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Sochi’s Latest Drama: Were Stray Dogs Killed to Prepare for Games?

An outcry over the fate of stray dogs being rounded up in Sochi is just the latest in a long string of problems to beset the Winter Olympics.

Between security fears, gay rights issues and the media arriving to find hotels still under construction, the Olympic host city is now facing pressure to explain accusations that it is killing stray dogs.

Locals say that thousands of stray dogs have disappeared in recent weeks – the Games open on Friday.

Image:
A stray dog walks past the Olympic Rings in Olympic Park on Feb. 3, 2014, in Sochi, Russia. Robert F. Bukaty / AP

The Games organizers have been reluctant to discuss the dogs' fate.

"There is a service that catches the dogs and the city authorities handle this. The city has a special shelter for them," Alexandra Kosterina, a Games spokeswoman told Reuters.

Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, told The Associated Press that his company had a contract to exterminate the animals throughout the Olympics.

Sorokin described his company as being involved in the "catching and disposing" of dogs, although he refused to specify how the dogs would be killed or say where they would take the carcasses.

Residents say many of the dogs on the loose had been kept as pets or guard dogs by foreign workers who helped build the Games venues but have now returned home. Some of the dogs, they say, have been found dead in the streets.