The 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, are set to kick off Friday, and it seems officials are still pulling things together to make sure the city appears at its best on the world stage. That means finding a place for the city’s 2,000-plus stray dogs and cats around the Olympic sites.
What appears to be the perfect opportunity to create shelters for the many homeless animals in Sochi has turned into a grim scenario in which the city is reportedly “disposing” of the dogs and cats. Officials in Sochi hired a private company to kill as many of the stray dogs as possible leading up to the Winter Games, according to ABC News. Officials have offered a 1.7 million-Ruble bounty to Basia Services extermination company to take the dogs “off the streets,” according to The Daily Mail.
Animal rights groups were outraged in April when the city first proposed the plan to exterminate the animals, and after the backlash, officials said the city would consider building a shelter focused on sterilizing the strays.
But the owner of the extermination company, Alexei Sorokin, confirmed the dogs were being killed because they pose a threat to both tourists and athletes in the area.
“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. … I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs,” he said.
Sorokin said the company uses “cruelty-free” methods when killing the animals, using poisons and traps. He said the city has tried other means to control the stray dog population, including trying to work with animal adoption agencies.
Photo via Twitter/@SeanFitz_Gerald