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Despite public opposition and outrage from animal rights activists, Sochi, Russia has quietly hired an independent company to take care of the city’s overwhelming stray dog problem – using any means necessary – in preparation for the upcoming 2014 Winter Olympics.
According to multiple reports, the government sought bids from “dog hunters” who could carry out the job to “dispose of” the city’s about 2,000 stray dogs between 5 a.m. and 8 a.m. each day, offering 1.7 million Rubles (or, roughly $48,000).
The owner of Basia Services Extermination Company, the company hired to handle the problem, Alexei Sorokin, told ABC News in defense of his company’s actions, “let’s call things by their real name. These dogs are biological trash.” (Clearly, we’re not dealing with a dog lover here.)
Sorokin explained that his company was hired as a “public service,” to protect residents and visitors to Sochi. “I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs,” he said.
Sorokin’s company uses poison and traps to eliminate the thousands of stray dogs roaming the city, but denies allegations of animal abuse.
Several reporters covering the Winter Olympic preparations in Sochi Tweeted photos of dogs in the city:
Stray puppy dogs have an automatic accreditation in the Sochi Olympic village pic.twitter.com/VGpQ0oK82W
— Alicia Kendig (@Sport_NutriLish) January 30, 2014
Another reported seeing multiple stray dogs outside his hotel and described the dogs as gentle:
— Andrew Chang (@AndrewChangCBC) February 1, 2014
While the homeless dog population in Sochi is clearly a real problem for the city, advocates propose that killing off and disposing of the current stray dogs will only temporarily fix the problem.
“Russia, in general, has irresponsible dog owners who, when they get bored of their home pet experiment, kick them out on the street,” Sorokin explained to ABC News. “So parks are dumping grounds for unwanted dogs. We end up with many stray dogs who pose a threat to population.”
Perhaps the city’s funds would be better spent on spay and neuter programs that prevent the problem from redeveloping in the near future and on educating dog owners on proper care of their pets.