Despite the heavy scrutiny Sochi has been under over the last few months due to Russia’s anti-gay policies, the capture of wild orcas, and the city’s pre-Olympic stray animal cull or “cleaning,” there is still an air of hope and optimism in the air thanks to the kind hearts of some U.S. Olympians.

Since Sochi’s stray animal cull was exposed, outrage was sparked and both local and international citizens jumped into action.

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Some took to Twitter and held Tweet storm campaigns around the hashtags of #SochiDogs and #dogsofSochi in addition to organizating an adorable Instagram photo campaign where dogs came out and told Sochi’s government that they are not “biological trash,” as the director of Basya Services, the company hired to exterminate the strays, stated.

At the local level, animal lovers began rounding up strays to save, some smuggling them out of town, while others, like activist Vlada Provotorova, set up shelters to save as many dogs as possible.

Then, on the Olympic-level, a few athletes decided to open up their hearts and homes by adopting some of Sochi’s strays and giving them the life they truly deserve.

As many already know, silver medal-winning skier Gus Kenworthy announced his adoption of four Sochi strays and their mother last week, posting some too-cute-for-words photos on Twitter and even more “awww” worthy pictures this week:

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Snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis, a silver medal-winner at the 2006 Winter Olympics, has also decided to take home a Sochi stray, and showed off her new adopted pooch on Twitter and Instagram:

Even members of the U.S. men’s Olympic hockey team have shown their compassionate hearts, with David Backes and Kevin Shattenkirk adopting dogs themselves.

Backes reports via the Wall Street Journal that other players on the U.S. hockey team and those from Canada and Slovenia are also “looking into the feasibility of bringing dogs home from Russia with them.”

Now that’s what we like to see! With even just one animal adopted, that’s one animal off the street or out of a shelter, which is always a wonderful thing no matter where it happens in the world. All these Olympians are truly gold medalists at heart!

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Find out how you can help Sochi’s stray animals right here!

Lead image source: Athletes for Animals / Twitter

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