THE glamour of the Sochi Winter Olympics has been tarnished by reports that thousands of street dogs are being killed in the lead-up to the games.
According to MSN news, thousands of the animals have been living among the mud and rubble of the Olympic construction sites, getting pats from workers and begging for scraps of food.
But as the games drew near, authorities have turned to a company to catch and kill the animals, described as "biological trash", so they don't bother Sochi's new visitors - or even wander into an Olympic event.
Alexei Sorokin, director general of pest control firm Basya Services, told The Associated Press that his company had a contract to exterminate the animals throughout the Olympics.
Sorokin described his company as being involved in the "catching and disposing" of dogs, although he refused to specify how the dogs would be killed or say where they would take the carcasses.
Animals Australia has launched a petition against the killings, saying Sochi City Hall had originally promised to house the dogs in a shelter after a similar cull plan received heavy criticism.
"Cold, hungry, vulnerable. Homeless dogs in Sochi face being killed with poison or traps, just to 'clean up' the city before the Winter Olympics," the petition page says.