Like their owners, pets also leave Cuba

Like their owners, pets also leave Cuba

HAVANA, Nov 17. The Cuban authorities have granted more than 2,000 certificates so that the same number of pets can reunite with their emigrated owners so far in 2023, one more expression of the historic exodus that the Island is experiencing, which has led around half a million people to leave the country in the last three years.

According to statements to the Reuters agency by the specialist from the Cuban National Center for Animal Health, María Gloria Vidal, this figure is double the authorizations granted in 2022.

The document that authorizes dogs, cats and other pets to travel is called a pet export health certificate, explained the official, who assured that the practice of exporting pets continues to grow.

“Many people think that there is some complication on the part of the competent veterinary authority of Cuba, and that is not the case. We have always had that willingness to work,” she told Reuters.

The United States, the main destination for Cuban migrants, allows those who enter the country legally to be accompanied by their pets, but the process is complicated because the Island appears on the list of countries with a high risk of canine rabies, based on numerous cases of that disease reported by official authorities.

Since Cuba does not have a U.S.-certified laboratory, Vidal told Reuters, rabies blood tests must be sent to that country for analysis.

Nathalie Osorio, an activist with the Cubans in Defense of Animals (CEDA) collective, told Reuters that she has helped facilitate the travel of more than 150 pets.

“There was a lot of ignorance at the beginning about the procedures, it has been very cumbersome,” said Osorio, who helped Cuban migrant Karolina Vázquez reunite with her dogs Bingo and Sasha in the United States.

“Many of the immigrants still cannot come and get their pets and so they have to rely on third parties to get them to them,” she added.

“We have helped get them to their family and we have even helped puppies that have been alone in an apartment (…) that only a distant relative goes, gives them food and leaves,” said the activist. “It really has been (and is) very gratifying. Very gratifying,” she acknowledged.

In 2022 alone, according to official US figures, more than 313,000 Cubans arrived in that country irregularly, by land and sea. Since January 2023, when Washington approved the humanitarian parole granting program, through which residents on the Island legally emigrate to the northern nation, some 57,000 Cubans have been approved.

Although in smaller quantities, a non-negligible figure is also found in countries such as Spain, Mexico or Uruguay.