Sochi strays smuggled out of town

2014-02-11 21:10
Animal activist Yulia Krasova, sits with a stray Rottweiler she brought out of Sochi to a rendezvous point 120km away where fellow activists exchange dog food and medicines to be taken back into Sochi with strays on their way to homes in Moscow. (Dav

Animal activist Yulia Krasova, sits with a stray Rottweiler she brought out of Sochi to a rendezvous point 120km away where fellow activists exchange dog food and medicines to be taken back into Sochi with strays on their way to homes in Moscow. (Dav

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

kalahari.com

Sochi - Alexei stops in his tracks as he sees a half-breed Labrador snooping around at a cafe's back door.

The dog comes obediently on his whistle. Alexei strokes it and in one swift movement takes it in his arms like a newborn baby.

Rushing past surprised passers-by, Alexei carries the equally-surprised dog to his car parked around the corner and places it gently on the back seat.

Alexei is one of a dozen people in the emerging movement of animal activists in Sochi alarmed by reports that the city has contracted the killing of thousands of stray dogs before and during the Olympic Games. Activists have been picking up dogs from the streets and putting them up at their homes or in temporary shelters before finding an owner elsewhere.

Alexei spoke on condition his full name was not used because he feared repercussions from his employers.

Stray dogs are a common sight on the streets of Russian cities, but with massive construction in the area the street dog population in Sochi and the Olympic park has soared. Useful as noisy, guard dogs, workers feed them to keep them nearby and protect buildings. The dogs - friendly rather than feral - soon lose their value and become strays.

Tonight, a few dogs will be taken on their way to a new life.

Alexei's wife Dina Fillipova has spotted a stray in the central Sochi neighbourhood of Svetlana. Once Alexei has picked up the Labrador, the couple heads for two safe houses. One, in a central neighbourhood , is lined with palm trees. The other is at the top of a windy pot-holed road with overgrown gardens. Four helpless puppies wait to be collected at one and a stubborn stray at the other.

"I like dogs but that's not the point," Fillipova says. "You know, even if you don't like children and don't want to have one, when you see a baby lying on the street bleeding or find out about maniacs hunting for children, you would want to do something to help."

Dina and Alexei park in a back alley in the Sochi suburb of Dagomys well past midnight, waiting for a middle-man. A Soviet-designed SUV pulls up. The driver shakes Alexei's hand, and the men hurry to open the trunks. The adult dogs - and a carrier with the puppies - are put into the SUV, much to the amazement of two late night drinkers stumbling by.

Checkpoint

"They must be expensive," one man says, nodding towards the unwanted mongrels. Alexei's long night is over and he can return home.

The mission to be accomplished now is 120km away along the Black Sea coast.

The dog-laden car travels 100km on a windy road past round-the-clock stalls selling honey, jam and nuts to reach a checkpoint where trucks and cars line up to get into the Sochi area. This is the Games' ring of steel which is supposed to keep Sochi terrorism-free, allowing in only cars with local number plates or with Olympic accreditation.

A dozen kilometres before the check-point is the closest Igor Airapetian, a softly-spoken retired businessman, can get to Sochi in his SUV with Moscow number plates.

It's three in the morning and the dog activists pull up at a deserted plaza in the town of Tuapse. A smiling Airapetian shakes the driver's hand. Airapetian's friend, Zamir Aslanov, who has been driving the arduous 1 600km from Moscow, is dizzy with exhaustion. It will now be Airapetian's turn to drive back.

"It was just a coincidence," Airapetian says when asked why he decided to help taking out dogs from Sochi. "I saw that post [in the social media] and decided to help."

Airapetian unloads the back of his car, choked full with dog food and medicines. It's not only the handover of dogs, but an exchange of goods. Airapetian is elated: "My beauties!"

Asked about the future of the dogs, Airapetian comes up with a long list and details of breeders and ordinary people who will be taking the dogs.

The silence in the plaza is broken by the arrival of a three-door red car. A petite blonde gets out of her car. It's all wet noses and tails inside. One of the five dogs she has brought is a Rottweiler.

"People buy bred dogs, play with them and then throw them away," Yulia Krasova, a 30-year-old travel agent, explains.

Left behind

Sochi is flooded with stray dogs but activists also lament the attitudes of Russians who tend to treat dogs as a toy that can be easily discarded.

"Dogs live on construction sites, workers feed them, give them names," Fillipova says. "Once the construction is over the dogs are left behind."

Two more cars arrive at the plaza at four in the morning. Another woman in a down jacket comes out. Fifteen or so dogs will head back towards Moscow, some of them to be dropped off with new owners on the way.

Igor hopes that the international media attention that Sochi's strays have received could prompt Russian officials across the country to end the cruel treatment of dogs.

Sochi city hall, when asked for comment on dog killings, responded by posting a press release announcing the opening of a dog pound.

"I hope what we've seen here is not going to happen again," Airapetian says.

- AP

Read more on:    sochi olympics  |  russia  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
10 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
 

ANCYL: Not voting would be blasphemy

Not voting in the forthcoming elections would be blasphemy, the ANCYL says in a statement commemorating the 50th anniversary of struggle icon Nelson Mandela's Rivonia trial speech.

 
 

Latest elections multimedia

Why Jack Parow wants you to vote on 7 May
The ad the SABC doesn't want to air
Elections 2014 in one cartoon
This year's election posters
 
Traffic
Lottery
 
  • Thursday Sir Lowry's Pass - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Old Sir Lowrys Pass Road
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Bezweni Road
  • Thursday Cape Town - 05:35 AM
    Road name: Buitengracht Street
    TRAFFIC LIGHTS not working at Waterkant Street
 
More traffic reports...
 

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Escape winter, head to Mauritius

Escape winter by spending 7 nights in Mauritius' tropical bliss from R13 215 per person sharing. Includes return flights, airport transfers and accommodation. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Get many eggs in one basket!

Gaming bundles: 2 Super Hits games for R99, 3 Disney games for R99 and more + exclusive accessory bundles only available on kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

25% off bestselling books!

The Real Meal Revolution by Tim Noakes, Jeffrey Archer’s Be Careful What You Wish for, Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frank and many more titles. Shop now!

Up to 25% off electronics

Buy top electronics and save up to 25%. Such as kalahari.com’s 1# selling product the gobii eReader, Patriot X Porter flash drive, Asus Nexus 7” 3G tablet, Samsung Galaxy SIII, Lenovo G580 Notebook and many more. Shop now!

DStv HD PVR Decoder now R949

The DStv HD PVR Decoder has further revolutionised the television experience with lifelike viewing, sharper images, more vibrant colours and precision picture quality. Now R949, save R550. Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 30% off appliances & homeware

Save up to 30% on appliances and homeware this Easter! Offer valid while stocks last. Shop now.

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Nokia E7

Your mobile office Real-time emails with Mail for Exchange. Easy access to...

From R3499.00

I'm shopping for:

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

There may be a break through, either through quiet contemplative time to connect to your deep side or forced on you by...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.