Sochi Puppies Rescued by Olympian Gus Kenworthy Arrive in U.S. After “Government Roadblocks”

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Reunited and it feels so damn cute! The Sochi puppies that Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy and photographer Robin Macdonald have spent over a month trying to rescue have finally made it to the U.S. Kenworthy and his friend appeared on the Today show Friday, March 14 — with three of the dogs they brought home — and opened up about the obstacles they faced trying to save as many as they could.

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“There was all these dogs in Russia that we were trying to bring back, and it was a lot more difficult than we thought it would be,” Kenworthy, 22, explained of the abundance of stray dogs in Sochi, which he discovered while competing (and winning!) at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games. “Robin stayed behind [after the Olympics] and we expected him to be there two or three extra days. He was there for almost a month by himself to get them out. They weren’t 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.”

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Finally bringing the dogs home was bittersweet. Many were malnourished and sick in Sochi, and a few died before they could be rescued.

“We encountered some government roadblocks when we were there. A politician kind of claimed the dogs were theirs, and they didn’t want to release them to us for whatever reason,” Macdonald claimed. “They were kind of kept away from me for the duration that I was there. We were fighting with the Humane Society International to get them proper treatment and get them to care. It took too long, and two of the dogs did, unfortunately, pass away.”

gus Kentworthy and Robin MacDonald today show
After encountering “government roadblocks,” the Sochi puppies rescued by Olympian Gus Kenworthy and photographer Robin Macdonald have finally arrived in the U.S. and appeared on the Today show March 14. “It feels so nice to have them home,” Kenworthy said; see an adorable video of the pooches. Peter Kramer/NBC

Both Kenworthy and Macdonald, however, are relieved to finally be home with the dogs they adopted. Macdonald traveled back to the U.S. with five dogs — Jake, Rosa, Mishka, Mom, and Stryder.

“It feels so nice to have them home,” silver medalist Kenworthy said. “These dogs have traveled thousand of miles, and it’s been many many weeks of this whole process coming to an end. Can’t thank Robin and the Humane Society International enough for making it happen.”

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Watch Kenworthy and Macdonald share their journey — and see the adorable puppies — in the video above.

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