I recently heard and read that a Russian dog shelter has found a friend in Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Deripaska has avidly engaged in funding frantic last ditch efforts to save hundreds of stray dogs ( and cats ) facing death due to Sochi villages having been cleared for the 2014 Winter Olympics. So far his efforts have helped rescue 2,000 dogs from death.
Sochi has had a large and continually replenished population of strays, and for seven years up until the planning for the Winter Games the city had just one dog policy: paying exterminators to kill them.
Already hundreds of animals have been killed and animal activists in both Russia and around the world are outraged. The handling of the matter has sharply undercut the image of a friendlier more welcoming Winter Olympic Games and that of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Ironically, Putin is also a dog lover himself. He has been spotted with his black lab by the press several times.
What makes this situation even more disturbing is many of the strays are pets and/or offspring of pets abandoned by families whose homes with yards were demolished over the past few years to make way for the Olympic venues. The pet owners were compensated with new apartments in taller buildings where keeping a pet is viewed as “ undesirable”.
Russia has never made a priority of pushing responsible animal control policies like spaying and neutering which would have helped avoid the current problems.
The effort to remove the dogs began in October. It is said about 300 dogs, often puppies, were being killed in Sochi at a cost of $25 to $35 each.
Thankfully, Russian Animal rights workers in Sochi working hard to rescue dogs and “smuggle” them from exterminators hired by the government, in hopes of leaving no animal behind. I am grateful for those people who are making efforts in Sochi making the rescues. Living far away in San Diego, at times I feel so hopeless to aid in the recovery of the “doomed” animals.
The good news, though is Russia is making it very easy for these rescued strays from Sochi to be adopted. It can be done over the phone and email, but it will require significant cooperation from several agencies that could be made much less complicated in person. So if you are interested and financially able, my suggestion is jump on a plane to Sochi and make a rescue(s). More importantly, any American already in Sochi or planning on coming during the Olympic Games can bring home one of the now famous pups relatively easily and inexpensively.
So if you are interested in adopting a new dog or looking to help raise funds for Sochi stray dog rescue efforts go to Adopting a Sochi Street Dog : Humane Society International.