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Two Burnaby residents raised $900 for veterinary supplies
By Janaya Fuller-Evans, Burnaby Now March 19, 2011

For the animals: From left to right: Fernando Gispert, municipal
veterinary director Guadalupe Ramos, Anne-Marie Nagata and Charlotte Sedens.
Photograph by: Susana Hurlich, SPECIAL TO THE BURNABY NOW

A trip to made two Burnaby residents more aware of how differently
animals are treated in other parts of the world.

Up until the past twenty years or so, there were only veterinarians
available for agricultural animals in Cuba, according to Charlotte
Sedens, who recently returned after visiting the country.

“People in North America consider their pets to be a part of their
family, however, that is not the case for everyone in Cuba right now,”
Sedens explained in an email. “Dr. Gispert (who works with Clinica
Veterinaria Laika in Havana) told us that up until 1989 vets were not
even trained in school to practice on small animals such as cats and
dogs as they were thought of as a commodity for the rich.”

Sedens and Anne-Marie Nagata visited Old Havana to donate supplies to
the clinic on Dec. 4.

The pair raised $900 through clients and staff of the Burnaby Veterinary
Hospital, and family and friends, to buy supplies for the clinic before
leaving for their vacation.

Representatives from Pfizer Canada, Vetoquinol Canada Inc., and Novartis
Pharmaceuticals Inc. also helped them purchase and gather the supplies,
according to Sedens.

Sedens came across a website based in Prince Edward County, Ont. – the
Spanky Project – prior to the trip and decided to raise funds to buy
supplies to help veterinarians spay, neuter and provide medical
attention to stray dogs in Cuba.

The Spanky Project, run by Terry Shewchuk, raises supply donations to
help dogs, cats and horses in Cuba.

Dr. Fernando Gispert, of Clinica Veterinaria Laika, is in charge of the
project in Havana.

After arriving in Cuba, Sedens and Nagata booked a tour of Havana, two
hours from their resort in Veradero.

Once in Havana, the pair separated from the tour and met with their
contact, Susana Hurlich, who served as their translator, according to

They were taken to the clinic, a small three-room building in Old
Havana, where they spent about two hours. The facilities were clean and
well maintained, though small, Sedens said.

“Most of the time was spent informing us on the sterilization initiative
and the Spanky Project,” Sedens said. “We also learned that the clinic
also initiates several other programs.”

Through the sterilization initiative, dogs are nursed to health over a
30-day period before being spayed or neutered, and after recovering are
put up for adoption.

According to Sedens, every three months a group of Canadian
veterinarians goes down to Cuba and performs the sterilizations.

Since the project began four years ago, 273 animals have been
sterilized, she said, adding that none were released back on the streets.

The clinic estimates that the amount of stray dogs in Old Havana has
decreased by at least 50 per cent in the last four years, Sedens.

Nagata, who had visited Havana in 2003, said the number of street dogs
had decreased dramatically since she had last been there.

Sedens, who graduated from Simon Fraser University in April, is a
volunteer at the Vancouver Aquarium and for the Wildlife Rescue
Association of B.C.

Nagata works at the Burnaby Veterinary Hospital and recently graduated
from nursing school.

She chose Cuba as a destination because she had been there nine
or 10 years ago, and really enjoyed it.

“Animals area huge part of both of our lives,” she said. She and Sedens
became friends in high school.

The pair is arranging to deliver the supplies they could not take with
them to the Spanky Project, for someone else to take to Cuba.

For more information on the Spanky Project, go to www.spankyproject.org.


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