(WJLA) - Ten travel companions from Russia - including best friends Belka and Bosh - have no idea of the international effort that unfolded to get these sweet and scrappy dogs into their new digs at Washington Animal Rescue League in Northwest D.C.
"It's a remarkable story and hopefully it's raising the awareness of stray dogs and cats all over the world," says Bob Ramin with the League.
Humane Society International officials say that in the run-up to the Sochi Winter Olympics, the Russian government paid a company to exterminate as many street dogs as possible.
Kelly O'Meara with the Humane Society estimates that at least 4,000 were killed:
"These dogs were referred to as biological trash by the organization that was hired to kill them."
But organizations on the ground moved swiftly to save and vaccinate some strays. This is the first batch to arrive stateside.
"These 10 dogs are about as loving and wonderful and social dogs as you can come across," says O'Meara.
Some of their first steps in this new life were understandably awkward, and unaccustomed to leashes, some were carried in.
"It's been a tremendous journey for them, but they are finally here and they'll find wonderful homes here I'm sure," says O'Meara.