You could say Team USA went to the dogs in Sochi.
I'm not talking about medal counts or broken hearts in speed skating or hockey. No. Team USA embraced the Olympic spirit in a whole new way by going to bat for the now famous Sochi stray dogs that were facing extermination by poison until their plight made international news.
Many of the athletes helped feed and care for the Sochi stray dogs or volunteered to help the animals at the shelter set up to care for them. Some athletes, coaches and reporters went as far as to adopt a dog to transport them from an uncertain future to a happy ending in America. Yes, the coveted item for many animal loving U.S. athletes was a rescued dog or puppy. Here are some of the stories about the Sochi stray dogs and team USA.
The first Olympian to hit the news was silver medal winning freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy. He tweeted about rescuing a mother dog and her four puppies, working through a non-profit to get the dogs vaccinated and to safety before heading home. He's adopting a puppy and found homes for the rest, including mamma dog. Nick Goepper, who was part of the Team USA medal sweep, also adopted a dog.
Team USA Hockey may have come up short winning medals, but not in the rescue department. They cared for stray dogs around their hotel and David Backes used his organization Athletes for Animals to get many of the dogs off the streets and into shelters. Some hockey team members also adopted dogs and brought them back home.
Others that rescued dogs and arranged for them to be flown home include Amanda Bird, communications head for the bobsled and skeleton teams; snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis; and E! Online's Ali Fedotowsky. Olympians and others in the USA entourage were regulars on the streets and in the makeshift shelters doing what they could to help out.
Prior to the start of the games, many of the dogs lost their homes when families were uprooted and moved to apartments to make way for Olympic venues. The strays were then dealt with in the worst way - shot with poison and left to die a slow painful death in the streets.
Because of the media attention, a Russian billionaire set up a makeshift shelter and international animal advocates kept the story in the spotlight. While it's good news that so many Olympians - from the USA and elsewhere - stepped up to help by rescuing and volunteering. The bad news is that once the athletes and media leave town, many of the dogs will continue to face the same fate.
Other stories of interest -
- Killing of dogs in Sochi and killing of dogs in America
- Adopting Stray Dogs of Sochi
- Killing Stray Dogs in Sochi, Commentary
- Killing of Dogs in Sochi: They're 'Biological Trash'
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