Dog Poop
24 January, 2013
Dog Poop There are some stray dogs in Tbilisi but not so many now, mainly people who own dogs as pets. Those people walk their dogs, those dogs poop on the sidewalk, and usually the owners just leave it there. There are several aspects of this phenomenon. We'll discuss them one by one.
The first is to note that all these dogs are a sign of economic development. It's not too many years ago after independence that almost nobody could
afford to feed dogs, and all the old Soviet era pets had been let loose and roamed the streets in packs. But not now. And it is nice to see people walking well cared for dogs, as in any civilized society. The second point is that it is very inconsiderate for people to allow their dogs to leave poop on the sidewalk. The dog is their responsibility, they and everybody knows that.

Stepping in dog poop is very annoying, and yet many owners simply don't care. It is a supremely selfish act; an act that in many societies would lead to significant repetitional damage among neighbors. Perhaps it reflects well on Georgians that they don't judge neighbors too harshly for acts like this. But the fact remains that Tbilisi has a significant dog poop problem, making the city much less nice to walk in, and that is caused by the relatively small number of people who own and walk dogs. Thirdly, this is a very easy problem to solve and one that many people care about. Throughout wealthier countries, there are almost always laws that when somebody is walking a dog they need to carry with them a small plastic bag. Usually they carry it on the hand that is not holding the leash so everybody can see the bag.

This is partly to tell neighbors that they are responsible people but also the police will often stop people who do not visibly have a bag over their other hand. If they have one in their pocket and pull it out, they will not get a ticket, but nobody likes to get stopped by the police, so people often keep them on their hand. The amount of the ticket can be very high, often hundred of lari. Just as was the case with seat belts in Georgia, high fines and handing out tickets works. One question is who would give out the tickets. Police in Georgia really love their cars. They have nice cars and the cars are all over.

Unlike in wealthier countries, Georgian police cars have those Soviet style megaphones on top that allows the police to yell at people without getting out of their car. After the elections there was a spike in crime and for a while, for the first time since Shevarnadze, I saw cops walking along Rustaveli Avenue, and was very happy about it. But not anymore. Not sure if there will ever be cops that walk around a neighborhood but it would sure be great. Perhaps one day. But for now, if there was a dog poop law, cops in cars could see which dog walkers didn't have plastic bags on their other hand. And why doesn't the city council pass a law like this? It is so easy, and would be so popular. What are they talking about anyway? I know of so few cases in which city or town councils have talked about something like this that is not at all political, maybe also not so dramatic or exciting but would be a big help to the quality of life in the city. Maybe they are passing these laws but nobody I know has ever heard about it, in which case they don't seem to be doing very effective PR for themselves. In general, it would be a good idea if members of city councils around Georgia rather than getting in arguments about who is on which side, pass a few laws that are about small things but things the voters care about.

Council members are too focused on themselves and what they want and think, rather than on constituents and what they want. And they want less dog book on sidewalks. Just ask them and see what they say.