HAVANA TIMES — There’s been a scandal on my block for days now, Mochita and Nina, two female dogs who live at the chocolate factory are all worked up; it’s May, you know the drill. Male dogs come to blows, bark, chase after the new one who comes along following the females’ scent. All of them are exposed to dangers on the street: cars, buses that stop at or leave bus stops, etc. People on my block aren’t getting any rest.
Last Thursday, things took a special turn. Some boss from the factory arrived in his car and when he saw how many dogs were at the entrance, he ordered for them to call Zoonosis. We all know what that means: strychnine. Dogs picked up by this “death truck” reach Zoonosis or a Health center… and after 48-72 hours without any food, water, some fighting with each other because of stress, others suffering from a disease, those who don’t have anyone to reclaim them are injected. Strychnine-induced death is extremely painful; animals have seizures for more than 30 minutes. It’s terrible.
Faced with this situation, we needed to isolate the females so the males would disperse and Zoonosis wouldn’t find many once they came. That’s what happened.
Result: the female dogs are in my apartment. This week, they’ll be sterilized and then I’ll only be able to have them for ten more days while they recover; but that’s all I can do. I live in a fifth floor apartment, the rest of my family who live with me don’t allow any more animals at home, plus I already have three we saved from the street in previous years.
Some neighbors stare at me in fright, others hide their grins or mocking smiles. “What’s happened now?” one of them asked, as if we weren’t all complicit with what was happening on the block, as if the scandal wasn’t disturbing everyone’s peace and quiet. I can’t get my head around people listening to the barking, fights or howling, cars having to put the brakes on sharply, and something not tightening within their chests.
Helping animals would seem like a whim and not a responsibility here; it’s all of our duty although the majority are completely unfazed. Recognizing Zoonosis as “the ones responsible for dogs” is much easier, not thinking about the abuse they suffer as soon as they are captured. Defending “the natural” is more comfortable when we see a female dog on the street and in heat. Opening the door for the male dog to go out after her is more comfortable, as is beating him when he sits on the stairs.
The method used by Zoonosis should stop. It’s proven that the capture-sacrifice way of doing things, besides being horrible, hasn’t brought good results. The focus only on human health excluding any concern for animals needs to be revised. If all the money spent by Zoonosis for gasoline and other resources to detain and kill the dogs was used for sterilization campaigns, little by little the problem of street animals would diminish.
However, we could do much more, for us and for them, by not only thinking of ourselves.
We need a law that punishes humans’ dreadful behavior. A law which, in combination with sterilization and educational campaigns, helps us to come out of this predicament where concepts are confused and abuse becomes second nature. Cuban society is sinking into absolute chaos and it is sucking in “humans” and animals at the same time. However, we could do so much, for ourselves and for them, all we have to do is put our ego to one side.
The most pressing thing we need to do is to take apart the myths we have about animals; the ones that perpetuate violence, cruelty and are fed by legends, judgements, stories or popular sayings. This is vital because when a law is established, we will be better prepared to abide and respect it.
Nina and Mochita are two wonderful dogs, they behave very well in spite of not knowing who I am and not being used to being locked up in a home. They are adults, about a year and a half/two years old. After the operation, they will be ready to find a family to take them in. They can’t stay at the factory, food production centers don’t allow pets. The lives of these female dogs will always be in danger. You can change that; help them. Open up the doors of your home or help to spread this message.