Irina Echarry

A hopeful experience.

When I first began to write for this website, I published a diary entry about stray dogs.  The problem of the abandonment of our loyal companions continues – so a question tormented me: loyal to whom?

Their one-time owners have left the city full of dogs (many of them sick) that now live in the streets.

To be honest, I believed negligence was an incurable evil rooted deep inside many human beings.  But a recent experience has given me a hope that once again lights up my days.

Nora Garcia is head of the Cuban Association for the Protection of Animals and Plants (ANIPLANT), an organization founded in 1987 by such recognized figures as poetry laureate Jose Zacarias Tallet and ballet director Alicia Alonso, among others.

Waiting in line to vaccinate their dogs and cats.

She was contacted by a group of young people for her advice on how we could address the difficult task of aiding society’s most vulnerable – in this case animals (though there’s also the prospect of creating a plant nursery).

I won’t spend too much time on Nora, though someday I’ll interview her so the readers of Havana Times will learn of her zeal and dedication.  I’ll only say she is a persistent, dynamic and sensitive woman.

Thanks to her, we organized a “day against parasites” for cats and dogs in an outlying neighborhood south of the capital.

Though we put up posters on the street publicizing the activity, uncertainty made us its prey at one moment; we found ourselves asking “what if nobody showed up?”

Felipe vaccinates a dog.

On Saturday, January 30, the appointed starting time was 10:00 a.m., but by 9:30 in the morning some 30 canines had already been vaccinated.

In all, almost 200 cats and dogs patiently passed through the line —some braver than others— to be attended by the veterinarian, Felipe, a true Good Samaritan.

Dog lover.

Through that line passed everyone from fervent pet lovers to a few people who organized dog fights.  The pets were of all breeds and every size, with some of these canines more obedient than others.

But the best of that day was seeing how area residents turned out with their pets and then went searching for other dogs that didn’t have owners – those that lived under corner kiosks, around schools or in building entrances.

Boys, girls, grown-ups…everyone got involved in the task of promoting a better existence for those animals.

Residents went searching for other dogs that didn’t have owners.

Some give them food, others let them sleep in their garages, and many others felt the delight of seeing their neighbors doing something good.

Perhaps love is contagious… Let’s hope several more efforts take place to promote this type of response by people in the city.

More associations, initiatives and individuals are needed to guide and support those who have a desire to help animals but don’t know how to or don’t have the means individually.

Click on the thumbnails below to view all the images included in this post


Irina Echarry

Irina Echarry: I enjoy reading, going to the movies and spending time with my friends. Many of the people I love are dead, or are no longer in Cuba. I will do my best to transmit my thoughts, ideas or worries via these pages so you can get to know me. I will give an idea of my age, since it helps explain certain things. I’m over thirty-five, and I think that’s enough information. I don’t have any children yet, or nieces or nephews. There are days when I transform myself into a child with no age at all in order to see life from another angle. It helps me break the monotony and survive in this strange world.

3 thoughts on “Negligence: A Curable Evil

  • Thank you for this article, Irina! Hope you can do the article on Nora Garcia and the Cuban Association for the Protection of Animals and Plants soon, since it might generate some $$$ and volunteers for that organization.
    I’d like to share a story from Lonely Planet’s unofficial “Thorntree Site”, Cuban Branch, of some years back: A tourist from my country fell in love with one of these homeless dogs. It was so small she was able to fit it into one of her carry-on bags and, blithly ignoring all international travel regulations, she managed to get it , undetected, onto her Cubana flight from Habana to Mexico City, and onward to Tiajuana. Once there, she continued with the dog, still in her bag, picked up her car, and was able to drive home to San Diego, California, where this lucky little Habana Vieja street dog lives today!

  • Thank you sistah for this article and being as this is the first time i have ever addressed such an issue i wanted to share something which happened to me before coming to Haiti..i was walking home one day after a workout and a car pulled along side of me and asked if i wanted a puppy. i told the man no and he just opened his door and dropped the cutest mini chihahua out to the ground and drove away. I looked down and could see the sheer fright in the little (fullgrown) dogs eyes and as i gently picked him up and stroked him he seemed to relax. i took him to my home and noticed that the dog had a broken leg..This alarmed me so i immediately got into mty car and drove to the vet.
    When i arrived i told the sec what happened and he told me that the leg was an old fracture and noone had ever had it set..OH! the pain the dog must have suffered. i asked if i could have the dog and the vet said that i could but i had to fill out the pAper wrk..Now Milagro is my dog, and the horses love him

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