Sochi Orders Stray Dog Cull Ahead Of Winter Olympics

Sochi officials have ordered a stray dog cull in anticipation of the 2014 Winter Olympics. Officials hired a pest control company to capture and euthanize thousands of stray dogs that live throughout the region. The plan has drawn outrage from animal rights activists. However, city officials said it is a necessity.

Russia has been plagued with stray dogs for decades. In 2013, Sochi officials said they planned to build a shelter as a solution to the problem. Unfortunately the shelter was never built. Although activists suggested capturing and sterilizing the dogs, officials said it was not a reasonable solution.

Alexei Sorokin, with Basya Services pest control, said the dogs are a nuisance and a threat. He said the dogs are often aggressive and have approached and bitten children. Sorokin said the feral dogs have harmed residents and may pose a threat to Olympic spectators. He said the strays often carry rabies, which can be deadly. According to Time, Sorokin stressed that the stray dogs are not family pets:

"Let's call things by their real name... These dogs are biological trash."
Basya Services has already begun "capturing and disposing" of Sochi's stray dogs. However, Sorokin would not discuss how the animals were being killed. As reported by ABC News, the stray dogs are likely being shot, which is common practice in the region.

Sorokin said he was present during a rehearsal for the Winter Olympics opening ceremony, where a stray dog appeared:

"A dog ran into the Fisht Stadium, we took it away... God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country."
Sochi officials are concerned that the large crowds will attract packs of stray dogs to the Olympic Park, as the dogs often approach crowds for food and attention. The city's dogs often approach construction crews as they are likely to be fed and provided shelter.

Russian lawmaker Sergei Krivonosov supports the cull. He said killing the dogs may not be "the most humane way" to deal with the issue. However, the city has "responsibility to the international community." Krivonsov said a cull "is the quickest way to solve this problem."

Although city officials previously committed to finding a more humane way to deal with the issue, activists said the pest control company is still being used. Sorokin declined to discuss how many dogs his company has killed, as the number is considered a "commercial secret." Sochi's stray dogs are certainly an issue, especially during the Winter Olympics. However, activists would like to help the city find a more humane solution.

[Image via Flickr]