Since coming to the public’s attention, Sochi’s once hushed pre-Olympic stray dog cull has enraged animal lovers across the world.

Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska has rushed to help open Sochi’s very first animal shelter, PovoDog, in an effort to save as many dogs as possible from the city’s contracted culling program. What’s more, it’s been reported that a number of Sochi’s strays are being smuggled out of town by volunteers desperate to offer them a safe haven in loving homes.

Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for Humane Society International (HSI), told NY Daily News that “upward of 5,000 dogs may have already been killed” since the culling began last year. However, the exact numbers cannot yet be confirmed since much of the operation details are still hidden from public eyes.

Alakesi Sorokin, director of Basya Services, the company hired for extermination, was quoted as calling Sochi’s strays “biological trash,” yet the company denies the killing of healthy dogs, “insisting that it placed them in shelters and only disposed of animals found dead in the streets,” according to Radio Free Europe.

However, as a CTV News expose revealed, healthy animals are indeed being culled, with evidence collected by concerned locals via video and photographs of the cull’s victims.

Speak up against this cruelty and lend your voice to Sochi’s strays by taking action through the following steps below.

1. Sign Petitions and Send Messages

  • Sign Care2’s petition urging Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, to stop the killing of stray cats and dogs in Sochi.
  • Sign HSI’s petition telling the IOC to “heed its creed and never allow for such cruelty under its watch again.”
  • Tell the Sochi Organization Committee via an online contact form that you do not support this cruelty and neither should the committee.
  • Contact the City of Sochi via email and politely ask that the local government sever ties with the company in charge of stray animal extermination and instead use the money for more effective population management methods like a proper city shelter and/or trap-neuter-release programs. You may also send letters with similar sentiments to the Sochi City Administration: 26 Sovestskaya St. 35400 Sochi, Krasnodar Krai, Russia.

2. Adopt

If you are interested in adopting a stray from Sochi and are or plan to be in Russia, HSI has set up a step-by-step guide for potential adoptees. Below, you can find a break-down of the basic steps you will need to follow, as taken from the HSI page. However, please be sure to visit the full guide for additional information prior to starting the adoption process.

  1. Visit the Centers for Disease Control website to learn about all paperwork, vaccinations, etc. necessary for transporting a dog to the United States.
  2. If transporting an animal to another country, contact that country’s embassy in Russia to find out more about its pet transport requirements.
  3. While still in Russia, visit a local, licensed veterinarian to obtain a health exam for your dog, along with the needed health certificates and vaccinations for your pet’s air travel and importation. Local veterinarians will also know where pet kennels can be purchased.
  4. Contact your airline ahead of time to ensure it permits the transport of pets (and reserve a spot) and what requirements are for boarding your pet. Reservations are often needed for your pet’s travel. Specifically approved airline travel pet kennels are often required as well.

3. Donate to Animal Protection Causes Working to Protect Strays Worldwide

  • Become a Street Dog Defender through the HSI by making an online contribution.
  • Support the work of the World Society for the Protection of Animals in ending inhumane culling worldwide.
  • Help the International Fund of Animal Welfare (IFAW) through a donation to assist them in providing humane solutions to communities struggling with cat and dog overpopulation.
  • Activist Vlada Provotorova runs an independent shelter in Sochi and recently saved 30 dogs. She is currently raising funds to expand and sustain her work. Find out how you can help here.

Image source: Andrey / Wikipedia Commons