The city of Sochi has hired a private company to kill as many stray dogs as possible before the Winter Olympics, it has been claimed.
Describing the animals as ‘biological trash’, the owner of the company has reportedly admitted being tasked with using poison and traps to rid the city of stray dogs before thousands of tourists and competitors arrive for the Games’ opening ceremony next Friday.
The news will anger animal rights campaigners who thought Sochi officials had abandoned plans to exterminate the stray dogs following widespread protests last year.
Speaking to ABC News, the owner of Basia Services extermination company Alexei Sorokin claimed the animals were a realistic threat to the Games.
‘Imagine if during an Olympic Games a ski jumper landed at 130KPH (80 MPH) and a dog runs into him when he lands. It would be deadly for both the jumper and the stray dog,’ he said.
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Describing his work as a public service to prevent ‘an epidemic of rabies’, Sorokin added: ‘I am for the right of people to walk the streets without fear of being attacked by packs of dogs’.
Although he denied suggestions of animal cruelty, Sorokin admitted his company mainly uses poison and traps to kill the dogs, before adding: ‘Let’s call these things by their real name. These dogs are biological trash’.
He also reportedly claimed that Basia Services were called in only after a city-backed programme to have the stray dogs adopted failed to attract interest.
Basia Services is one of Russia’s largest extermination companies specialising in dog removal, although an ever-worsening problem with strays has seen smaller business and even vigilante groups spring up across the country.
In the capital Moscow, there have been battles between animal rights groups and citizen ‘dog hunters’, who leave poison-laced meat in parks where stray dogs are known to gather.
Russia’s stray dog problem appears to stem from decades of animals being dumped on the streets when their owners realise they can no longer afford to keep them.
These dogs then breed among themselves, giving rise to a population of animals that have never been properly domesticated.