A new report has claimed that Russia has contracted companies to take to the streets and catch and kill thousands of stray dogs ahead of the World Cup. The deals are understood to be worth millions of pounds for the companies, who have been poisoning the animals with darts and 'hunting puppies and kittens with blowguns'. One man found a dart next to the body of a dead dog in the road in Sochi, where the Winter Olympics were held in 2014 and a similar programme of slaughter was used to quickly rid the streets of strays. According to the Telegraph’s report, published documents on the state's website show that the city of Sochi has contracted a private firm to ‘catch’ 3,501 unsupervised animals this year and ‘those carrying out the immobilisation should make sure of the animal’s death.' The company was head £17 per dog for the murdered strays in February and March alone, despite Sochi mayor Anatoly Pakhomov claiming in February that ‘there were never any shootings of animals in Sochi’ and ‘there can’t be any poisonings either’.
Russian activists have uncovered the evidence, and are fighting from within the country to shut the cruel practice down. activist Ekaterina Dmitrieva, director of the City Animal Protection Foundation, scoured the state procurement website for her evidence and started a Change.org petition that amassed more than 1.8m signatures, calling on FIFA and President Putin to put a stop to 'canine KGB death squads' , to open shelters and to create a specific set of laws to cover strays. Deputy Prime Minister Vitaly Mutko is seemingly on side, and has ordered World Cup host cities to open temporary shelters to care for the estimated 2 million stray dogs across the country. He also promised regulations on sterilising and releasing stray animals.
A Fifa spokesperson told The Metro: "Fifa and the LOC (Local Organising Committee), in no way, condones cruel treatment of wild and stray animals. We take this responsibility seriously and seek to set a good example to others. With that in mind, we have developed a procedure on responding to the appearance of stray or wild animals in the stadiums. The procedure involves a number of stakeholders in monitoring and responding to any case in a humane manner to avoid any inappropriate reaction. The procedure was in effect during the Fifa Confederations Cup 2017 and will be used for the Fifa World Cup this summer. Furthermore, Fifa and the LOC have made a legal analysis of Russian legislation and the management of stray animals in each of the host cities. We are in contact with the Host Cities with regards to the measures employed and expect them to ensure the welfare of the animal population."