December 11th. It’s a beautiful, sunny day and my boyfriend and I are on our way to the Botanical Garden. It’s been about a month that we have been holidaying in Tbilisi and we are set to go home for Christmas in a little over a week. But, as we are walking through the old town, we cross path with a tiny black kitten looking severely injured and meowing to the death from under the car where he is hidden. There are people around, but nobody seems to care and an old lady even tries to stop me as I kneel to reach towards him. He comes straight into my arms, and without much hesitation, we rush him to the vet to learn that he has a broken back leg and gangrene on both his back legs, and is also severely malnourished (looking 3 months old when he was actually 7 or 8 months old).
For the next seven days, we would not leave him alone for a second, taking turns to take him on our knees, bringing him to the vet every day, administering his medicine, changing his diapers (yes, diapers – he could not stand so he would pee and poo on himself, so as per the vet advice, we used diapers for a couple of days), letting him sleep between us, and so on. It was both physically and mentally exhausting, not least given how worried we were, and we truly felt like we had gotten a taste of parenthood! By the end of that week, he had to be amputated. But he made a quick recovery and has gotten perfectly used to life on three legs.
We quickly grew very fond of him and we decided to adopt him. But this meant missing Christmas with our families and staying much longer in Tbilisi so we could prepare him to go abroad. My boyfriend went home in late January for work. As for me, I am still here, waiting on Potato (and my new puppy) to go through the process required for him to enter the European Union.
My experience with Potato really got me thinking. The situation with street dogs and cats in Georgia had appalled me from the moment I got here, but – as I did in the past in the other countries I visited which had significant stray animal populations – I had told myself: I’m only here for a short time, plus I have a lot of other concerns in my life right now, so there is really nothing I can do. But after rescuing my kitten, I could no longer make excuses and blind myself to their suffering. I couldn’t stop thinking: Potato was lucky (and it is quite sad that I come to think of him as lucky given that he lost a leg in the process), but
what about all the others out there that are not so lucky? He is in a warm home right now, but what about all those that are freezing out there on those cold winter nights? He got medical attention, but what about all those who never do? He got love, but what about all those that are lonely and vulnerable? He has food and water, but what about all those that are starving and thirsty? I would look at stray dogs and cats, and I would just feel the urge to do something for them.
I started small:
first, I pet them whenever I had the opportunity. Then, I started feeding the stray cats in my neighborhood.
And finally, I got in touch with the GSPSA.
I had no clue what to expect; I had never been in a shelter before, or in an animal right organisation, let alone volunteered in one. Little did I know that I would be joining a big family counting fifty-two loving dogs and their humans, a group of people strongly committed to their work of improving their and all other animals’ lives. Both dogs and humans immediately made me feel welcome, and I quickly became more involved. I am helping out with cleaning, feeding the dogs and giving them love at the shelter (and even being unknowingly dragged into TV interviews). I also participated in two puppy adoption events through which I landed myself a new companion – I was only supposed to foster him, but I couldn’t resist his big watery eyes and playful personality… and now I’m in the process of adopting him (to the despair of both my cat and my boyfriend, who wonders why he ever left me alone surrounded by pets in Georgia).
But this is just the beginning, and I hope that I will be able to do more in improving animals’ lives in the time that i will be staying in Georgia!
I had come to Georgia in the expectation that I would only stay about five weeks. It has been nearly four months, and it will be at least another four or five months until my cat and puppy are ready to go to Europe…. GSPSA supports me fully to prepare them for adoption.
The least I can say is that rescuing my Potato has turned my life around. And all I can say is: It was for the better!
Jade Mouquet from France.
26 Fabruary, 2020.