U.S. shows appreciation for animals at Games

It appears Russia has a problem with animal control. World news first reported the large number of stray dogs roaming the streets of Sochi prior to the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Winter Olympics.

Because of the preparations and construction that was done for the games, many people were displaced from their homes. News reports explain that many of the families forced to relocate simply left their animals behind. Typical of any abandoned animal, these dogs roam the streets begging for food and, naturally, multiplied.

The local government realized it could not have droves of stray dogs roaming the streets during this world event, and hired a private company to come in and “cull,” according to the Humane Society International’s website.

The company was instructed to kill as many dogs as possible in order to beautify and sanitize Sochi. Their method of exterminating the creatures they referred to as “biological trash,” was through poisoned darts, suffocating the animals to death. The outcry at these preposterous actions has filled headlines around the world.

Many athletes, including Colorado’s slopestyle skiing silver medalist Gus Kenworthy, are attempting to adopt some of these dogs. There are also YouTube videos depicting compassionate locals smuggling dogs out of the area at night to prevent their imminent deaths. Most of the dogs are not wild or feral. Many were family pets, now displaced.

Unfortunately, the extermination of the dogs was completely avoidable. Humane Society International works around the world to address street dog population problems. Its website explains how they work with governments, organizations and communities to incorporate animal sterilization, vaccination and community education.

Humane Society International contacted Sochi officials last year offering assistance to set up such a program but were assured by local officials that they had the problem under control.

This is not the first incident of mass animal killings preceding an Olympic games. In the 2004 games, Greek authorities ordered the poisoning of 15,000 stray dogs prior to the summer Olympics in Athens. Before the Beijing Summer Olympics in 2008, Chinese leaders deemed its bulging cat population a serious health risk, confiscating and slowly disposing of more than 500,000 cats.

All this cruelty was preventable. As ludicrous as it sounds, if a population must be “culled,” at least officials could have had the decency to mercifully kill the animals, not torture them to death. 

Why does the International Olympic Committee allow this carnage to occur, especially when it could be avoided. Our athletes deserve the recognition of accomplishing their goals without the distraction of trying to adopt stray dogs.

Humane Society International has a link on its website (his.org) to a pre-written letter to the International Olympic Committee voicing concern over the its negligence regarding this mass animal slaughter.

Fortunately, we live in a country that not only provides some of the finest athletes in the world, but also recognizes the importance of educating the public on co-existing with animals.

Thank you to all the outstanding talent representing the United States during the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, and thank you for the compassion you’ve extended to the displaced dogs of Sochi.

Charlé Thibodeau has been passionate pet caregiver for more than 30 years and is the owner of Ah, Natural! Ltd. If you have a pets question you would like Thibodeau to answer in her column, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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