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US Olympians Adopting Dogs From Sochi

This article originally appeared on Dr. Mahaney’s Pet-Lebrity News column on as US Olympians Adopting Dogs From Sochi .

Pet lovers on a world-wide basis were horrified to learn of the Russian government’s attempt to cull populations of street dogs in anticipation of the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics.

The Huffington Post article Sochi City Hall Orders Killing Of Stray Dogs details the attempts to reduce Sochi’s stray canine population. The director general of Baysa Services (a pest control firm), Alexi Sorikin, indicated that his company is under contract to capture and dispose of more dogs during the Olympics. It’s not clear as to the means by which the dogs are euthanized, yet termination by shooting is reportedly a common practice.

Evidently, there is a problem with current population of stray dogs roaming Sochi’s streets, as humans are reportedly being bitten. Dog bites create an increased concern for public health risks, including the spread of zoonotic diseases like Rabies virus and bacteria capable of causing severe infection.

Reportedly, sightings of stray dogs occur in a variety of public settings, including Fisht Stadium, the venue for the Sochi Olympic’s opening ceremony. During an rehearsal, Sorokin tells of “a dog who ran into the Fisht Stadium, we took it away” and additionally states "God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country.”

Sergei Krivonosov, a lawmaker from the Krasnodar region which includes Sochi, supports the practice of culling dogs and says that doing so is Russia's "responsibility to the international community and that their elimination is the quickest way to solve this problem." He also expressed that culling is "not the most humane way" of managing the street dog issue and the use of dog shelters should be encouraged. Up to the start of the Olympics, animal activists indicated that no animal shelter has been built to house the dogs as an alternative to euthanasia.

Fortunately, competing American athletes have taken it upon themselves to provide forever homes to canines in need. Gus Kenworthy, a slopestyle skier and 2014 Olympic silver medalist, is reportedly bringing home multiple puppies and has delayed his return to the U.S. to complete the appropriate paperwork for their importation.

Kenworthy has taken to social media to share the adorable photos of him and the puppies. Via his @GusKenworthy Twitter handle, the following tweets and cute pictures have been seen on a world-wide basis:

puppy love is real to puppies.

Fell asleep last night with Rosa :) Thanks for the pic @robindmacdonald! (Picture seen here)

An American, and Animal, Hero

Kenworthy spoke to Today’s Natalie Morales and said “I just posted these and said, ‘Yeah I want to bring these home with me,’ and it was insane, just the amount of outreach I got from people.”

Kenworthy found a fan in his fellow American pop princess Miley Cyrus, who used her @MyleyCyrus account to tweet:

4 reasons to follow @guskenworthy (❤️ melts into 1,001 pieces)

Beside Cyrus, Kenworthy’s efforts have attracted attention from Oleg Deripaska, a Russian billionaire who is financially backing an animal shelter that’s been set up to care for many of the street dogs of Sochi. Deripaska is also helping Kenworthy to prepare the puppies for their travel to the U.S. and plans to open a new shelter to house 250 canines in need.

More U.S. Olympians are joining Kentorthy’s humanitarian efforts, including snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, who posted many photos of her adopted pooch on her Instagram account. I especially love this one from their layover in Denver.

U.S. hockey player David Backes and his wife Kelly use their foundation, Athletes for Animals, to help promote rescue, adoption, and responsible pet-ownership on a national and world-wide basis.

With so many great stories of human achievement coming out the 2014 Olympic Winter Games, it’s also inspiring to hear of the efforts the athletes undertake to help animals that otherwise would likely be put to sleep or at least have a poorer quality of life.

Thank you for reading this article. Your questions and comments are completely welcome (I’ll respond).
Please feel free to communicate with me through Twitter (@PatrickMahaney) and follow my adventures in veterinary medicine by liking Patrick Mahaney: Veterinarian Acupuncture Pain Management for Your Pets on Facebook.
Copyright of this article (2014) is owned by Dr Patrick Mahaney, Veterinarian and Certified Veterinary Acupuncturist. Republishing any portion of this article must first be authorized by Dr Patrick Mahaney. Requests for republishing must be approved by Dr Patrick Mahaney and received in written format.

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