When Olympic Ideals Boil Down
to Saving Dogs From Being Killed
There hasn’t been any shortage of despicable reasons to abhor the Olympic Winter Games starting today in Sochi, Russia, but its Organizing Committee has managed to win the prize for the cruelest of them all: it ordered a hunt to kill the city’s stray dog population.
And it’s one bid that may’ve been actually completed by the eve of the opening ceremony, unlike the athletes’ village and the visitors’ transportation hub, both still under construction, and running and potable water at some of the press corps’ hotel accommodations.
Add to that too a hostile climate towards gay and basic civil rights, appalling conditions faced by laborers, many still unpaid and some already deported, and a general menace lurking about the games, after countless threats of terrorism made by Vladimir Putin’s political opponents.
This Olympics were to be his crowning achievement after 12 years of unquestionable power over everything big and small in the Russian society. It’s shaping up to be, however, a gigantic blunder that has cost billions of dollars, even if so far, not many (human) lives. Let’s hope that it keeps that way.
Everything about this exercise of self-aggrandizing has gone counter Putin’s ambitions, and one would expect, may serve to undermine his steel grip over Russia. It wouldn’t be a bad result for such arrogant enterprise, if that actually happens. History, though, usually proves us wrong.
THE RACE IS ON
To be sure, the problem of stray dogs in big metropolis around the world is not a monopoly of Russia, even when considering those in the streets of Moscow, for example, legendary urban features. Not long ago, bankrupted Detroit had to face a similar problem, with thousands of dogs wondering its neighborhoods.
There, animal organizations, mostly non-profit, plus a sympathetic population have come to the rescue, and many famished canines have found homes and suitable shelters, according to reports. But the problem persists, as efforts to educate people about sterilization and other measures take time until producing palpable results.
Elsewhere, in cities like Rome, Paris and Rio de Janeiro, passionate debates about what to do with strays and feral cats and dogs continue to rage, but no other city has crossed the line as Sochi did, when it explicitly formulated what amounts to a ‘final solution’ for the animals. And it shouldn’t get away with it.
To prove that in Russia things work under a different clock, rescue organizations led by Volnoe Delo (or Good Will), which rushed to save the dogs from certain death got a surprising push from a billionaire, Oleg V. Deripaska, who’s footing the bill to shelter and, possibly, find them homes.
DON’T THEY KILL HORSES?
Stray and feral animals can quickly reverse to a wild state and become dangerous, both because of their aggressiveness and for being vulnerable to transmissible diseases. In the case of dogs, specially, as they multiply, they also move in organized packs, roaming the streets and defending their territory in much the same way wolves would.
Working against time and around the clock, Volnoe Delo has set improvised golf carts, to apprehend and take the dogs to a place in the outskirts of Sochi. But since October, an estimated 300 of them have already been caught and killed by an array of groups, interested in the $25 to $35 reward for each.
But before we get our behinds too well oiled on top of our high horses, let’s put it all in perspective. Even though nothing compares to the methodical elimination of dogs happening in Sochi, it’s never too late to remind ourselves that the systematic killing of animals is still sanctioned in many parts of the civilized world.
Australia has just instituted a ‘catch and kill‘ policy for tiger, bull and great white sharks, the first two considered pretty docile species, and the latter an endangered one, no less, in no small measure due to increased demand for shark fin soup coming from Japan.
SANCTIONED BLOOD BATH
Speaking of the Land of the Rising Sun, less than a month ago its government sanctioned and, worse, justified, the indiscriminate killing of dozens of dolphins, claiming it’s part of the Japanese culture. The fact is, it’s a custom that started in the 1970s, and whose practical need had already disappeared long before that.
What it amounts to, then, is an annual, brutal, and incredibly cruel way of hoarding these highly intelligent cetaceans and kill then by harpoons and machetes. Visually, it’s one of the most horrific spectacles people calling themselves civilized still insist in pursuing.
And, let’s not forget, in the U.S., ‘only about a half-dozen states have laws specifically barring the butchering of dogs and cats,’ according to Philly.com You may assume that it’s illegal to kill and eat our pet, but you’d be tragically wrong. As for how could anyone, well, don’t we slaughter living bulls for a show?
* Cats & Dogs
* Games People Play
* Return to Sender