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Sochi hires company to "clean" the city of stray dogs before the Olympics

Sochi has hung out a "Welcome" banner which conceals the dark side of the 2014 Winter Olympics host.
Sochi has hung out a "Welcome" banner which conceals the dark side of the 2014 Winter Olympics host.
various photographers

Last April, the city of Sochi, home to the 2014 Winter Olympics, announced it would be “culling” about 2,000 stray dogs that roam the city streets. After appeals from around the world, Sochi government officials publicly backed down from its plan, and said it would, instead, open a shelter for the animals. But instead, the city quietly hired a private company to “cull” the unfortunate homeless dogs.

According to a Russian business newspaper, city officials will spend spend about $54,000 on catching and killing strays.

In an interview with the RBC Daily, local official Sergei Krivonosov said “It’s obvious that there should be no animals on the street. We have responsibilities to the international community. Killing is just a faster way to solve this task.”

The city has hired Basia Services to complete the task of “cleaning” the city before visitors to the 2014 Olympics arrives. The owner of the company, Alexei Sorokin said his company generally uses poisons and traps to kill the dogs, but he doesn’t think such methods constitute animal cruelty. He described his work as a public service, referring to the dogs “biological trash”.

Local activists staged a protest in April, 2013 calling for the animals to be sterilized or put into a shelter. One of the organizers of the protest, Olga Noskovets, said that the city authorities regularly use poison to control strays, often leading to an even greater public health hazard.

"They put down poison in the street, and cats, dogs and birds die within a couple of hours, right in front of everyone s eyes," she said."Then this poison runs off into the sea, while the bodies go into landfills."

Homeless animals are numerous in Russia, where pets are routinely abandoned to fend for themselves. Spaying and neutering are expensive procedures and sterilization is not common.

Several petitions have been started to urge Sochi official to halt the slaughter and seek alternative solutions. And while many animal lovers have vowed to boycott the Games, a Facebook page has been set up asking people to go to Sochi to adopt a homeless dog or cat.

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