News & Politics

Sochi Government Hires Exterminator to Kill Stray Dogs Before Olympics

The culling of stray and abandoned animals has ignited outrage in the past.

Russian officials intend to clear Sochi's streets of thousands of stray dogs by exterminating them before the Winter Olympics. Packs of dogs are said to wander the streets, living among the rubble of construction sites. They survive by scavenging and begging for food scraps.

A pest-control company told The Associated Press that it has previously exterminated dogs for the city and has a contract for the “catching and disposing” of them for the Olympics. The company would not reveal how they exterminate the dogs or how they would dispose of the carcasses. The company's executive director justifies the killing of the animals, saying that the strays bite small children.

Amid controversy, Sochi canceled a program to dispose of more than 2,000 stray dogs and cats last year. Sochi backed down, saying it would build shelters for strays, although animal rights activists say there is no evidence that it has made good on that pledge.

The “culling” of stray dogs is a common practice in Russia, according to the AP. Calls to deal with strays humanely by sterilizing them has fallen on the deaf ears of Russian officials in the past.

This is not the first time the killing of strays has ignited controversy. Before the 2008 Olympics in Beijing, China, it was rumored that hundreds of thousands of abandoned cats were killed in secretive government pounds. Many cats were abandoned when the Chinese government warned owners that their pets could be carriers of diseases, such as the deadly SARS virus.


Cliff Weathers is a former senior editor at AlterNet and served as a deputy editor at Consumer Reports. Twitter @cliffweathers.


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