As the 2014 Winter Games begin, the International Olympic Committee is trying to clear up the controversy around the campaign to kill hundreds of stray dogs in the host city of Sochi and around the Olympic Park.
"There are no dogs remaining in the village that I have seen," Olympic Village director Daniel Merkley said on Thursday. "If there are, I'm not aware of them. The village is virtually free of any of the stray dogs. They have been relocated."
Sochi officials have come under fire from animal activists following reports that a pest removal company hired by the government in recent months has killed hundreds of dogs.
The International Olympic Committee said Wednesday that only sick strays in Sochi are being exterminated, and others are just being taken away so they can't disrupt the Feb. 7-23 games.
IOC spokesman Mark Adams, pressed about the campaign, said the dogs are being "taken into custody" and only the sick or dying are being killed.
Humane Society International sent a letter asking President Vladimir Putin to stop the culling.
And a Scottish member of Parliament said the killing "stains the snow of Sochi with blood." Struan Stevenson said that while Putin cuddled a leopard in a show of environmental concern this week, he should have used some of the billions spent on the Olympics on animal shelters.