In the past week, Sochi has come under fire for its stray dog program -- in preparation for the Olympic Games, the city has hired exterminators to sweep the streets, laying out poison or traps for the animals. Hundreds of animals have been killed already, and animal rights activists have called out the local authorities and President Vladimir Putin for the barbaric handling of the issue.
But now, volunteers are coming to the rescue, setting up makeshift shelters and caring for the dogs.
"We were told, ‘Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them,' " Olga Melnikova, a rescue worker in Sochi, said to the New York Times. Melnikova is coordinating an effort by Good Will, which is financed by Oleg V. Deripaska, one of Russia's billionaire oligarchs.
A "dog rescue" golf cart is now scouring the Olympic campus, picking up the animals and delivering them to the shelter, which is really an outdoor shantytown of doghouses on a hill on the outskirts of the city. It is being called PovoDog, a play on the Russian word povodok, which means leash. Lying past a cemetery, at the end of a dirt road and without electricity or running water, the makeshift PovoDog shelter is already giving refuge to about 80 animals, including about a dozen puppies. One is a chocolate-colored Shar-Pei and her two mostly Shar-Pei puppies. Another is a large, reddish-brown sheep dog named Kasthan, who likes to jump up and kiss the shelter workers, who are mostly volunteers.