'“The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated” - Mahatma Gandhi
In a country like Georgia, statistics and numbers are not necessary to see how many stray and homeless dogs live on the streets of our city. Dogs depend a lot on us – humans, to get food, water, veterinary procedures and warmth. When they cannot meet their daily needs, they have to look for food and shelter themselves. From road accidents, cold weather, hunger and various diseases, dogs often die on the streets. Many passers don’t allow them to stay in a certain place throwing stones at them and killing them with cruelty. It is common to leave newborn, incompetent puppies in landfills, which is a sad reality in our country. The problem is quite painful and complex, especially when we see how many dogs are being bought and sold when so many dogs are wandering in the streets of our city.
People get inspired by various movies and fashion, they buy dogs without thinking and eventually throw them out in the street or hand them to dog shelters. In addition to the popular Husky breed, there are a large number of people who want to buy so-called purse dogs, which shows that the selection of a dog by its appearance and recklessness is one of the main problems out of many.
Many Georgian and international non-governmental organizations have been established to help dogs and solve a number of problems. Posts on the problems of stray dogs, their daily lives and needs are also often found in social media.
And yet, exactly how can we help them?
DOG (Dog Organization Georgia) has been interested in this issue for years and is constantly looking for different ways to solve the problem. Their mission is to reduce the number of stray dogs, to find owners for them, to accommodate them and to take constant care of the welfare of the animals in general.
Ivo Bakhuijzen, a Dutch businessman who came to Georgia in 2008, was concerned about the number of stray dogs in the country, seeing them walking by the cars he realized that some action was needed. After extensive fundraising and overcoming numerous obstacles in 2011, DOG opened its first dog shelter. Soon Fiona Coxshall joined the organization.
She also made significant contributions to fundraising and became director of DOG in 2013. During her tenure, the organization began significant collaborations with Mayhew International, which provided the necessary funding to DOG to successfully vaccinate dogs. As part of the program, more than 1,000 dogs were vaccinated and spayed. With the help of Fiona, the organization hasn't stopped developing, expanding and raising money. Coxshall left Georgia in 2016 and passed the role of management on to Maite Iniesta Ortiz and Sara Anna Modzmanashvili-Kemecsei who run the shelter presently. Both Sara-Anna and Maite have loved dogs since childhood, for them it was a very fortunate constellation how they ended up turning their passion into something proactive and constructive in the framework of DOG.
Over 400 dogs found loving homes through DOG, girls visit families regularly to make sure dogs are in safe hands. They continue to care for four-legged creatures even after adoption, giving their owners advice they need and even helping to address dog health problems. They usually have between 35-42 dogs, some of them are in foster homes.
Lots of volunteers and well-wishers at DOG are helping to achieve their goals. Many years of experience have shown that a solution can always be found and that each person can make a difference for a better, safer future. Every animal deserves a loving owner and a permanent home!
When you decide to buy a dog, think twice and remember there are many stray dogs to adopt. Be a role model for others. Before adoption, ask yourself if you are ready for a big change. Caring for a dog is a huge responsibility.