Why this traveler will never set foot in Sochi, Part 2

The other day I wrote about why visiting Sochi, Russia — home of the Winter Olympics — would not be happening in my lifetime.

I was P.O.’d that the city apparently has had an awful stray dog problem for years. The solution, according to some distraught local animal activists, is not to try to encourage sterilization or build more shelters. It’s to exterminate them.

The owner of a pest-control company cited fears the dogs will spread rabies — or even worse, interfere with the games.

Now, with the spotlight on the city, officials are being called on the practice.

Pressed for some real answers, the Olympics folks are now saying the dogs are being “taken into custody” and only the sick or dying are being killed.

My hat’s off to the activists who are trying to make a difference in a place that appears mostly indifferent.

I felt compelled to revisit this because I got a scathing response to my earlier post here.

The author said:

Thanks for one of the dumbest articles I’ve ever read …

The USA does not own the patent on being kind-hearted — it’s just we take for granted how easy our lives are such that our local governments can afford to fund animal shelters where we humanely round up and kill 3 to 4 MILLION stray animals a year in the USA despite our best intentions. So please spare us the sanctimony …

My response:

You’re absolutely right. I never said things were better in the U.S. — I pointed out that they weren’t — but we do start out with a slightly better intent. Shelters and then death, or killing without even a chance at a shelter? Not much of a choice.

I’m well-aware of how many strays are killed each year in our country because people either fail them or legitimately can no longer take care of them.

It’s the former that I blame. Don’t get a pet if you can’t take care of it. It’s not a toy. Only get a rescue. Outlaw product testing on dogs, puppy mills and pet shops. Restrict breeders. Spay and neuter pets.

It later occurred to me that I was being too agreeable here, and there’s absolutely no comparison between the attitudes here at home in and Russia.

If the following are any indication, we as a nation are nuts about our dogs — and cats for that matter. Consider the staying power of this goofy — in other words, adorable — site: I Can Has Cheezburger/I Has A Hotdog.

I’m not sure the Michael Vick dogfighting scandal would have been equally explosive in Russia. The animal activists’ protests might have fallen on deaf ears. They’re just dogs. What’s the big deal?

And yesterday, part of Pittsburgh came to a halt. With bagpipes blaring and fellow police dogs barking, more than 1,000 people paid their respects to a fallen officer — Rocco, a beloved police K-9, killed in the line of duty. You won’t believe the video.

Would that happen in Russia? For Vladimir Putin’s funeral, no doubt.


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