With the 2014 Winter Olympics beginning this Friday, February 7th, all eyes are on the city of Sochi, Russia. And not everyone likes what they see.
The city, like many in Russia, has long been troubled with a population of stray dogs. The city of Sochi has hired a private company to round up and kill as many of these stray dogs as possible — an effort that many see as aiming to project the best possible image of Sochi while international cameras are rolling.
The owner of the company, Alexei Sorokin, claims that some of these dogs are “biting children,” and that a stray dog could be a hazard to the games: “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.
And just what are the odds of that, you may wonder, as OhMyDog.com asks. To many, it simply sounds like a presence of stray dogs at the hugely publicized event would be an embarrassment.
Late last year, public outcry against such killings of these strays prompted the city of Sochi to claim it would work with rescue groups to place the dogs. Yet it seems that strategy has been abandoned.
What You Can Do
Animal activists at Change.org have written a petition for anyone and everyone to copy and send to the Mayor of Sochi: email@example.com, the Organization of Olympic Winter Games: firstname.lastname@example.org, the Russian Olympic Committee: email@example.com, and an extensive list of Olympic sponsors, including Coca-Cola and Visa.
Update Feb 5, 2014 – A Ray of Hope
We’re happy to share that some intrepid residents of Sochi have decided to take matters into their own hands.
Vlada Provotorova, a local dentist and dog lover, embarked on a rescue mission with some of her friends. The group has grown to about 30 volunteers. “I felt like I had to do something,’’ Provotorova said. Together they’ve rescued nearly 100 dogs, taking them to any shelter they can find.
“We carry the ones we can — some of them are so big they won’t budge,’’ Provotorova said. “We sterilize them, we vaccinate them, we rid them of fleas, and we try to find a place to put them.”
Still, she feels she may be losing the battle. The job of finding permanent homes for the dogs remains. She hopes to find homes for most of the dogs in Moscow and Provotorova has adopted Charlie, a Lab mix, to come home with her two German spitzes.
Update Feb 10 – Adopt a Dog or Reach Out to a Shelter
The Humane Society International has collected contact information for several of the shelters that are currently taking in rescued strays in Sochi. If you’re at the Olympics, or traveling through Russia, check out this list for information on what you’ll need to bring a dog across countries.