BEING VEGAN – Why I Won’t Be Watching the Winter Olympics in Sochi
By Paul Graham
Las Vegas Informer
“The love for all living creatures is the most notable attribute of man.” – Charles Darwin
Or at least the love of all living creatures should be the most notable attribute of man. I am afraid that far too many people on our planet did not receive that memo. It is also one of the reasons why I will not be tuning in to any of the Winter Olympics that are just now beginning in Sochi. None of it. Not one bit. I could site the fact that with all that is going on in the world right now and with all of the need in it, I don’t know, spending 50 billion dollars for two weeks seems a bit excessive. I could also cite the many human rights violations taking place in the host country right now or the many who were forced into labor to prepare for these Games. The threat of terrorism. To top it all off, orders came from various parts of the government there to exterminate the large numbers of stray dogs in and around Sochi. I simply decided that I did not want any part of it. But at least I can write about it and tell you why.
It has been reported that an estimated 7000 stray dogs have already been eliminated in these days, weeks and months leading up to the Games. The government officials have seen them as a nuisance. From the reports of those over there, most of these dogs seem to be abandoned. They are for the most part very friendly, which is also makes them easiest to catch and target. The powers that be have even hired “exterminators” to take care of the problem. They are for the most part taking care of their perceived problem by leaving out poisoned meat or shooting them with poison darts that cause them to suffocate. Those that have personally witnessed it found it obviously horrifying. The callousness of so many towards all of this over there is not only astounding but appalling. One exterminator said that these dogs were nothing more than “biological trash” and needed to be eliminated.
I heard one report that a stray dog found its way into the Opening Ceremonies, much to the disgust of the officials there. I thought it was not only ironic this would happen, but also perhaps fitting that the world would hear about this dog and be reminded of how easily we have come to be able to cast off any living creature that does not seem to be worthy of it’s life. That seems to include humans now as well, because as great thinkers and leaders have told us over the centuries, how we treat animals will eventually be how we treat humans. Officials knew there was a problem in Sochi, and rather than put an effort into spaying and neutering and possibly seek adoption help, they did nothing and now this is how they choose to take care of the problem as the world watches. Some officials have admitted that some of the excessive dog population was because of many of the workers who came to work on the building for the Games fed and took care of the dogs but then just left them when things were completed. There have been stories of companion pets that have wandered away from homes and have been mistaken for being a stray. Not a happy ending for anyone.
The International Olympic Committee addressed the issue by saying that the dogs were being rounded up, fed, sheltered and being given medical attention. Nothing seems to indicate that is actually happening, at least on an official basis. One good thing that has happened is that Russian Billionaire Oleg Deriposka came forth with money to set up a shelter for any dogs that could be found and provided money for their care. Many have come forth to volunteer and try and help and save as many of these dogs as possible. Hundreds of dogs have been rescued so far and hopefully the world will come forth to rescue them from here. That seems to be a much better use of our time and money. I understand that this is only one incident of so many that are happening in our world today. It may seem trivial to some compared to the spectacle of these Winter Olympic Games. I believe it worthy of our attention. I do not blame the athletes competing in these Games. They have trained hard for the competition and are proudly representing their home countries, but it is unfortunate that an issue like this has taken some of the attention away from them. It is even more unfortunate for the hundreds and thousands of dogs who have lost their lives in the process. My attention will not be on the competition, but it will be on the life-saving efforts going forth for these innocent creatures. I hope much of the world does the same.
Paul Graham was born and raised in Northern California and has lived in Las Vegas since 2004. He is a top wedding officiate, a green Realtor and writer. He has a daily vegan food blog www.eatingveganinvegas.tumblr.com which is 365 days and 365 vegan meals in Las Vegas. He can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or www.facebook.com/EatingVeganinVegas.
Paul’s e-book, “Eating Vegan in Vegas: If It Can Happen Here, It Can Happen Anywhere” is now available at www.sullivanstpress.com/shop/ebooks/eating-vegan-in-vegas/.