Dogs Being Killed in Sochi

Animals are being exterminated in advance of the Olympic Games
By JoAnna Lou, February 2014

The Sochi Olympics has been met with controversy on many fronts, but now reports are surfacing that the Sochi government is overturning their decision to control the stray dog problem humanely in advance of the Games. The government is worried that the animals may bite visitors or interfere with the competitions.

Back in April, Sochi decided against hiring an extermination company to kill homeless animals after strong opposition from animal rights groups. The government promised to move towards sterilization and build a new animal shelter. Now it seems that they've gone back on their word and returned to the original plan. On top of that, there seems to be no evidence that a new shelter was ever built.

According to Basya Services, the Sochi government has hired the company to "catch and dispose" of stray dogs. Reports also indicate that the pups are not always euthanized in the most humane manner (Poison seems to be common, which besides being a horrible death, is a dangerous thing to leave lying around. There is also a history of people shooting or stabbing stray animals).

If the Sochi government did try the humane approach, it doesn't seem like they allocated enough resources to make it successful. Admittedly the sterliziation method takes more time than their "quick fix," time that they no longer have. I can imagine that existing shelters and rescue groups are most likely overwhelmed.  

At this late hour it seems there is little that can be changed, but I hope that the attention and public pressure that Sochi receives will spur them to make a cultural shift in responsible pet ownership. Neutering pets is not common in Russia and that, along with less people abandoning animals, would make long strides in solving the overpopulation problem. It's sad that so many dogs will lose their lives over a sporting event.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

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