A vacation by definition is an extended period of recreation,
especially one spent away from home or traveling. When
booking our vacation to a tropical destination, visions of sun,
surf and sand danced in our heads. Balancing our hart
commitments on top of demanding professions, family and friend
obligations, life maintenance and other interests and hobbies can
be difficult at times. The hectic pace of our lives combined
with the compassion fatigue that we have recently been feeling from
10 solid years of rescue activity had us looking forward to
stepping away from our everyday.
With a trusted dog sitter at home and coverage for hart and
professional responsibilities, we set of for Cuba with our dive
gear in hand.
Cuba is a tropical paradise with charming people, a colorful
history and an economic and governance system that differs from
ours, and as such provides a real life learning
opportunity. Unfortunately, a global problem that Cuba
is not immune from is street dogs. Can you guess where I am
going with this? Yes, indeed the dog rescuers from Canada
wanting to get away from it all met a friendly, but ill,
This perrito (Spanish for "little dog") changed the course of
our vacation. As soon as we met him, we knew we needed to
help him. Like many of the dogs that we help in our own
backyard, he was on the thin side and was suffering from a severe
case of mange. So a cooperative and international effort
started for Rango.
With the assistance of our new Cuban friend Belkys, we were able
to find out what it takes to gain medical clearance from the
provincial vet (Government Agency) and how it works to move a dog
through Cuban customs. We worked with an airline
representative in terms of flight requirements both in Cuba and
Canada. Our plan was hatched to transport Rango (we arranged
a private car for the hour trek) to his medical check with the
provincial vet, knowing that he would not gain clearance for the
flight because he was too mangey, but we could get started on his
hart had assisted in rehoming efforts of Bella, another Cuban
dog that was transported to Canada just a couple of years ago, so
at the same time as we started with tracing those contacts back and
as a result met with Ingrid from APAC.
APAC is a not for profit registered Canadian society that helps
Cubans to control the overpopulation of homeless animals through
spay/neuter clinics and public education. Talking to Ingrid
was like talking to a hart volunteer, just with a Spanish
accent. APAC (blog: http://apacvaradero.blogspot.ca/,
is a volunteer organization that is funded by donations from
members and friends. Ingrid's compassion for dogs, her
commitment to implementing a humane solution to the overpopulation
problem and her respect for the dogs were so familiar. It's
like we weren't even on vacation!
Rango was set to stay with Belkys and her family until Ingrid
could take over and foster Rango until he was healthy enough to
gain his flight clearance. Our great plan that took place over two
continents and involved a handful of people was not to be however.
Rango dissappeared the day before our appointment with the vet and
we spent the rest of the trip wandering aimlessly trying to locate
him. Belkys and the staff of the resort are still on alert and will
work with Ingrid if our little guy returns as we are still
personally committed to helping our perrito Rango. Needless
to say, when the end of our vacation came, it broke our hearts to
drive to the airport.
In planning a break from our regular lives, we were reminded why
we spend so much time on stray/abandoned dogs - because they have
no voice and no way to change their conditions so we must help take
this action for them. We were also introduced to a group of
like minded individuals at APAC.
If you or anyone you know is planning a Cuban vacation, please
Perhaps you would have room in your suitcase to transport much
needed supplies or perhaps you would like to volunteer while you
are on vacation?