Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 16 September 2014

Sochi orders killing of stray dogs

A stray dog walks outside the Ice Dome venue as preparations take place for the 2014 Winter Olympics (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky)

A pest control company which kills stray dogs in Russia has said it has a contract to exterminate more of the animals throughout the Winter Olympics.

Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, said his company is involved in what he described as the "catching and disposing" of dogs. He refused to specify whether it shoots or poisons dogs or say where the carcasses are taken.

Thousands of stray dogs are roaming the streets of Sochi, Mr Sorokin said, and some of them are "biting children".

Mr Sorokin said he attended a rehearsal of the Olympic opening ceremony and saw a stray dog walking in on the performers.

He said: "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."

Stray dogs are not uncommon in Sochi and the surrounding area, and many tend to gather near construction sites where they are likely to get food and shelter from workers. They have even been able to get inside the Olympic Park.

Mr Sorokin's company operates in the Krasnodar region, which encompasses Sochi and the neighbouring area. He refused to say how many dogs they kill a year, calling it "a commercial secret".

Sochi city hall last year announced a contract "to catch and dispose" of stray dogs in Sochi but animal activists protested the move. Authorities pledged to give up the practice and build animal shelters for stray dogs instead.

Activists say there is no evidence that a shelter has been built. The city hall would not immediately respond to calls and emails seeking comment.

Shooting stray dogs has been common practice in many Russian regions despite activists' efforts to push authorities for more humane ways of dealing with the issue.

AP

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