February 20, 2020 Our People

First person account: helping in Georgia

First person account: helping in Georgia

Alissa Johnson, Mayhew’s Digital Communications Officer, joined the Mayhew team on their recent trip to Georgia. She spoke to us about her work at the municipal shelter in Tbilisi.

“I will never forget the week I spent working with Mayhew International at the Tbilisi Municipal Shelter in Georgia. It was one of the hardest and most challenging experiences I have ever had, but it was incredibly rewarding. My first thought on arriving at the shelter was how lucky we are in the UK. The shelter is massive and was packed with dogs, puppies, cats and kittens – there was even a horse in a stable round the back! Every few hours, more animals arrived, collected by the Municipality Animal Monitoring Agency team or brought in by members of the public.”

Alissa Johnson volunteering at Mayhew Georgia
“Georgia has a substantial street dog population, so sadly a lot of the dogs that come into the shelter have been involved in accidents after wandering unknowingly into the road; it was very hard to watch the shelter team unload those vans.”

“The injured animals come straight into the shelter’s vet clinic. There is a small team of Georgian vets and vet nurses working there and the facilities are basic compared to those we’re used to in the UK. Our Head Vet, Ursula, explained to me that being a vet in Georgia has not been seen as a highly regarded profession, so it’s extra important for Mayhew to be there to share our veterinary skills and knowledge.”

“The days at the shelter were long and exhausting, both physically and mentally. One minute I felt full of love and pride watching Ursula and Mayhew trained Georgian vet Ana teach a successful surgery technique to the shelter’s vets, and then I’d feel such sadness as yet another injured animal arrived in desperate need of our help.”

“Despite the long days and emotional challenges, I was so proud to be a part of the Georgian Mayhew team for a week and to have insight into their vital work raising standards of vet care and shelter management so that the Tbilisi Municipal Shelter can continue to learn, improve and help even more animals in the future.”