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After an international outcry about the stray dogs and cats that were being killed by an exterminator in Sochi, Russia, prior to the Olympics, several people have stepped up to help, including a Russian billionaire.

Oleg Deripaska, one of Russia’s richest men, funded a quickly built animal shelter in the hills above the city. “My first dog I found in the street of my village, the tiny village [where I grew up],” Deripaska told the BBC. “It was a very close friend for almost five years.”

The estimated 2,000 stray dogs and cats were being fed by construction workers while the Olympic Village was being constructed. However, when they left the animals became hungry strays once again.

The city hired an extermination company, rather than building a shelter and humanely dealing with the problem. His efforts have saved about 140 dogs to-date.

Humane Society International, the worldwide arm of the Humane Society of the United States, has also been working on helping the street dogs of Sochi.

The HSI is also teaching American athletes and tourists what to do if they wish to adopt a stray from Sochi. 

“On the Olympic work site, we have had daily visits from some of the friendliest, most social stray dogs I’ve ever seen,” said Neil Dreher, an American who worked on the opening ceremonies, told  

Dreher named the dog he is trying to bring back to the states Fisht after the Olympic stadium in Sochi.

Amanda Bird is another American hoping to adopt a dog she named Sochi. Bird is a spokesperson for the U.S. Bobsled and Skeleton Federation.

Editor’s Note: Photo of a street dog in India from the HSI Facebook page.

Image via Reuters

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