WASHINGTON, February 12, 2014—Volunteers have descended into Sochi, Russia but not to support the athletic competitions but instead to smuggle stray dogs out of town.
Concern over reports of contracted killing of stray dogs that came with the start of the Olympics has brought animal activists out to search for the remaining strays.
Stray dogs are common in many Russia cities but the street dog population grew massive with the enormous construction endeavor in Sochi.
Construction workers find the dogs to be useful during building phases as guard dogs and alarms if any unwanted person approaches the construction site so the workers feed them to keep them nearby. The dogs become used to human contact and start to rely on people for food, but then after the construction project is completed, they lose their usefulness.
A pest control company told the Associated Press that they had been contracted to exterminate stray dogs before the Olympics.
The Russian city did not want the dogs to embarrass the country.
A contract to “catch and dispose of” stray dogs was announced last year by Sochi city hall but was strongly protested by animal rights activists. As a reaction to the protests, government officials announced that instead of killing the dogs, a shelter for strays would be build instead.
After the Associated Press report came out that the dogs were actually being killed, volunteers started roaming the Sochi streets looking for the strays, often taking the dogs into their own homes until a permanent home can be found.
A Russian billionaire has opened a temporary shelter outside of Sochi where the strays can be housed for a short time.
The report of thousands of strays having been killed by the pest control company has encouraged Americans to ask how they can adopt one of the Sochi strays.
The International Humane Society has a petition on their site for signing to be sent to the International Olympic committee to express concern as an attempt to make sure that such a thing does not happen again as part of the Olympic games but nothing about adopting a dog.
It seems that those who want to actually bring a stray to American from Sochi, will have to actually go to Russia to retrieve a dog.
Meanwhile, in Russia, the activists are working through the night to save as many as they can.
At a meeting point, where volunteers meet to get the strays out of the city, they tell the Associated Press that the Russian attitude toward dogs is part of the problem. Russians buy dogs but then when they tire of them, it is acceptable to discard them into the street.
They hope that the media surrounding the killing of the dogs in Sochi will help change the cruel attitude toward dogs.
The volunteers have a long list of breeders and regular citizens who are interested in taking custody of some of these dogs once they get safely removed from Sochi.
Written with information provided by Associated Press