Activists Scramble to Save Sochi’s Strays

AP
A stray dog sits near Olympic volunteers in Sochi on Thursday.

Dog lovers and rescue groups are doing everything they can to come to the rescue of thousands of stray dogs being culled and killed in Sochi, the host city of the 2014 Olympic Games in Russia.

Oleg V. Deripaska, a powerful Russian billionaire who is a major investor in the Sochi Games, is among those pushing for a more humane approach to the stray problem: He’s financing a dog shelter and rescue effort.

Deripaska donated $15,000 to start a shelter called PovoDog and has promised to give $50,000 annually to fund its operational costs, reports The New York Times.  

Volunteers from the group are combing the city streets with a golf cart, picking up strays and delivering them to the shelter. They’re hoping some of the athletes and fans visiting Sochi might consider adopting some of the dogs.

Residents Step Up to Help

Distraught Sochi residents are stepping in to help the homeless animals too.

“I felt like I had to do something,’’ Vlada Provotorova, a local dentist and dog lover, told The Boston Globe. She and a group of about 30 volunteers have saved close to 100 dogs. They’ve been collecting the dogs and placing them in makeshift shelters until they can find suitable homes for them.

Another local resident, Tatiana Zarutsjaya, told CBS News that she’s brought 17 stray puppies home with her. "In order to keep those street dogs alive, I'd rather take them into my home than let them be killed," she said.

But animal activists have only been able to save a fraction of the dogs being culled by pest control companies hired by local authorities.

Provotorova estimates that 5,000 to 7,000 dogs have been killed in the current cull. While officials wouldn’t confirm or deny the numbers to the paper, it’s in line with what other witnesses have told the media.

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