Georgian Strays

One issue here in Georgia about which we were warned during orientation is the stray dog problem.  It was really a bewildering sight to see on the first day’s walking tour of Tbilisi: I’ve lived in a far bigger city nearly all of my life and during that time, I only recall seeing a single stray dog.

When I asked why nothing is being done about the stray dog problem, the question was brushed off as a waste of time and resources, “because we have a lot of homeless people in Georgia.”  While it’s undeniably true that homelessness is a more pressing issue, solving that problem is really more of a long-term endeavor than rounding up and fixing a bunch of strays.

Hiring a number of unemployed people as dog-catchers could also help allieviate the unemployment problem in Georgia.  It creates a bunch of jobs in addition to the actual dog-catchers: vets, humane societies, pet supply markets.  Not to mention it gets these poor animals off the hot streets and protects people from maybe being attacked by them.

Georgian strays range from the heart-warmingly cute:

to the heart-breakingly mangy:

We were warned at orientation that one of the most common injuries sustained by volunteers is dog bites from strays and were advised to keep away from them.

They’re mostly found in towns, near restaurants:

in alleys:

on the sidewalk:

and in the street:

You occasionally see them wandering the roads in between towns and villages, and I expect these are a bit more dangerous to approach:

They’re all endearing to a dog-lover like me to some extent:

Though I have a favorite here in Telavi:

He’s just barely skin and bones and I feel bad for him being black in all this heat.  I seem him just about every time I go into the center of Telavi and named him Lance for… some reason… before realizing the colonial implications of moving to a developed nation and giving one of its natives a Western name.  A little too close to Columbus’ letter to Luis de Santangel for me.  So I renamed him Giorgi for… some reason.

Here he is at night, where you can see the little bowl of water a shopkeeper evidently keeps out for his (and other dogs’) use:

Right after cleaning up litter, it seems to me that taking care of these stray dogs would be Georgia’s next step to acquiring more tourism and raising the standard of living for their citizens.

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