Russia's Stray Dogs - What Sochi Authorities Did Not Want Guests to See
Animal lovers all over the world were outraged this past week after learning that Sochi officials planned to kill 2,000 stray dogs found near or in the Olympic villages. The dogs were fed by construction workers during the project and just "stayed".
A common Moscow sight - stray dogs sleeping in a park photo credit: Andrey, Russia
While the Sochi dogs seem to be getting a break thanks to the Olympic media attention don't be fooled into thinking this is an isolated problem.
I remember my first day in Moscow riding to the hotel I couldn't believe the number of stray dogs I noticed on the streets along the way. (There are an estimated 35,000 - 1 for every 300 Moscow residents). Most are pets or the off spring of pets that have been abandoned.
The shocking thing is that this is not something that you find in just Russia's huge metros. Nine time zones away in Siberia we saw dogs hanging out in the alley outside orphanage fences and in other places around the city.
The Russians I met did not seem to notice them - it's like they are just part of the landscape. But clearly it's a part that didn't fit with the image of a modern and sophisticated Russia the "New Olympic Sochi" is supposed to communicate. Which ironically has backfired and done the opposite due to the extermination plan.
Personally I like the historic Russia I discovered with it's charm and quirks like street dogs. It is what makes it interesting to discover.
In Moscow there is even a group of street dogs who have actually mastered the city metro system - riding along with people! Now that's a story that leaves an impression of greatness. "Dogs in Moscow are among the world's most intelligent".
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