With Billionaire's Help, Sochi Strays Escaping Death

Shelter has saved 80 dogs so far

By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff

Posted Feb 6, 2014 9:37 AM CST

(Newser) – Hundreds of stray dogs have been killed ahead of tomorrow's opening ceremony in Sochi, but some may escape that fate thanks to a shelter funded by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska. Volnoe Deloe—or Good Will, roughly—has been grabbing up as many stray dogs as it can around Sochi via a "dog rescue" golf cart. "We were told, 'Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them,'" a rescue coordinator tells the New York Times. "On Monday we were told we have until Thursday." The alternative? Dogs are shot with a chemical that causes them to suffocate, an animal rights activist says. "It's very cruel."

As of yesterday about 80 animals, including a dozen puppies and a large sheep dog that likes to leap up and kiss the volunteers, had been delivered to the shelter, "an outdoor shantytown of doghouses" outside the city, the Times notes. Dogs are then given treatment and vaccinations and made available for adoption. Officials maintain stray dogs are a real problem—CBS News notes one was seen nipping a woman near Olympic Village this week—and say no healthy dogs are being killed. But animal rights activists are saying the Olympics themselves are to blame for many of the strays: They see them as former pets whose owners were forced to move from houses with yards to apartments due to Olympic construction, and abandoned them along the way.

Downhill skiers walk past stray dogs to a ski lift in Sochi, southern Russia, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011.
Downhill skiers walk past stray dogs to a ski lift in Sochi, southern Russia, Saturday, Dec. 24, 2011.   (AP Photo/Igor Yakunin)
Stray dogs sit outside a venue for the snowboarding and freestyle competitions of the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia, Monday, Feb. 3 2014.
Stray dogs sit outside a venue for the snowboarding and freestyle competitions of the 2014 Winter Olympics, in Sochi, Russia, Monday, Feb. 3 2014.   (AP Photo/Pavel Golovkin)
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