After Sochi officials announced that the host-city will be killing 2,000 stray dogs in preparation for the games, and after global opposition has risen for the inhumane treatment of Russia’s street animals, Russian animal lovers – not necessarily animal rescuers by profession – have taken it upon themselves to rescue as many street dogs as they can.
Regular citizens and compassionate animal lovers have turned into dog smugglers, and in the middle of the night, they drive hundreds of kilometers from their homes to Sochi. All with the sole purpose of saving pets.
Igor Airapetyan is one of those heroes. After reading a social media plea to save the Sochi dogs, the compassionate man enlisted the help of his father and friend to travel 1,600 kilometers from Moscow to Sochi, to save stray canines.
On a YouTube video posted by The Moscow Times, Airapetyan recounts how he took off on the adventure. He had no money to fund the trip, but thanks to other concerned animal lovers who sent him donations, he was able to arrive at Sochi and save 11 dogs.
A local news station filmed him with the 11 dogs in his car.
Yahoo News reports that other Russian animal activists have organized an underground network to save as many animals as possible. Every night, people travel to Sochi collecting street dogs and dropping them off at assigned safe houses, temporary fosters and forever homes.
Many pet lovers are simply making the trip to save the animals, bring them to their own homes, and then try to find them forever homes.
Sochi officials released a press release announcing the opening of a dog pound, but this is yet to be constructed.