Question: I just got back from Santa Lucia and I found a deserted puppy on the beach that I would like to bring from Cuba to Canada. How do I do this?
Answer: There seems to be an increasing desire on the part of overseas visitors to adopt a homeless Cuban dog or cat. As in all countries, Cuba has requirements that must be fulfilled for taking animals out of the country – and of course Canada has another set of requirements for bringing them into the country.
On the Cuban end, there are two non-governmental organizations that have occasionally assisted overseas visitors who wish to adopt an animal and take it home with them. One is the Asociación Cubana para la Protección de Animales y Plantas (ANIPLANT, or the Cuban Association for the Protection of Animals and Plants), a national organization dedicated to animal protection and sterilization campaigns. They don’t have a website but below is the address of their headquarters in Havana and the email address of their president, Nora García Pérez.
Principe #128, e/ Espada y Hospital, Centro Habana, Ciudad de La Habana, Cuba – Email firstname.lastname@example.org
The other organization is the Asociación Protectora de Animales en Cuba (APAC or the Association for the Protection of Animals in Cuba). Based in Varadero, their main objective is to help fight the overpopulation of homeless companion animals in the Varadero area through sterilization clinics and education, as well as encouraging Cubans to adopt and care for street animals. And they, too, occasionally help visitors from abroad who want to adopt a stray dog or cat. You can contact their blog at www.apacvaradero.blogspot.com for more information about their work as well as for names, email addresses and telephone numbers.
It is also important to note that some Cuban organizations consider that the overseas adoption “business” is getting out of hand and is taking too much valuable time away from the important task of ensuring the wellbeing of dogs and cats within Cuba. Many Cuban organizations exist that are dedicated to the wellbeing of companion animals within Cuba, and are concerned that many of their efforts and programs are seriously limited by the general lack of materials and supplies that exist within the country.
If you are interested in exploring ways in which you can support these efforts, you might want to contact the Spanky Project, a Canadian non-governmental organization that since 2003 has been assisting animal well-being programs in Cuba. In particular, the Spanky Project has supported numerous mass sterilization and deparasitation campaigns with Cuban veterinary organizations and clinics, and has also helped foster exchange programs between Canadian and Cuban veterinarians. For more information, you can consult their blog at www.spankyproject.blogspot.com or write directly to the founder and director, Terry Shewchuk, at email@example.com