SUKHUM / AQW'A ― On Sunday, April 23, multiple domestic and stray dogs were poisoned in the centre of Gagra. A local resident reported the incident to the Gagra district police department, according to Astamur Yunusba, the department's deputy head.
Yunusba explained that an unidentified person had harmed several animals in the central part of the city. He also highlighted the ongoing issue of stray dogs in Gagra, which has led to some residents expressing concern for their safety.
Yunusba stated, "To be honest, people are divided into two groups. Some try to help animals and feel sorry for them, while others are afraid for their children and themselves. In any case, we accepted the complaint and will conduct the necessary investigation, but given the general situation, there may be numerous suspects."
In mid-March 2023, Gagra animal rights activists filed a complaint with the police regarding the shooting of dogs near a subtropical park. The pre-investigation work is still in progress, with suspects identified by activists having been interviewed but not yet confirmed as involved in the case.
Marina Ashkharava, a resident of an apartment building on Abazgaa Street, reported the April 23 incident to law enforcement agencies. She described how frightened children had come to her door, tearfully explaining that something was wrong with the dogs in the yard.
Upon going outside, Ashkharava witnessed a horrifying scene of dogs dying in agony, with distressed children and concerned neighbours gathered around. A local veterinary clinic in Sukhum advised administering vitamin injections to the dogs, but despite the efforts, one dog named Nora did not survive.
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It was later discovered that some residents had seen pieces of meat scattered on the pavement near the affected area but did not realise their significance. Another stray dog and one domestic dog consumed the poisoned meat, but they survived thanks to the assistance of local residents.
Ashkharava acknowledged that dogs can sometimes be a nuisance to people, but she emphasised the need for more humane solutions such as sterilisation and expansion of shelters, which should be implemented at the state level. She deemed the use of cruel methods like poisoning to be unacceptable, noting that the dogs involved in the incident were not problematic and were in fact loved by many.
She also mentioned that dog poisoning incidents have been on the rise in recent months, occurring in areas such as the Gagra railway station, the local market, and the Camping microdistrict.
Last week, the Parliament of the Republic of Abkhazia passed the first reading of the draft law "On the Responsible Treatment of Animals." This bill outlines general requirements for animal treatment, state regulation and public control in the area, guidelines for keeping animals at home, and the responsibilities of animal owners.