Gus Kenworthy is in love – with Sochi’s stray pups. The American freeskier who took the silver today is planning on returning home with more than just a medal to show off. Kenworthy hopes to fly back to Colorado with a family of Sochi’s stray puppies.
Yahoo! Sports said today that the 22-year-old, who picked up the silver medal as part of a U.S. podium sweep in the new Slopestyle sport, plans to rescue dogs – a mother and four pups – that live in a security tent near the Gorki Media Center, about two miles away from the Rosa Khutor Extreme Park skiing venue.
"I'm doing all that I can to try and bring them back with me," Kenworthy said. "They're like the cutest things ever."
Kenworthy, as well as many other Olympic athletes, have been buzzing over recent stories regarding thousands of Sochi stray dogs, who have been ordered rounded up and killed by city officials – an attempt to “clean up” the streets of Sochi for the games.
“I’ve been a dog lover my whole life and to find the cutest family of strays ever here at the Olympics was just a fairy-tale way to have it go down,” Kenworthy said, shortly after winning his silver today.
He tweeted his intentions Wednesday and, as you might expect, was inundated with positive responses.
According to MSN on Wednesday, animal lovers and animal rights advocates are removing stray dogs and “smuggling” them out of the city before they are rounded up for mass euthanasia.
The International Olympic Committee has responded to the allegations that the city ordered thousands of strays exterminated by stating that no “healthy” dogs are being killed in Sochi, a report that those on the streets decry as being absolutely untrue.
USA Today ran an article on Monday detailing how to adopt a stray dog from Sochi.
Humane Society International director Kelly O'Meara said that the stray dog stories have touched many, who have now stepped forward and asked how they can help.
“I think it's a situation where everyone's hearing about the very sad and terrible means of killing these dogs and people are feeling a bit helpless in what they can do,” O'Meara said. “This is a life-or-death situation for many of them that are being seen in and around Sochi, and that's why people are sort of jumping in and asking how they can help.”
Stray animals are not the only “blight” that the city has targeted. Hundreds were forcibly evicted from their homes in the months prior to the games, some of them under duress of gunpoint – a story that officials in Sochi have worked very hard to keep holed and cornered.