Thousands of homeless dogs wander the streets of Sochi, begging for food. They live in the mud, and amid abandoned buildings and construction sites, without food or water, in the cold.
With the winter Olympics opening ceremonies to start Friday, Russia is callously killing off its stray dogs in an effort to "clear the streets" of them to avoid bothering Sochi's new visitors, avoiding the possibility of a wandering hungry dog into an Olympic event.
Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, told The Associated Press that his company had a contract to exterminate the animals throughout the Olympics.
The Russian President, Vladimir Putin, who has worked hard to portray a friendly atmosphere during the Games, is tarnishing that image with the gruesome handling of these dogs.
Locals say that many of these strays were once pets that were abandoned by the people whose homes were destroyed to make room for the Olympics. During that demolition, many of the residents were moved into apartments that frowned on pets.
But, a dog shelter backed by a Russian billionaire is making a frantic effort to get to these dogs before the "exterminator" does, trying to save strays before facing their death sentence.
Hundreds of dogs have already been killed, with their disposal unknown, and the reasoning has animal rights groups up in arms.
“We were told, ‘Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them,’ ” said Olga Melnikova, who is coordinating the rescue effort on behalf of a charity called Volnoe Delo (roughly, Good Will), which is financed by Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia’s billionaire leaders.
Tamara Rumyantseva who heads the Volnoe Delo Foundation stated, “creation of the first dog shelter in Sochi is an important step as it shows that business is concerned about social responsibility and animal rights."
The dogs are being scooped up as quickly as possible using a golf cart to rescue and place them at the makeshift shelter on the outskirts of the city.
All of the dogs that have been brought to the shelter are receiving medical care, food, and a warm place to lie down. They are all available for adoption, as the overwhelming numbers keep growing as groups scramble to save as many as possible.
The Humane Society International also has a petition started in an effort to fight against the dog cull of Sochi.
Image via YouTube