Sochi, Russia, hosted the 2014 Winter Olympics, as well as a mass killing of thousands of stray animals. Sochi is now hosting the Soccer World Cup in June of 2018. The city has over 2 million stray animals, and most of them are dogs. Something needs to be done so history does not repeat itself!
Sochi is expecting around 1 million people to attend the World Cup. Dog hunters, as they are called in Russia, are actively killing stray dogs. They are hired by cities to “resolve” the stray animal problem. In preparation for the event, the Russian government ordered in January for the host cities (11 regions) to create temporary shelters for the homeless animals. However, no money has been allocated to the temporary shelters.
Was the order in January just a smoke-and-mirror stunt to appear more humane?
Ekaterina Dmitrieva, director of the Urban Animal Protection Fund, states that she found government contracts to cull strays in the host cities. Dmitrieva brought them to the attention of Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko. The contracts used different words like “destruction,” “euthanization,” and “utilization of the carcasses.” All those words eluded to the killing of strays, instead of humane options ordered by the Russian government.
Russian city governments control their own budgets for these matters, so activists believe the killings will still occur. Dmitrieva says that dogs are held in shelters for 10 days before being euthanized. She volunteers weekly at a shelter in Moscow. The problem is that adopting is not common in Russia.
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Mutko, in February, stated that he had ordered regional officials to “adopt humane programs for the control of stray animals,” according to The Telegraph. Instead of the following the orders, however, one city released contracts to cull strays just days later.
“Vladimir Burmatov, head of the environmental protection committee, called on sport minister Pavel Kolobkov in a letter to stop the ‘mass destruction of unsupervised animals’ in host cities and find a humane solution,” reports The Telegraph.
Burmatov stated, “It’s a question of our country’s reputation. Because we are not so savage as to kill animals on the street en masse, throw their bloody carcasses in vehicles, and drive around the city.”
In 2014, the stray animals were killed with poison darts. Activists fear this method may be used again. People are frustrated and want Russia to neuter the stray animals and release them. If this method was started four years ago, after the Winter Olympics, the stray number would not be so large.
“Sochi was a catastrophe, and then the government said that they will never repeat what happened in Sochi,” Dmitrieva states. “Nothing is getting better. It’s getting worse.”
Olga Korzinina, animal activist from A Dog’s Life, is actively reaching out to Russia to tell them to stop killing stray animals. Her group is asking people to boycott the event, because strays are still being killed. Korzinina tells The Telegraph, “They shoot tranquilizers that immobilize the dog, and then it dies of suffocation within 15 minutes.” The group does not believe the “dog hunters” will stop killing strays.
Saying and doing are two different things. Russia needs to enforce their order for temporary shelters for the stray animals. Many of the dogs are friendly and semi-domesticated, thanks to locals feeding and caring for them. The fate of these animals is up in the air.
You can help save their lives by signing and sharing the petition below.
Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast that resides in West Michigan. When not writing, she is exploring the great outdoors with her dogs and horses.
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