While excitement for the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics is building, Russia is dealing with another public relations problem. Controversy is brewing over how the country is handling Sochi's stray dogs.
Stray dogs seem to have the run of the place, News4's Jim Handly reported, so local authorities have hired a pest control company to exterminate them.
Strays can be seen wandering the streets and sidewalks around Olympic venues and in neighborhoods within the city. The dogs gather near construction sites, which seem to be everywhere, Handly said.
While some of the dogs seem harmless and approachable, there have been reports of some biting children.
Last year, Sochi City Hall announced a contract to catch and dispose of stray dogs, but animal activists staged protests. Officials backed off and pledged to build animal shelters, but no shelters have been built.
Shooting stray dogs has been common practice in many Russian regions.
The head of the pest control company in the Sochi region refused to say how many dogs they've killed, calling it a "commercial secret." He told the Associated Press a dog recently ran into Fisht Stadium, where the Opening Ceremony will be held. He said if that happens during the ceremony, it will be a disgrace for the whole country.
There are also reports that some of the dogs may have been poisoned.
In the past five days since Handly and his crews arrived, Handly said they've noticed fewer dogs roaming around.