My opinion about the ubiquitous stray dogs in Georgia has evolved over the years, from “Wait, there’s also a country called Georgia?” to “crap, do I have to get rabies shots?” to “oh, these stray dogs aren’t so bad” to “shit, I’m being chased by a dog” to “wait, how many of my friends have been bitten?” At some point I was complaining about this issue to a friend of mine in the States who is good at getting things done, and she suggested that I write a letter to the President about it. If the country is really as small and if political action really happens as summarily as I have represented, went her logic, then a determined individual may well stand a fair chance of motivating some kind of change, especially on a matter so relatively trivial and uncontroversial.
Soon after that, a conversation started up on one of TLG’s more exclusive facebook groups talking about the issue of strays. I floated the idea of a petition/letter writing campaign and the various folks seemed to think that could be good, so I went ahead a drafted a succinct but comprehensive letter about stray dogs – the problem, and the solution – to be promulgated and possibly sent in to some sort of elected officials.
Well, response has been good, so I went ahead and submitted said letter to Misha himself through his nifty “Send Letter To ThePresident” web form – and note that Misha is so modern that his title is in CamelCase – and I’m really hoping that Mr. Saakashvili will get my letter and take it to heart. Especially since we’re so tight these days.
Anyway, here’s the text of the letter. I’m actually serious about getting something done about this dog thing, so if you agree with what I’ve written I encourage you to share it with your friends and enemies, and then sign it and send it to your local politicians – be they regional members of parliament, local mayors or influential folk, the Mayor of Tbilisi, or the President himself. This really isn’t a controversial issue and I think we can all agree that strays should be dealt with responsibly and humanely.
To whom it may concern,
The problem of stray dogs has yet to be adequately addressed in Georgia. Stray dogs pose a number of dangers to public health and safety – aside from the obvious issue of dog bites, there’s also the danger of rabies (a disease which, if not treated promptly, is fatal) and of other diseases spread by dogs or by insects carried by dogs. Finally, the large number of strays sharing the road with automobiles can lead to traffic accidents if a driver swerves to avoid a passing dog.
The life of a stray dog is nasty, brutish, and short. Strays are hungry, scavenging for food through the refuse left by humans, and many strays are bony and emaciated. Many strays also have untreated injuries or diseases, leaving them scarred and visibly disfigured. Strays are subject to abuse at the hands of unkind humans or at the teeth and claws of other dogs.
Meanwhile, the communities that live with strays face a number of quality of life concerns. Dogs are loud at night, when they roam the streets in packs hunting or fighting or howling at the moon. Dogs dig through our trash, making a mess on the street. Dogs leave their excrement in public places where people want to walk. Living with filthy, noisy animals may seem like a trifling problem, but when visitors come to Georgia for tourism, work, or education, the strays make a significant impact on their opinion and can mar the beauty of Georgia in their minds.
This problem should be approached with a comprehensive, responsible, and humane plan to control the population of strays both by reducing current numbers of strays and preventing the growth of the population in the future. Such a plan would include dog-catchers, pounds, adoption programs, and, as a last resort, euthanasia. Pet owners should be encouraged to keep their pets from running wild through collar and leash laws; and additionally should be encouraged to have their pets spayed or neutered.
As a concerned resident of Georgia, I urge you to take action on this issue. Many countries have successfully managed the problem of stray dogs and there are a number of different, effective models to work from, as well as various NGOs concerned with animal rights and/or civic development who would be happy to work with the Georgian government to ensure a prompt, efficient, and effective solution to the problem of stray dogs.
Thank you for your attention,
(Your name here)
Of course you should feel free to edit this in whatever way you like, or just write your own completely original letter. I actually believe that together, we can build a better Georgia, and I think we would all like to see the benefits of a well-managed dog population throughout the country.
In case you’re wondering what we should do with all the strays, I hear Bremen is in the market for some new musicians – especially if your dog can play an upright bass guitar…
(Video: Bremenskiye Musicanti, Part 1)