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Olympic athletes come to the rescue of Sochi's stray dogs

Stray dogs seen around Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, during the Winter Games.
Stray dogs seen around Olympic Park in Sochi, Russia, during the Winter Games.
Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images

Many of us have seen the pics on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook: Adorable stray dogs roaming the street of Sochi, Russia, during the Winter Olympic Games. Only in Sochi for two or three weeks, US Olympic athletics are bringing back more than medals and memories of these Olympics. They are bringing these dogs to the US to give them a home and a better life.

Many US athletes are bringing dogs back from Sochi. Gus Kenworthy, ski slopestyle, may have become more famous for his adorable Twitter photos of four puppies than for his silver medal finish. He and his family are adopting the four puppies and their mother. Lindsey Jacobellis, snowboard cross, has also brought back a Sochi dog along with several members of the US hockey team.

All this Olympic attention has introduced many to a new animal adoption support organization. Athletes for Animals is a recent non-profit created by David and Kelly Backes along with their friends and teammates. David Backes is the captain of the St. Louis Blues of the NHL and played for Team USA in Sochi. He and his wife Kelly have been passionate about animal rescue and pet adoption since they met in college and have continued to help animals in St. Louis area. Athletes for Animals was founded in November 2013, but the 2014 Sochi Olympics have introduced the organization to the world. The Backes are working to find homes for several of the dogs they found in Sochi and some of Backes’ teammates are getting involved.

Other Athlete Ambassadors involved in the organization are Barret Jackman of the St. Louis Blues, Brad Thompson and Kyle McClellan, both former MLB pitchers, David Perron of the Edmonton Oilers, Erik Johnson of the Colorado Avalanche, Jake Long and James Laurinaitis of the St. Louis Rams, Mark Buehrle of the Toronto Blue Jays, Trevor Cahill of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Tyson Strachan of the Washington Capitals and Jessica Schultz of the US Olympic curling team.

On March 16, the organization will host the Stars of Sochi events featuring Olympic hockey players Alex Petrangelo, Kevin Shattenkirk, Patrik Berglund, Vladimir Tarasenko David Backes and many others. The event will be held at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar in St. Louis and all proceeds will benefit Athletes for Animals. Tickets are $175 per person.

To learn more about Athletes for Animals, visit the organization’s website and learn about the cause of responsible pet ownership and ways to adopt pets around the US.

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