Vladimir Putin is said to be planning a mass slaughter of stray dogs in preparation for this year's Russian World Cup
£1.4m has been set aside for a 'Canine KGB Death Squad' to poison the stray animals, which are mostly dogs, after concerns that large numbers of strays might send the wrong message to visiting tourists. Ekaterina Dmitrieva is the Director of the City Animal Protection Foundation, and she believes the butchery is scandalous, instead advocating for sterilising, immunising and caring for the animals. A petition on Change.org called 'Stop killing homeless animals in Russia! Stop bloody FIFA 2018!' has reached 56,000 signatures.
Dogs have been having a rough time in Russian climates lately, as videos have shown animals frozen in snow and ice in Kazakhstan, after temperatures fell to -56c. A hare and a dog were found to have passed away in the bitter conditions, the hare was trapped while climbing through a fence and the dog got stuck wading through a field presumably looking for safety. Villagers have stepped in to free the bodies and lay them to rest with more respect, but there are expected to be many more deaths from the extreme weather after a thermometer recorded temperatures of -62c in a village in neighbouring Russia.
Animal rights activists have raised concern and called for more to be done to help animals who might be caught in the perilous weather. One group said "In these terrible frosts we try to save every animal - around the clock with volunteers we go almost for all the cries for help. We warm the animals, feed them, and urgently take to vets". Animal lovers might be calmed to hear that there are people looking out for our four-legged friends, but deaths of humans as well as animals will continue to stack up as long as the temperature stays so low. Many countries are experiencing unusually severe cold snaps this year, with frozen swamps in Florida and lizards dropping out of trees.
A 'bomb cyclone' hit the East Coast of the US earlier this month, dumping snow as far south as Florida and causing classically warm and humid swamps to delve to icy temperatures. Alligators have a clever tactic to stay safe when extreme cold sets in - they float vertically with their snouts sticking out of the water and their bodies frozen solid in icy swamp-coffins. North Carolina's 'Shallote River Swamp Park' explained the phenomenon "Alligators will go into a state of brumation. This is where a reptile’s metabolism slows down dramatically and will go into a lethargic state. Often during this time, an alligator will stay at the bottom of a body of water. An alligator can hold its breath underwater for 1 to 24 hours. If they need to breathe, then they’ll slowly surface and peak their nostrils at the top of the water.". Unfortunately, not all animals are as adaptable.
Header image credit: The British Columbia SPCA