Funding From Sochi Billionaire Helps Save Strays

Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty

Photo: AP/Robert F. Bukaty

It may not look like much, but Sochi's new makeshift animal shelter is a beacon of hope for the city's stray dogs. When word got out that a pest removal company had been hired to eliminate Sochi's extensive stray dog population, animal lovers and activists around the world were outraged. A Russian billionaire was so moved by the animals' plight that he agreed to fund a shelter to house the dogs.

Oleg V. Deripaska decided to finance the charity called Volnoe Delo (which translates to "Good Will"), who created the makeshift PovoDog shelter. The shelter is already teeming with close to 100 animals, a number that's steadily growing. Volunteers are using a golf cart to pick up stray dogs around the city and deliver them to the PovoDog shelter. The shelter lacks electricity or running water, but it's a safe haven for dogs that would otherwise be killed and discarded like trash.

Many attribute Russia's dog overpopulation issue to a lack of responsible animal control policies, including a disregard for spaying and neutering. In addition, many of the strays were former family pets that were abandoned after citizens lost their homes due to Olympic construction.

Thanks to the valiant efforts of Deripaska and the volunteers at PovoDog, the stray dogs of Sochi may have a second chance after all.  I just hope this isn't being done just for the Olympics while the eyes of the world are watching!

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