For the past few months, the city of Sochi, Russia, has been attempting to rid itself of its stray dog population ahead of the Winter Olympics.
But on Friday, one persistent pup showed off the determination of an Olympic athlete when it made its way to Fisht Stadium to take in the Games’s Opening Ceremony.
The growing outrage over the Russian government’s plan to euthanize the animals has led several notable voices to speak out, including former Olympic athlete C. Thomas McMillen, now serving on the board for the Humane Society of the United States.
“Just as Olympic athletes became role models for billions of young people, so do host countries’s preparations serve as examples for future Olympic venues to follow,” writes McMillen, who played in the 1972 Summer Olympics, in an open letter to the president of the International Olympic Committee. “The socially responsible and ethical way forward is to adopt and implement easily available humane methods rather than hunting down and poisoning these animals as all the world watches.”
Within Russia itself, billionaire Oleg V. Deripaska has funded a rescue effort to bring the strays to a shelter. Shelter employees are hopeful fans attending the Sochi Olympics will consider giving these animals permanent homes.