery

Dr. Slavik Zenkov at work

Cats in recovery room