ABC News’ Alex Mallin filed this report:
American Olympians looking to rescue the stray dogs roaming Sochi are quickly finding it’s not as simple as checking a souvenir with their carry-on luggage.
“It’s really revealed the differences between Eastern and Western medicine,” said Kelly Backes, the wife of hockey player and Team USA forward David Backes.
Kelly and David cofounded the organization Athletes for Animals in 2012. The non-profit organization works to provide housing through animal shelters and rescue groups to homeless pets across America.
When reports started spreading out of Sochi that hundreds of stray dogs were roaming the streets, Kelly said she expected their mission would wind up following her husband’s gold-medal ambitions.
“We’ve seen hundreds and hundreds on the streets and we had heard of the large amounts of exterminations that were going on,” Backes said.
In the first week of the Olympics, Backes and several Olympic athletes started taking strays off the street and caring for them. U.S. snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis posed for a photo with her new companion on Monday.
— Holly Brooks (@brooksha1) February 17, 2014
Skier Gus Kenworthy became a Twitter sensation after sharing a photo of himself with four puppies, a move that even drew a shout out from pop-star Miley Cyrus.
puppy love is real to puppies. pic.twitter.com/krauCUPjOg
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 11, 2014
— Gus Kenworthy (@guskenworthy) February 16, 2014
But Kenworthy was reportedly met with a brick wall on his way out of Russia, and is expected to have to wait a few more days before returning to the U.S. to celebrate his silver-medal victory.
“The vaccination process is much slower,” Backes said. “Living in the U.S. you kind of just assume the process can be expedient. But trying to move two stray dogs out of Russia you quickly find that’s not the case.”
— Athletes For Animals (@A4A_org) February 18, 2014
Backes said her husband reached out to Kenworthy through Twitter to see what veterinarian he was using, but the couple has yet to hear back from him.
Kelly said the two dogs they have been caring for have been a good distraction for the Team USA players, who are set to play in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
Whether the team wins or loses determines just how fast the clock is ticking on figuring out travel arrangements for the two canines.
“At this point, it’s still ‘hopefully we will be able to bring them home,’” Backes said. “They actually are surprisingly healthy and incredibly gentle. They aren’t the rabid dogs that the media back in the U.S. is sort of portraying them to be.”