As final preparations were being made for the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics ugly news trickled-out of this Black Sea resort that thousands of stray dogs would be exterminated before the Games began. Arguing that Russia had an obligation to the international community to remove these unwanted animals, a Russian parliamentary member was quoted saying that there was “an obvious problem with animals living on the streets” and that “extermination was the fastest solution.”
So, the City of Sochi hired a private company to exterminate stray dogs before and during the 2014 Winter Olympic games.
ABC News spoke with Alexei Soroki, the owner of the company hired to kill the stray dogs, who showed no remorse. He said he saw no problem killing the dogs since they pose a danger to both the athletes and tourists in the village. “Imagine, if during an Olympic games, a ski jumper landed at 130 kilometres an hour [over 80 mph] and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both a jumper and for the stray dog,” he said. He continued further by saying, “I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs. Let’s call things by their real name. These dogs are biological trash.”
Thus, local animal rescue groups were told ”either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them,” said Olga Melnikova, the coordinator of the animal rescue group.
Fortunately, Russian billionaire, Oleg Deripaska, came forward at the 11th hour with a third option — and one that he is funding himself: A makeshift shelter on the mountainside of Sochi.
The temporary shelter set up on the outskirts of Sochi is now called, PovoDog, which is a play on the Russian word for “leash.”
Dogs and puppies are being taken by the armloads to the temporary shelter, which is buying extra time for local animal rescue groups to find new homes for the dogs or at least pass them through the animal rescue network to other shelters. A recent report said PovoDog is already housing about 1,000 dogs.
The International Humane Society also came to the rescue of these hapless dogs and not only sent a letter to Russian President Putin and to the International Olympic Committee (IOC), but is also aiding the adoption process.
Now the IOC says only sick strays are being exterminated and that others are merely being relocated so they cannot disrupt the 2014 Games.
A horrified member of the Scottish parliament said he hopes this is the case, otherwise this inhumane policy “stains the snow of Sochi with blood.”
If you are interested in adopting one of the Sochi dogs, please visit the International Humane Society website where all the details about the process are outlined. The good news: If you are already in Sochi it is relatively easy to bring a dog back with you when you return home.
Thanks to the public outcry about this inhumane solution to a problem created by humans thousands of stray Russian dogs will be soon finding their forever homes – and that is a very warm and fuzzy thought appropriate for the Valentine month of February.