UPDATE: 100 stray dogs from Olympic Park enjoy a reprieve made possible by a billionaire philanthropist, the city of Sochi and various animal-loving volunteers. READ MORE>>
With the Winter Games just days away the stray dogs who have made their home amongst the mud and rubble of Olympic construction sites are not welcome in Sochi.
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
As the games and international attention drew near, Sochi authorities have turned to a pest control company to catch and euthanize the animals in fear that they will bother new visitors – or wander into Olympic events.
In an interview with the Associated Press, Alexei Sorokin, director general of the pest control firm Basya Services, states he has been hired to eliminate stray dogs in Sochi for years and has a contract to exterminate more of the animals before and throughout the Olympic Games.
Sorokin, described his company to AP as being involved in the “catching and disposing” of dogs who he states are often responsible for “biting children.” He refused to specify how the dogs would be killed or say where they would take the bodies.
“A dog ran into the Fisht Stadium, we took it away,” says Sorokin. “God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country.”
According to activists, the bigger disgrace is how Sochi is treating the dogs and using the Olympics as a cover for a standard practice.
“We should understand that it is done not only before the Olympics but constantly,” animal activist Dina Filippova told the AP as she tried to find homes for seven puppies she recently rescued near the Olympic Park.
Sergei Krivonosov, a lawmaker in the region, says taking the dogs off the street is Russia’s “responsibility to the international community and that their elimination is the quickest way to solve this problem.”
AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin
Authorities pledged to give up the practice and build animal shelters for strays instead. In a statement on its website, the city states they have opened a shelter for 100 dogs, but activists say there is no evidence that a shelter has been built.
Reports of the dogs have described them as healthy and friendly. Olympic volunteers have been spotted fawning over the strays and dogs have been viewed sunbathing under the Olympic Rings.
People who want to get involved can sign one of many online petitions calling for an end to this practice. Click here to sign a petition>>