Meet the stray dogs Sochi's trying to get rid of

#SochiStrays are winning over journalists

By Lindsay Abrams

Published February 7, 2014 5:32PM (EST)

Sochi has a dog problem. It began as the problem of getting rid of the city's thousands of strays in the months leading up to the Olympics. And now it's the problem of defending itself against animal rights activists (and most people who like dogs), who were shocked to hear that the animals were being rounded up and slaughtered.

A Russian billionaire, among other activists, has rushed to the dogs' defense, opening a shelter to help get them off the streets before the games officially begin. “We were told, ‘Either you take all the dogs from the Olympic Village or we will shoot them,’" one of the shelter's coordinators told the New York Times.

Officials say something has to be done: a horrified pest control director told the Associated Press about how one of the dogs had stormed the Olympic stadium during rehearsals for the opening ceremony. “God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony," he said. "This will be a disgrace for the whole country.”

Sorokin also warned of the potential danger of the strays wandering onto ski courses -- something that's already come to pass:

But of the many things journalists have been finding to complain about in Sochi, they've mostly taken to the strays. "They're cute and look like pets," wrote one NPR reporter. When violence breaks out among the packs of wandering dogs, she wrote, "it's loud but ultimately more dog park than street fight."

And to their credit, it's hard to believe that anyone would want to kill these guys:

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