Cruel treatment of homeless animals in Samegrelo
A survey conducted in Zugdidi region by Transparency International Georgia’s local office showed that none of the Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti municipalities have a shelter where homeless animals can be kept in isolation and be cared for. Moreover, there have been wide-scale violations of animals’ rights and of subsequent requirements of the legislation, though no one has been made accountable for those facts so far.
Public information requested by our organization from the municipalities in February 2014 confirms that the Samegrelo Municipal Administration (Mayor’s office) does not plan to build any animal shelters in the current year. Moreover, a letter received from Khobi Municipality says that "no unit within the municipality is responsible for dealing with the issue connected to homeless animals and no funds have been provided in the 2014 municipal budget to resolve the problem". In Mestia, the local municipality has only recently launched an inquiry into the issue.
Official documents attest that Abasha, Tsalenjikha, Martvili, and Chkhorotsku municipalities have awarded contracts, envisaging measures to isolate homeless animals, to Giorgi Maghlaperidze, an individual entrepreneur, who, under the documents, signed with the government agencies, undertakes to provide “services to transport stray dogs to the shelter."
One of the latest contracts with Giorgi Maghlaperidze has been signed by the Poti Council (Sakrebulo) Chairman, David Babilua, on February 24, 2014, The total service cost under the contract amounts to GEL 15,000. Importantly, similar contracts with Giorgi Maghlaperidze have been signed by a number of West Georgia municipalities (in particular, Guria, Samegrelo - Zemo Svaneti and Imereti) over the past several years, as a result of which Maghlaperidze received a total of over GEL 37,000 in the form of income from 7 tenders he had won over the period from 2011 to 2014. The majority of the contracts awarded by the municipalities to entrepreneur Giorgi Maghlaperidze came as a result of simplified electronic tenders, i.e. public agencies did not even allow other parties to participate in the tenders.
The biggest problem, however, is that the shelter arranged by Giorgi Maghlaperidze in Baileti village of Ozurgeti municipality is in a dire condition; it is too small and can accommodate at most only 20 dogs in a voilier. The shelter has no water or power supply. Giorgi Maghlaperidze told our representatives that he feeds the dogs he catches with only bread and water once a day.
During our conversation with Giorgi Maghlaperidze, he told us that he catches around 200 to 250 dogs per month in different municipalities, using iron hooked pincers to seize them. Then he transports the dogs to the shelter in Baileti village and after a week or 10 days puts them all to sleep using the chemical Ditilin. George Maglaperidze buries the dead dogs in an open trench which he periodically fills with dead dogs and soil. The shelter area falls far short of observing the elementary sanitary standards, the smell around is unbearable, the place is full of insects and rodents, and fragments of dead dogs’ bodies are strewn across the territory.
Information on the problem appeared as early as 2012 when the relevant evidence was photographed and published by Info 9 news agency on its official website. Under Article 259 of the Georgian Criminal Code, Cruelty against animals that has caused the death or maiming of the animal, as well as torturing animals, shall be punishable by a fine or by corrective labour for up to one year in length. 2. The same action perpetrated: a) by a group; b) repeatedly; c) at the presence of a minor, shall be punishable by a fine or by imprisonment for up to two years in length. Despite the explicit provision of the Code, no one has been held responsible for the violation of the law, nor have any charges been brought against the people slaughtering homeless animals in the centre of Zugdidi on 30 March, 2013.
As Giorgi Maghlaperidze told us, what municipalities care about is to have the stray dogs isolated; they are not concerned with what will become of them later. As to the money Maghlaperidze gets for his "service", according to him, it is not enough to keep the dogs for a longer period and provide care for them in the shelter.
Transparency International Georgia requires that contracts awarded by the municipalities as well as Poti Administration be declared void as the individual entrepreneur cannot meet the requirements specified in the contract, notably, Article 2.1 of the document stipulates that the service provider must have an animal shelter; therewith it also notes that the service provider shall comply with the Country’s relevant regulations. The above evidence, however, confirms that Giorgi Maghlaperidze not only is unable to meet the contractual requirements, but also dogs caught by him become victims of cruel treatment.
Transparency International Georgia appeals to the relevant municipalities to procure appropriate funds and not delay with arranging a shelter for homeless animals. As an example, they can follow the general principles of the operation employed by the Shelter for Homeless Animals, a Gori Municipality non- commercial legal entity, set up with the purpose of isolating stray animals within the municipality and transporting the bodies of the dead animals run over by vehicles to special places where they can be buried. It is also important to note that in order to arrange a similar shelter where animals can be isolated, fed and taken care of, Gori Municipality allocated a total of GEL 127,000 from its current budget, a sum that can be safely covered by the budgets of other municipalities.