Gus Kenworthy, freestyle skier, took home more than just a silver medal from the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia. The Telluride, Colorado native stole the hearts of animal-loving men and women everywhere when he fought to adopt and bring home several beautiful Sochi stray puppies. The 22-year-old found four puppies and their mother in the Olympic mountain village, and today he celebrated their homecomings in an interview on The Today Show on NBC.
Bringing the so-called “unwanted” strays back to the United States wasn’t as easy as anyone assumed, and Kenworthy, with the help of Humane Society International and good friend Robin Macdonald, finally won the hard fought battle. Wayne Pacelle, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Humane Society of the United States, said about the collective effort, “During the Olympics, he [Kenworthy] and photographer, friend Robin Macdonald partnered with our affiliate, Humane Society International, making determined efforts over weeks to get the dogs out of Russia and to the U.S. to be placed in adoptive homes.”
Kenworthy returned home after the Olympic games, and Macdonald stayed behind in Russia for nearly a month after to see the lengthy adoption process through to the end. Kenworthy said about the dogs’ homecomings, “It’s just incredible. It feels so nice to have them home. These dogs have traveled thousands of miles, and it’s been many, many weeks of this whole process kind of coming to an end.”
The Olympian’s animal rescue efforts have not gone unnoticed, and he says the best part about the ordeal is that it has inspired others into animal advocacy. “We’ve had people come up to the both of us, and tell us that they’ve either donated to the Humane Society, or they went and adopted a dog here or whatever, so that’s awesome to see.” He goes on to say, “I think that we’re really just kind of hoping to bring awareness to the plight of the dogs in Russia and hopefully set up some shelters and stuff there so that in future World Cups and different events, there will be a better system in place so that this doesn’t happen again, so that if someone does want to take a dog back, they can take a dog back and it’s not going to be a horrible process.”
The two dogs Kenworthy and Macdonald were planning on adopting unfortunately died before they could be rescued. Kenworthy said, “They just weren’t really getting the treatment that they needed, and not all of them made it, but the ones that did are more than happy to be here.” Now that the dogs are safe in America, the next hurdle to get over happens to be potty training, but after such a heroic rescue effort, we are sure potty training will seem like a piece of vegan cake.
Photo Credit: TODAY.com