Throughout the 2014 Winter Olympics, several members of the press reported on the abundance of stray dogs roaming near hotels and venues in Sochi and the athletes who are bringing them home, such as skier Gus Kenworthy. Though the media and athletes are home now, several others are returning with adoptable dogs of their own in tow.
According to Fox 2 St. Louis on Monday, Team USA hockey player and captain of the St. Louis Blues David Backes is just one athlete who took the opportunity to rescue strays while in Sochi to compete. After successfully getting through all the red tape, Backes and his wife Megan returned from Russia with two dogs, whom they call Sochi Junior and Sochi Jake.
“When they`re timid and you can kind of tell they`ve been mistreated or you see one with mange or that`s really skinny or fighting over some scraps of food that really tears your heart out because we feel that every dog should have a great home that`s well fed,” Backes told Fox 2.
Megan tweeted a photo yesterday of the couple with Junior and Jake kicking back in first class on a charter plane back to the U.S., adding that "so much hard work went into this!" Backes followed up this morning, writing that the dogs are resting and will be vaccinated and neutered this week. They'll stay in the custody of the Five Acres Animal Shelter for 30 days before getting the chance to be adopted by one of the "many interested guardians."
The couple run the foundation Athletes for Animals, which aims to "protect the welfare of homeless pets nationwide."
Among the other adopters are E! correspondent and former Bachelorette Ali Fedotwosky, who returned with two strays over the weekend. Actress Katherine Heigl, co-founder of a foundation that finds homes for shelter dogs, and her mother Nancy are helping her find permanent homes for the dogs and have agreed to house little Adler until then.
Like Backes, Fedotwosky says she has received hundreds of requests to adopt Adler, while a male dog named Sochi is recovering from sickness on the flight over.
"The story being told of how these dogs are just like yours and mine at home and how you know we should treat our animals with respect and be responsible pet owners is a story that a lot of people wanted to tell and I think we`re telling it now,” Backes said.