The Story Of Rango


A vacation by definition is an extended period of recreation, especially one spent away from home or traveling.  When booking our vacation to a tropical destination, visions of sun, surf and sand danced in our heads.   Balancing our hart commitments on top of demanding professions, family and friend obligations, life maintenance and other interests and hobbies can be difficult at times.  The hectic pace of our lives combined with the compassion fatigue that we have recently been feeling from 10 solid years of rescue activity had us looking forward to stepping away from our everyday. 

With a trusted dog sitter at home and coverage for hart and professional responsibilities, we set of for Cuba with our dive gear in hand. 

Cuba is a tropical paradise with charming people, a colorful history and an economic and governance system that differs from ours, and as such provides a real life learning opportunity.   Unfortunately, a global problem that Cuba is not immune from is street dogs.  Can you guess where I am going with this?  Yes, indeed the dog rescuers from Canada wanting to get away from it all met a friendly, but ill, perrito. 

This perrito (Spanish for "little dog") changed the course of our vacation.  As soon as we met him, we knew we needed to help him.  Like many of the dogs that we help in our own backyard, he was on the thin side and was suffering from a severe case of mange.  So a cooperative and international effort started for Rango. 

With the assistance of our new Cuban friend Belkys, we were able to find out what it takes to gain medical clearance from the provincial vet (Government Agency) and how it works to move a dog through Cuban customs.  We worked with an airline representative in terms of flight requirements both in Cuba and Canada.  Our plan was hatched to transport Rango (we arranged a private car for the hour trek) to his medical check with the provincial vet, knowing that he would not gain clearance for the flight because he was too mangey, but we could get started on his meds.

hart had assisted in rehoming efforts of Bella, another Cuban dog that was transported to Canada just a couple of years ago, so at the same time as we started with tracing those contacts back and as a result met with Ingrid from APAC. 

APAC is a not for profit registered Canadian society that helps Cubans to control the overpopulation of homeless animals through spay/neuter clinics and public education.  Talking to Ingrid was like talking to a hart volunteer, just with a Spanish accent.  APAC (blog:, FB: is a volunteer organization that is funded by donations from members and friends.  Ingrid's compassion for dogs, her commitment to implementing a humane solution to the overpopulation problem and her respect for the dogs were so familiar.  It's like we weren't even on vacation!

Rango was set to stay with Belkys and her family until Ingrid could take over and foster Rango until he was healthy enough to gain his flight clearance. Our great plan that took place over two continents and involved a handful of people was not to be however. Rango dissappeared the day before our appointment with the vet and we spent the rest of the trip wandering aimlessly trying to locate him. Belkys and the staff of the resort are still on alert and will work with Ingrid if our little guy returns as we are still personally committed to helping our perrito Rango.  Needless to say, when the end of our vacation came, it broke our hearts to drive to the airport.

In planning a break from our regular lives, we were reminded why we spend so much time on stray/abandoned dogs - because they have no voice and no way to change their conditions so we must help take this action for them.  We were also introduced to a group of like minded individuals at APAC. 

If you or anyone you know is planning a Cuban vacation, please contact  Perhaps you would have room in your suitcase to transport much needed supplies or perhaps you would like to volunteer while you are on vacation?  

Written by Lyndsay hart at 00:00
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