Q: I saw on your blog (http://www.chicagnow.com/stevedale) that you've taken a stand, calling for people to boycott watching the Olympics. Do you think blogs like yours have helped the world see what's really going on in Russia, as they continue to kill stray dogs? -- A.D., via cyberspace
Q: Those stray dogs in Sochi ARE trash. They're vermin, like sewer rats or cockroaches. It's very pragmatic to poison them. Killing them is right. What would you do, round them up, feed and care for each one for the next 12 years and pretend they are fur babies? To what end? -- L.W., via cyberspace
A: Apparently, an Olympic sport this year is dog hunting. A pest control company was contracted to exterminate hundreds (or more) of stray dogs around Sochi before the winter games began.
There's long been a stray dog issue there, but it became far worse as construction began for the Olympics. Homes were torn down, and some families left their dogs behind to fend for themselves. The vast majority of stray dogs in Russia are not spayed or neutered.
Alexei Sorokin, director general of the pest control firm Basya Services, which serves the Sochi area, told reporters last week about a stray dog wandering into Fischt Stadium during a rehearsal for the opening ceremonies.
"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." He called the strays "biological trash."
Sorokin wasn't shy about saying his directive from local government officials was to kill the stray dogs, even by poisoning or shooting. Later, the International Olympic Committee interceded and said veterinarians would individually assess all captured dogs -- although no one yet knows what that means.
Even some Russian citizens were horrified, including billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska. After the story hit the media, he donated money so volunteers could quickly cobble together a shelter. However, the lucky dogs who make it there may not be so lucky, after all. Locals suggest that after the foreign press departs, these dogs will be destroyed.
I wasn't the only one horrified. The Estonian Olympic team brought several dogs on stage while showing their outfits to the press to focus attention on what's happening to the stray dogs of Sochi.
The International Olympic Committee creed notes that the goals of the Olympic Movement include "promoting peace and a sense of brotherhood throughout the world."
It's seems to me that shooting or poisoning dogs doesn't exactly further a sense of peace or brotherhood.
While it is a tragedy that millions of dogs and cats succumb in U.S. shelters through no fault of their own, we don't hire exterminators to kill homeless animals.
I realize our amazing athletes aren't at fault for any of this, but personally I can no longer look the other way. For me, lives supersede medals. I have not been watching the Olympics.
Q: How can ordinary Americans help the stray dogs live in Sochi, Russia? -- N.D, Hartford, CT
A: Unless you know someone already in the region, it may be very difficult to adopt a dog from Sochi, not to mention expensive. And frankly, why would you? I can assure you that if you visit your local shelter, check out available dogs at breed rescue websites, or go to http://www.petfinder.com, you'll find just as many dogs in need of homes. Your gentle heart and generosity could save a life.
If you do know an Olympic athlete, or someone else in Sochi, here's info on the Sochi shelters:
Help for Homeless animals in Sochi. Private Shelter: Websites (English language site coming soon!): i. http://www.facebook.com/groups/dogsochi/ ii. http://vk.com/clubsochianimals | Contact information: i. Vlada Provotorova: (0117)9882330615 (email@example.com) ii. Dina Filipova: (0117)89186001766 (firstname.lastname@example.org) iii. Lina Masunova: (0117)9649446644 | Locations: i. Adler district, Krasnodar Region, Russia ii. Baranovka district, Krasnodar Region, Russia
Povodog. Private Shelter: Website for its parent charity: http://volnoe-delo.ru/en/ | Contact information: i. Ekaterina Svetlichnaya: (0117)4957284954 (EkaterinaIS@hq.basel.ruor email@example.com) | Location: Baranovka district, Krasnodar Region, Russia
Dobromir. Municipal Shelter: Contact information: i. Shelter Director Anna Urievna Vichkareva, office phone: (0117)8622682005 or (0117)8622680278 ii. General Director of the charity Liudmila Albertovna Sknarina. | Location: Shelter: Baranovka district, Krasnodar Region, Russia; Office: 13 Abrikosovskaya St., Krasnodar Region, Russia.
For details about bringing a dog into the U.S., check the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website: http://www.cdc.gov/animalimportation/dogs.html
Q: My 30-pound dog pulls so hard on the leash that my arm is coming out of its socket. Aside from seeing a doctor about my arm, what can I do? -- T.L., Las Vegas, NV
A: "Equipment and training can help you to manage the situation," says Karen-Pryor-certified dog trainer Marius Geykman, of Highland Park, IL. You might even be unknowingly encouraging your dog to pull. When you pull one way, dogs naturally pull another. That's why Geykman suggests a body harness.
"First, practice loose-leash walking in the house, where there aren't distractions," Geykman says. "Teach your dog to focus on you and to walk by your side by using a favorite treat. Staying at your side to keep pace with the treat is incompatible with pulling. Once your dog is reliably keeping pace, take the training outdoors."
Geykman offers another tip: "Having your dog burn off steam in the back yard or with a game inside before you take that walk can help."
(Steve Dale welcomes questions/comments from readers. Although he can't answer all of them individually, he'll answer those of general interest in his column Send e-mail to PETWORLD(at)STEVE DALE.TV. Include your name, city and state. Steve's website is http://www.stevedalepetworld.com; he also hosts the nationally syndicated "Steve Dale's Pet World" and "The Pet Minute." He's also a contributing editor to USA Weekend.)
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