A growing number of Cubans are getting serious about pushing for animal rights protections in the country.
In the past, the subject was often considered unworthy of serious debate against the backdrop of Cuba’s geo-political and socio-economic challenges. But people like Dalia Jimenez want to build a new awareness of animals.
Jimenez makes daily visits to a park in Old Havana where she feeds and de-worms abandoned cats. Speaking to Reuters, she says with sadness that it is common for domestic animals to find themselves left on the streets.
“It’s not as though they just turn up, but people abandon them here. Some stay, others don’t. Some are terrified because a house cat who has had a good education, who is disciplined, sees this and becomes affected. Here they (animals) encounter violence. Nobody wants them here.”
Animal activists have blamed the deterioration of the state-backed system of vets for the number of stray dogs and cats. And the rise in homeless animals in search of food has fuelled reports of animal abuse.
Milagros Gonzalez runs an animal shelter in Havana, where she takes in abused and injured dogs. Gonzalez admitted the problem is too big for her handle alone.
“I would like to adopt them all, but I can’t. I give priority to the most critical cases, animals who have been run over, animals who are suffering from malnutrition. I have to choose. I bring in those who are most in need.”
According to animal activist, Grettel Montes de Oca, having the country’s animal rights movement protected by law will further help to strengthen changing attitudes.
“A law is vital, it is urgent because it is the only way to start. It’s a way to start and stop many of the injustices that are committed daily. It is the only way we have to report animal abuse.”
Currently, Cuba is without laws to protect animals. But this situation may soon change. This week, Cuba’s National Assembly said they would present a law on animal welfare in November 2020.