Wednesday, 28 January 2009


Mr Eurodog sent me a picture of stray dogs in Tbilisi (Georgia) with the caption : « Something for your blog ».
From an innocent photograph a whole world of horror unfolds. Yes, we can read a book much loved by young children called Lizzie, The Diplomatic Dog in Tbilisi, Georgia by Leah Moorefield. It tells the story of Lizzie who travels to new parts of the world every two or three years with her owner who is an American diplomat. Arriving at their new post in Tbilisi, Georgia, Lizzie must begin a new life. She quickly makes friends with other dogs, visits a cave city, explores the historical centre at night, and has many other adventures. When her owner is ready to move on, Lizzie must decide if she will go with her, or escape and stay in Tbilisi with her new friends.
Reality, however, is less romantic.
According to Anik Otieva, a journalist for the Brosse Street Journal, the on-line publication of the Caucasus School of Journalism and Media Management, Georgia leads the world in the number of people vaccinated against rabies thanks to an American aid program. The number of people bitten by dogs in Tbilisi has dramatically increased in recent years. Some 48 000 cases have been reported. There are no official statistics on how many stray dogs Tbilisi has, and there is no public pound/shelter for them. The question of how to deal with stray dogs and protect public health has been debated for years. The City of Tbilisi is paying each local district a monthly sum of USD $1,000 to 1,200 for a street dog control program. The municipality placed the problem of the stray dogs on each of its sub-departments: local district governments and the Housing and Communal departments. They in turn, in order to remove the dogs from the districts, hire sanitary cleaning organisations, whose main priority is garbage collecting. The dogs are captured by iron pliers that instantly breaks the dog’s backbone, according to some sources. Then the wounded dogs are taken to a special place be "isolated." Killed or exterminated is a better word. This is done by means of shooting, electrocuting or burning them in concentrated acid in a baker's pit. These pits were invented for big cities to destroy animal carcasses and to provide a quick death to prevent the spread of disease. These methods have been used for 15 years, because of a lack of resources to build a proper shelter for the outcast animals. Organisations that aim to protect animal rights in Georgia, such as the Animal Protection Charity Foundation "Argus" and Veterinarians Without Borders, consider the methods used to dispose of street dogs cruel and a violation of animal rights. They have suggested proper shelters should be build so that dogs could receive proper care. Sterilisation would be used to bring under control the stray dog population. These dogs would also be vaccinated against rabies and other diseases. But that’s a touchy subject as children and needy people should have priority.
An animal rights group in Georgia has set up a petition against the Vet Clinic #1, which is killing stray and unattended dogs in Tbilisi and this is the petition’s opening paragraph: “We write this appeal with the hope of improving the welfare and protection of animals that will add to the overall development of our country. Especially disturbing is the tragic fate of street animals in Georgia, and it needs immediate attention from both the state and the Georgian public. Unfortunately, Government and public are not ready yet to find humane and viable solution to this problem.”


Mr Eurodog said...

Georgia is at the very beginning stage of coming to terms with the huge mountain it has to climb in order to share our values, laws and comforts. Animal rights are low on their agenda, when there are unmade roads, poor sanitation, refugees, rudimentary healthcare for humans all of which are in urgent need of fixing to reach basic levels that would still be unacceptable to us. Fortunately for them, the Tbilisi slumdogs are blissfully unaware of the fate which probably awaits them.

Anonymous said...

We get caught up in our home countries and forget how awful it is for animals in other parts of the world.