Working to protect the dogs of Georgia
Together for Animals member Mayhew had exciting plans for their work in Georgia in 2020 and the year got off to a great start.
Two additional vet clinics in Tbilisi participated in their Trap, Vaccinate, Neuter, Return (TVNR) programme in the city; plans were underway for a pilot spay and neuter project in the resort of Anaklia on the Black Sea coast; and they were looking forward to a celebratory launch event at the British Embassy in the capital. The target for the year was to neuter and vaccinate 1,350 dogs and bring even more local Georgian vets on board. But lockdown had an impact on the work.
As the coronavirus pandemic swept across the globe and Georgia went into lockdown in April, both the pilot programme in Anaklia and the launch from the British Embassy sadly had to be postponed. Veterinary clinics were closed for all but emergency care, and our TVNR programme was suspended for six weeks.
Georgia’s blossoming tourism industry and Tbilisi’s many restaurants, one of the main food sources for the free-roaming dog population, suffered greatly during this period. By early summer, the dogs were more visible on the streets and, with breeding season underway, Mayhew Georgia’s team were being notified of many dogs in urgent need of neutering and preventative care.
Lockdown measures in Georgia began to be eased from the middle of May. The team were keen to get the TVNR programme up and running again to ensure that fewer unwanted litters of puppies are born on the street and to continue their work building a safer and healthier community for both dogs and residents.
“We have known that conditions for dogs in the regions are bad, but when we visit, it has become even clearer just how much needs to be done.” Dr Ana Metskhvarishvili DVM, Veterinary Surgeon, Mayhew Georgia
There is also the need to expand the work outside the capital: conditions for dogs in the rural regions outside of Tbilisi are very poor, particularly as there is little access to any veterinary services. Although the pilot in Anaklia is on hold until 2021, the team are very excited to announce that they are trialling a new partnership with Doggie Doc, which sees the first mobile veterinary clinic in Georgia begin operation.
This collaboration with mobile vet clinic Doggie Doc means they can run targeted population management and vaccination programmes in other regions of Georgia.
Mayhew plan to work outwards from Tbilisi to ensure consistency, with the team being led by Dr Ana Metskhvarishvili, Mayhew Georgia’s vet, and Dr Dato Omarashvili, also trained by Mayhew. Dr Ana and Dr Dato will also be sharing their expertise, training regional vets in techniques for animal handling, pre- and post-operative care and general animal welfare.
Having recently trialled spay and neuter days with the mobile clinic in two villages on the outskirts of Tbilisi, where they neutered and vaccinated 96 dogs, the team has started as it means to go on!
By the end of August, Mayhew Georgia had neutered and vaccinated (against rabies and the most common canine diseases) 507 dogs in Tbilisi and 126 dogs via the mobile clinic. Working with partner vets in Tbilisi, they aim to reach an additional 500 dogs in the capital, and with the collaboration with Doggie Doc formalised, they can continue to help more free-roaming and community dogs in the regions.
Their target is to reach over 200 dogs between September and December, but to do so we will need to make two trips each month and neuter and vaccinate an average of over 30 dogs per trip.