Street Dogs

Regina Cano

Photo: Irina Echarry

To leave my area of apartment building in search of the guagua (what buses are called here in Cuba), you have to perform a veritable balancing act walking along the sidewalk.  This is because the so-called street dogs — so accustomed to humans — end up sleeping in the middle of the walkway after their wild nighttime sprees, which means residents have to step over them one at a time.  Everyone in my neighborhood shares in having to deal with this daily.

There are not wild dogs per se, just ones that were born in homes only to later to be tossed out into the street as puppies by their human owners.  Or, in other cases, they’re the leftovers of recently completed housing construction jobs carried out by “micro-brigades,” which brought the animals there and fed them to guard the premises against stealthy thieves.

In my neighborhood, the survivors of those various acts of abandonment form a pack of 20 or 30 dogs that wander around during the night and lay around near my neighborhood by day.

These dogs, which out of hunger have to rummage through the trash in dumpsters and individual garbage cans, are plagued by diverse illnesses (usually mange) and they act as a source of infection for the pets in the homes of many people.

The great majority of these street animals receive food from compassionate residents who at least believe that they’re performing an act of kindness as they try to help out somewhat in the face of this tragic situation.

However many other people are of the opinion that these animals should be reported to an institution called the Zoonosis, whose job it is to pick up and put to sleep these animals, thus ending the sad story.  However the reality is that the cycle constantly repeats itself.

The great majority of people prefer dogs as pets, and they consider themselves animal lovers.

It seems there’s an element in local behavior that doesn’t follow a rational course; or perhaps the daily fabric of life — full of crises and emergencies — doesn’t allow people to draw logical conclusions related to these street dogs.

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Regina Cano

Regina Cano: I have lived my entire life in Havana, Cuba – the island from which I’ve still never left, and which I love. I was born on September 9, and my parents chose my name out of superstition, but my mother raised me outside the religion professed by her family. I studied accounting and finance at the University of Havana, a profession that I’m not engaged in for the time being, and that I substituted for doing crafts, some ceramics, and studying a little English and about painting. Ah! – concerning my picture: I identify with Rastafarian principles, but I am not one of them. I wear this cap from time to time, but I assure you I just didn't have a better picture.

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3 thoughts on “Street Dogs

  • Steps are being made for humane population control of animals in Havana.

    The “comisión de esterilización ” in Habana Vieja has reduced the number of strays.
    Street dogs are rescued .. nursed to health .. sterilized .. adopted loving caregivers.
    Contact Clinica Veterinaria Laika in Habana Vieja.

  • I have visited your beautiful country many times and I still wonder why there is so much social divide even among pets,there are those who are loved so much and those who are totally tormented,starved and kicked endlessly,their suffering caused by the very people who have been so kind,generous and welcoming to us..I have learned not to allow this to taint the memories I have of your unique,resourceful country men and women,and instead always carry with me meal leftovers and at least give those poor creatures a single moment of human kindness….maybe with these new reforms the good hearted animal lovers of Cuba can pressure their own government for changes in this area…My country,Australia also has a long way to go in this issue,but recently I am proud to say the government stopped the sell of live beef to our neighbour Indonesia precisely because that country did not kill the animals in a humane way,there is no place for cruelty in a civilized society,so for us this was a big step in the right direction,hopefully our brothers and sisters animal lovers of Cuba will ask their fellow countrymen to look at their animals with more compassion.Please dont get offended by these comments,as I said even here in Australia we have still a long way to go regarding animal welfare.Cheers,Lilly

  • Regina Cano,
    Thank you for writing about this situation for stray dogs in Havana, Cuba. I can follow your logic that it is an ever repeating cycle of capture by the Zoonosis of stray dogs. This situation impacts negatively on how Cuba is perceived and I for one have heard stories from tourists about the neglect of dogs in Cuba which disgusted them. This man made problem will not solve itself so leadership is needed. Are there any foreign rescue agencies operating in Havana for these street dogs? Regina Cano, are you willing to take the first step in leadership? Let’s start that first step by having a discussion about the problem and let’s contact an expert to help us define the problem. I suggest you contact:

    Mex-Can Pet Partners
    1362 Pembroke Street
    Victoria, B.C. V8R 1V5 Canada
    [email protected]

    I have adopted a dog from this rescue agency and have had a wonderful experience with my new pet (Mosley formerly Jack when in Mexico). They also do education and spay and neutering for dogs. They will have a record of me so should you take that first step and reach out to Mex-Can Pet Partners, please let them know that I referred you so I can also be part of this first step.

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