Earlier this month, we talked about the plight of many stray dogs in Sohi during the Winter Olympics. In order to “clean up” the city for tourists, Russian officials had originally planned to simply round up and exterminate thousands of dogs. Unthinkable! Fortunately, once the world got wind of this plot, almost five thousand dogs were able to be saved as officials backed off and allowed them to be instead taken into many temporary homes and shelters erected during the event.
However, then came the question…what’s going to happen to all these wonderful pups once the Olympics are over? Are they just going to be let back out onto the streets to fend for themselves? Many of the dogs were seen as healthy and lovable, worthy of homes and families who would care for them. But how could Sochi caretakers get the world to rally around such a massive adoption effort?
Fortunately, many Olympians, Olympic staff, and supporters responded to this issue by adopting lots of the dogs themselves! One Olympian in particular, skier Gus Kenworthy, has made it a personal mission to spread the word about pet adoption (alongside winning a silver medal at slope-style skiing. He brought home FIVE Sochi dog of his own, and has also had numerous interviews on the impact dogs have had on him and his athletic performance. Here’s a few statements by him in an interview with Elle magazine on why this is so close to his heart:
“Usually, I would ski, my training would end, and I would get on a bus and go see the puppies first, and feed them and hang out with them,” he said. “There were a lot of strays there, but the [ones that I adopted] were living outside the media center. My friend Robin who was out there doing media stuff during the Games saw them and sent me a photo of them because he knows I’m obsessed with dogs. I guess the rest is history—I went and saw them [in person], and fell in love with them, and needed to take them home. After I made it public that I was going to do that, it really caught on and went viral, which is awesome. Robin is still over there and he’s helping with the [adoption] process and getting everything wrapped up.”
And his efforts haven’t gone unnoticed! According to Gus, a shelter worker in NYC came up to him just recently and said, “Hey, I just wanted to let you know that I work at a shelter here, and we’ve had 10 times the adoptions this week since you posted [your photos] than we’ve had in the longest time. It’s so awesome how much awareness you’ve brought to the issue and how many people have come in and adopted dogs because of it.”
Let’s hope many more national heroes and figures such as Gus and other Olympic athletes use their position to spread the word about pet adoption. Maybe someday soon, instead of just trying to get rid of these precious animals, we’ll invite even more of them to share our lives and homes. Until then, let this last photo of Gus and one of his new pups warm your heart!
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