The 2014 Winter Olympiad will begin in just a few days in Sochi, Russia. For an event with the goal of highlighting the best of the human spirit from among the world wide collection of us, I am far less excited for Sochi than previous olympics. Mahatma Gandhi once said “The greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated…” The organizers of the 2014 games in Sochi have failed Gandhi’s criteria miserably, and for that, any enjoyment of the games will be lost to me.
The popular website Dogster, among others, reports here that the city and organizers have hired a contractor to kill nearly 2,000 stray dogs running wild in the city, to help remove ‘the biological trash’ according to Alexi Sorokin, owner of Basia Services, the contractor executing dogs. I cannot help but be dumbfounded at the rationale that the dogs….will get in the way. Sorokin provides the example that dogs needed to be removed, lest one run in front of a ski jumper about to land and they crash, creating a deadly encounter for both. Perhaps games organizers in Sochi need also to employ sharpshooters, in case a wayward dove, or pigeon might fly into the same ski jumper in mid-air, surely even more dangerous than a ground encounter?
Additionally, organizers have also arranged for the capture and transport of two wild orcas from the seas of North Japan to be on display for the games. Removing them from their family pods where they swam with siblings, parents and children, all so onlookers who have travelled to Sochi for the games may be amazed.
I understand and am supportive of Russia’s attempt to revitalize the Sochi area, and it’s own Olympic program, which have been flailing since the disintegration of the U.S.S.R. in 1991. But there has to be a better way.
I made this image one day leaning over top of a kennel, saddened by the reality of seeing another vibrant, healthy, social dog trapped. I never thought I’d see the day when I’d much prefer 2,000 dogs to be in this situation, than the one officials in Sochi have placed them.
We should do better. We need to do better. And I hope we can find outlets other than the 2014 Winter Olympics to remind us that as a people, we are better.