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They’re everywhere and come in all shapes and sizes from fluffy and petite to hairless and somewhat corpulent. They wander in and out of Olympic venues looking for food, a warm snuggle or even a kiss from a stranger.
Problem is, the Kremlin doesn’t think the strays look good for Russia’s image after spending the most ever on an Olympics, $50 billion and counting. So before the games, officials in Sochi stepped up efforts to get rid of the canines, with exterminators shooting poison darts at loose dogs.
Sochi 2014 Olympic spokeswoman Alexandra Kosterina denied that was the policy.
My sister sent me a text saying she saw piles of dog and cat bodies.Sonia Turpietkina, veterinarian
Sonia Turpietkina is a veterinarian. She doesn’t buy that the dogs are being examined.
“You don't see what's going on here?” she said. “My sister sent me a text saying she saw piles of dog and cat bodies. She goes on to say that she also keeps seeing poisoned bait and that the dogs are dying in horrible pain.”
The arbitrary killing has people from around the world and here at the games trying to save the stray dogs.
American slopestyle ski silver medalist Gus Kenworthy found a mom and four puppies in the mountains above Sochi.
“I am not sure if I will necessarily keep all of them for myself, but I am definitely trying to bring them all them back to the states,” Kenworthy said. “Yeah, a lot of girls like Olympians and puppies.” [sidebar title="Only A Game Covers The 2014 Winter Olympics" width="320" align="right"]Check out all of Only A Game's feature stories from Sochi and analysis of the Olympics.[/sidebar]
Janet Lawrence came all the way from Canada to watch the games. She wants to bring some strays home, but can’t.
“I have a house full of dogs and cats, so no I wouldn’t take another one home to be honest,” she said. “My barnyard is full.”
And getting a dog out of Russia requires loads of paperwork and official stamps certifying the dog is healthy.
Not having enough room and money appear to be the key problems for those who’d like to save a dog.
Billionaire Oleg Deripaska donated $15,000 and has started a charity, Volnoe Delo, to help rescue the dogs and keep them on local land. Deripaska has also pledged another $50,000 to keep the shelter running for a year.
That’s all well and good according to animal rights activist Olga Sadovskaya.
“I think it’s good the subject is being discussed but what happens after the Olympics are over?” she asked. “Nobody will give a guarantee that the killing won’t continue.”
In the meantime, animal lovers around the world are happy that an effort is being made, at least for the time being, to save a furry friend.
This segment aired on February 22, 2014.