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Sochi Orders Stray Dogs Cull Before Olympics
Thousands of stray dogs are being killed in Sochi so visitors to the Winter Olympics are not bothered by them.
Until now, the dogs have been living amid the mud and rubble of Olympic construction sites, roaming the streets and snowy mountainsides.
But as the Games draw near, Sochi authorities have commissioned a company to catch and kill the animals so they do not create a nuisance.
Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, said his company was involved in the "catching and disposing" of dogs and had a contract to cull more of them during the Games.
He would not specify how the dogs would be killed or where the carcasses would be taken.
The dogs have been causing numerous problems, Mr Sorokin said, including "biting children".
He said he was astonished last week when he attended a rehearsal for the opening ceremony and saw a stray dog walking in on the performers.
"A dog ran into the Fisht Stadium, we took it away," he said.
"God forbid something like this happens at the actual opening ceremony. This will be a disgrace for the whole country."
The strays tend to gather near construction sites where they have been given food and shelter by workers.
They have even been able to get inside the Olympic Park and accredited hotel complexes and villages, in the coastal cluster of arenas and venues up in the mountains.
Animal activists are angry at the cull.
Dog lover Dina Filippova is among the opponents and says city authorities are using the Olympics as an excuse to cover an ongoing practice.
"We should understand that it is done not only before the Olympics but constantly," she said from central Sochi, where she was trying to find homes for seven puppies she had recently rescued near the Olympic Park.
"Two killers from that company work for the city to kill 300 dogs a month.
"It is not humane.
"There is a humane way of solving the problem of stray dogs which is used in Europe and the US and even in some countries of the former Soviet Union - that is a mass sterilisation which eventually leads to no stray dogs on the streets."
Sochi city hall last year announced a contract "to catch and dispose" of strays in the city.
Animal activists protested against the move and authorities pledged to give up the practice and build animal shelters for strays instead.
The protesters say there is no evidence a shelter has been built.
But the city hall said in a statement on its website that it opened a dog shelter for 100 animals on Monday.
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