Sochi's plan to "eliminate" its stray dogs has received lots of pre-Olympic attention.
The city's decision to kill thousands of strays has drawn intense backlash from animal lovers and the media. Vlada Provotorova, a dentist, built a make-shift shelter to house, feed, and sterilize Sochi's strays, telling CNN, "we are protecting them." In an interview with the Boston Globe, Provotorova says that her group of friends and volunteers have been able to save "no more than 100" dogs. She estimates somewhere between 5,000 and 7,000 have been killed under the city government's Olympics-motivated crackdown.
While the Winter Games have turned this local problem into an international story, Dina Filippova, a lawyer and one of Provotorova's volunteers, says its not the Olympics that are creating the problem, but the country's lack of animal rights laws. "In Russia, you can abuse animals and it's not a crime," Filippova tells CNN. "You can buy and adopt an animal and release it on the street, it's not a crime. You have no legal obligation to sterilize your dog or cat."
Earlier this week, Sochi's Olympics organizing committee released a statement, declaring that all stray dogs found inside Olympic Park are collected by a veterinary contractor then released after a health check. One hopes the influx of scrutiny will pressure the city government to improve its policies even post-Olympics. But Provotorova doubts it, telling the Globe, “they won't do anything about it.”
Below, a look at Provotorova's shelter and the strays being found around Sochi's Olympic sites: