Telluride Olympian, Russian billionaire saving Sochi’s doomed stray dogs


U.S. Winter Olympian and Telluride resident Gus Kenworthy plays with and cradles a group of stray puppies he found on the streets of Sochi. (Photo: Facebook / Gus Kenworthy)

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SOCHI, Russia -- Russia's mandate to exterminate thousands of stray dogs in Sochi has been well-documented. Now the efforts of a Russian billionaire and one Colorado Olympian to save those dogs is turning heads.

Telluride’s Gus Kenworthy, who (SPOILER ALERT) took silver in men's slopestyle skiing event Thursday morning, is capturing hearts for his pledge to save as many strays as he can.

Kenworthy has tweeted out several photos of himself holding stray Sochi dogs, with captions like “Look who I just found!” and “Puppy love is real to puppies.”

One particular pack of stray puppies seems to have caught Kenworthy’s attention, and he said he plans on doing all he can to bring the dogs home with him.

"Spent all afternoon playing with a gang of stray puppies here in Sochi," Kenworthy wrote on his Facebook page. "Looking into finding a way to bring them home with me, but I also don't want to take them away from their mama because she was being super cute and protective over them. I bought them some food and I'll go visit them again tomorrow."

Find yourself wanting more of Kenworthy? Don't worry, he's one of the few freestyle skiers who isn't done competing in this Olympics. He'll take part in the men's ski halfpipe on Tuesday.

While the Telluride native's small effort has been capturing hearts, a bigger effort being made by Russian billionaire Oleg Deripaska is capturing the minds and influencing the actions of his countrymen and women.

According to the BBC, Deripaska has ponied up the dough to build a shelter in the nearby town of Baranovka for Sochi’s stray dogs, deemed “biological trash” by the owner of the company charged with exterminating them. Deripaska told the BBC his motivation comes from his own experience with a stray dog as a child.

“I adopted a stray puppy from my tiny village when I was a young boy,” Deripaska said. “The dog became my very best friend for five years.”

Run by concerned Russian dog lover Nadezhda Mayboroda, the Deripaska-sponsored shelter is facilitating the adoption of more stray dogs. Mayboroda said the shelter took in 140 stray dogs before the Olympics, and she said Russian families are coming to the shelter and adopting the dogs on a daily basis.

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