A police officer with a sniffer dog and security guards Tuesday check a bus entering the Olympic Park that is under construction for the 2014 Winter Games, in the Black Sea resort of Sochi, Russia. In the wake of the Boston Marathon bombings, officials here said security will be tightened even more. / Artur Lebedev, AP
After Sochi officials announced on Wednesday its plans to kill more than 2,000 stray cats and dogs before the 2014 Winter Olympics, the CEO of Humane Society International criticized the city's strategy.
"It's an attempt to beautify the problem and in effect it gives a rather graphic and horrific (picture of the city)," said Andrew Rowan, who is also The Humane Society of the United States' chief scientific officer.
The stray animals will be exterminated to ensure the safety of visitors and improve the city's image, Sergei Krivonosov, a government official from Sochi, said in an interview with RBC Daily, a Russian business newspaper."It's obvious that there should be no animals on the streets. We have responsibilities to the international community," the lawmaker said. "Killing (the animals) is just a faster way to solve this task." he said
Krivonosov added that he did not agree with the decision, but shelters would be a strain on city finances. Sochi is budgeting about $54,000 for "work to catch and dispose of" the strays, according to the official Russian website for open tenders. However, in other areas, Sochi is sparing no expense. It is spending more than $50 billion on preparations, more than any other Olympics in history.
Animal rights activists have begun to mobilize. Olga Noskovets, who organized a rally, said killing animals is an ineffective way to control its population.
"For some time, there will visually be fewer of them, but it won't solve the problem," she said. "Moreover, if you kill dogs and cats, the rat population starts to increase rapidly."
Humane Society International has introduced a successful and cost effective method to control stray populations around the world by catching strays, spaying and neutering them, vaccinating them with a rabies shot and then releasing them, Rowan told USA TODAY Sports Wednesday.
For cities with large stray population, the issue is not a new one in advance of hosting a major sporting event. Heading into the European Championships last summer in Ukraine, Kiev said it would ban the killing of stray dogs under pressure from animal rights groups and UEFA, the governing body for European football. Before the 2004 Athens Olympics, animal activists were outraged about rumors that the government planned to exterminate thousands of stray dogs roaming the city's streets.
If public pressure increases, how will the city respond? Especially since government officials see the Olympics as a chance to show the world a "new Russia."
Then, there's this: A few weeks ago Russia's news agency released several photos of president Vladimir Putin frolicking in a snowy field with his dogs, Buffy, a Bulgarian shepherd, and Yume, a Japanese Akita Inu. For years his beloved black Labrador, Koni, now advanced in age, has been at his side, greeting world leaders. Clearly, Russia's steely leader is a dog lover.
Copyright 2013 USATODAY.com
Read the original story: Stray animal extermination to safeguard Sochi Olympics