Saving a Dog

The La Puntilla coast where I found the puppy.

By Irina Pino

HAVANA TIMES – My walks are sacred to me. I wake up every day before 7 AM to go for a walk on La Puntilla beach. Two weeks ago, I heard some pitiful howling coming from the coast on my way home.

The place used to be so beautiful, but it’s become a real dump for over 15 years. After the shopping mall was built, the construction company left remainders of concrete blocks, rebar and loose wires. Add to this all of the garbage that people who come to lurk around here leave behind.

Followers of African religions regularly contaminate the area, they throw fruit into the sea and sacrifice doves and chickens. The sea brings everything back, as is natural; then come the turkey vultures who take on the job of cleaning up all this garbage.

Unexpected surprise

Let me tell you that when I walked down, moving around the dump, I saw a beautiful white pup with black spots. I guessed somebody had abandoned him. I don’t understand how people are capable of committing such evil deeds.

It was going to be hard for that little animal to get out of there; plus, the sun is relentless all day long. I’m sure he would have got hurt or died from starvation.

Trying to pick him up, he first bared all of his teeth, then he ran away and hid under the nooks. It wasn’t easy to catch him, I was there trying for a good while, until I finally managed to get a hold of him. The poor thing didn’t stop shaking.

When I got to my apartment, I gave him food and water, which he barely touched. But then he got excited and began to investigate every corner in the house. He immediately kept himself busy by playing with an empty bottle of pills.

It was impossible for me to keep the puppy, because I have an adult cat, and both of them living together wasn’t going to be easy.

An animal rights defender and friend told me that I should take photos of him, so I could advertise him via RECPA.

RECPA, animal rights organizations and a report

RECPA, Cuban network of Anonymous Defenders, rescues stray animals who have been abandoned, taking them into their own homes, or finding transit homes, until they can find an adoptive family. An effort that highlights the love and compassion they have for these helpless beings.

Photos and stories about these orphans are posted on their Facebook page, every day. Communication flows to try and get them medicine, food, transport and any other help they need.

Like PAC and CEDA, this organization works with the help of donations from within Cuba, and foreign collaborators. ANIPLANT is the only organization officially recognized by the Government.

In spite of the pandemic, and restictions on donations arriving from abroad, a lot of effort has gone into keeping these little animals alive.

It was striking to see a news report on Cuban TV last Saturday, that praised the first adoption fair as a nod to October 4th, World Animal Day.

Supported by the Young Communist League (UJC) and the University Student Federation (FEU), the event took place in Parque Almendares, in Havana.

The media gave the event great coverage, with interviews with the public, and especially with the students involved.

But let’s be honest with each other, this fair isn’t the first one of its kind, of course, animal rights organizations have launched mass sterilization campaigns for free for years, including adoptions.

It’s worth pointing out that the news report left these groups out, as if they didn’t exist. When they deserve all the respect in the world for the work that they do.

Cuban animal rights advocates have marched in favor of those who don’t have a voice; they even sat in front of Zoonosis (a stray animal collection center) to try and save them from death by Strychnine injection, which is the method they use to put them down.

They advocated for an Animal Protection Act, for years. Even though, Decree-Law no. 31 of Animal Wellbeing was recently passed, it still isn’t being implemented.

Many puppies, including newborns, are thrown into the garbage, or left anywhere, exposed to accidents and disease.

Those responsible for abandoning them are not punished, not even fined. Abuse and apathy towards animals continue to be common evils in our society.


The puppy found a family in the end, after being requested by people in different Havana municipalities. He now lives in Guanabacoa with a couple and their daughter.

I’ve never had experience with dogs before, but I asked animal rights defenders for advice and noted down the information of his new owners, because I didn’t have the responsible adoption form on hand. Expecting that he is returned to me, if they pull out.

I have followed his progress, and I was surprised when I heard they called him Reina, because he’s a girl and I had no idea. She’ll be vaccinated and dewormed soon.

I only had her for two days, and I can still remember her barking and games, the puddles of pee all over the living room, and how she liked to sleep under the furniture.

My greatest happiness is knowing that she is alive and loved.

Read more from Irina Pino here on Havana Times.

3 thoughts on “Saving a Dog

  • Irina writes articles which are often melancholic and illustrate much of the reality of life in Cuba without the need to express overt political content.
    Having said this, I cannot help being somewhat cynical about events that are ‘supported by the UJC and the FEU’ as I was previously a student in Cuba and I am familiar with how these organisations work, but if the dog’s happy…….
    then we should all be happy huh?

    I cracked a smile reading this piece – Thanks Irina.

  • I rescued a pup from a shelter here in San Francisco, California during the pandemic. It was the best decision I’ve made in awhile. I love his funny dog faces and how he tries to get treats by looking sad.
    That’s so wonderful you didn’t give up on catching him/her 🙂 so glad she found a home.

  • That’s a very nice tale! Thanks for sharing the timely, happy story.

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