As Russia systematically slaughters stray dogs in the run up to the Winter Olympics, one wonderful billionaire is racing to save them.
The city of Sochi is said to have hired a private company to kill as many of the neglected creatures as possible.
But dog shelter backed by Russian oligarch Oleg V Deripaska is frantically trying to save the dogs.
A “dog rescue” golf cart is now scouring the Olympic campus, picking up the animals and delivering them to the shelter, the New York Times reported.
It has been reported that many of the strays in Sochi were pets, abandoned by families whose homes were demolished over the past few years to make way for the Olympic venues.
Describing the animals as "biological trash," the owner of the company hired to reportedly kill the animals said he was being tasked with using poison and traps to rid the city of stray dogs before thousands of tourists and competitors arrive for the Games’ opening ceremony this Friday.
Speaking to ABC News, the owner of Basia Services extermination company Alexei Sorokin claimed the animals were a threat to the Games and said he was doing visiting nations a favour.
Animal rights activists have reacted with fury, while locals in Sochi are also doing their best to help the animals.
"I hate [Sorokin]," Ekaterina Gontareva, who has been spending her own money taking in strays in her outdoor shelter, told CBS News bluntly. "I believe that God will punish him for this."
Previous reports claimed more than 2,000 stray cats and dogs are planned for destruction.
"In order to keep those street dogs alive, I'd rather take them into my home than let them be killed," Sochi resident Tatiana Zarutsjaya said.
The large-scale killings of homeless animals are being carried out because a more humane option, like putting the animals in shelters, would be too time-consuming, Sochi representative Sergei Krivonosov told Russian newspaper RBC Daily.
The International Olympic Committee told reporters at a briefing Wednesday that no healthy dogs found on the grounds of the Olympics were being destroyed.
“It would be absolutely wrong to say that any healthy dog will be destroyed,” a spokesman said.Suggest a correction