Sochi hires firm to kill stray dogs

Annie Yoskoski, Managing Editor

Anyone who is paying attention to the Olympic coverage in Sochi, Russia has heard a lot of disturbing things. Activists are being beaten, accommodations aren’t safe or sanitary, and the city wasn’t ready for the Olympics.

The most shocking thing to most patrons, however, is that stay dogs in Sochi were being killed en masse. It’s important to point out that these are not just a few dogs that are classified as “stray.”

These are thousands of dogs, being gunned down, or poisoned with food and darts. The poison causes the dogs to suffocate.

Many Eastern countries have a different outlook than most Westerners when it comes to “homeless” animals. Stray dogs are a common sight in metropolitan Russia, and many of them are “adopted” by the community at large, different houses leaving out food and water.

In Turkey, thousands of cats roam the streets and work as pest control while being fed by private citizens.

The firm that was hired to kill the animals, Basya Service, made a statement about the dogs to ABC News. The owner, Alexei Sorokin, said he felt his firm was performing a public service. He referred to the dogs as “biological trash” and insisted that calling them trash was “what they really were”.

It has been estimated, according to a report by The Boston Globe, that between 5,000 and 7,000 dogs have been killed. Russia has attempted mass extermination of dogs in the past, but international outcry delayed the plans.

As a reasonable human, I understand the danger of disease, fleas or even rabies emanating from stray dogs. That same human reasoning, however, along with my admittedly Western view of domesticated animals, sees what is happening in Sochi as a travesty.

Some protesters have been outraged at the level of care for the dogs and accused people of ignoring human rights. I don’t think that is the case at all. An adult human, for the most part, has the ability to stand up for his or her self.

As a culture many Westerners, especially Americans, see animals in a light that echoes one of small children: defenseless, helpless, and naive. Full disclosure: I am one of those people who can’t watch a movie where a dog is hurt. Sarah McGlauchlin’s commercial for the SPCA makes me choke up. But even if I weren’t an animal lover, I would still advocate for a different alternative.

No one would be able to convince me that not one single human being could want to adopt these dogs. In fact, the outcry from reporters brought the situation to the attention of a Russian billionaire (and owner of the charity Volnoe Delo), Oleg Deripaska, who has funded a rescue mission called PovoDog.

Olga Melnikova, the woman in charge of the tactical aspect of the rescue, claimed in an interview with The New York Times that she was told, “Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them” by government officials.

Many athletes and patrons of the games have also stepped up to give these dogs new homes, including skier Lindsey Vonn. There are loving homes for these animals.

The communities of the world coming together and rallying for one cause just demonstrates that humanity, in spite of various homelands, has a collective sympathy and protective instinct toward injustice of the worst kind.

The draconian regime Putin has created doesn’t value the life of any breathing, thinking mammal. While many animals are put down in the United States every year by the SPCA, at least they were given a chance to live instead of being shot on site akin to some sort of monster.

Objectively, I cannot see any situation in which killing thousands of helpless animals is just.