TODAY

TODAY   |  February 19, 2014

Skier Gus Kenworthy flying pups from Sochi to US

The Olympic skier is developing a reputation not only for his athleticism, but his big heart. He has helped many of Sochi’s stray dogs and teamed up with a Russian billionaire to get the pups on a plane to the U.S.

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This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> when you walk around sochi , it's hard not to notice, there are a lot of stray dogs here. and actually, their story has been getting a lot of attention. there's some efforts to save them.

>> that's right. well, helping all of them, of course, is an impossible task. but looks like the olympic spotlight and worldwide attention is starting to pay off thanks in part to one american athlete.

>> will we see the triple?

>> he may have won silver for his daring skill in slopestyle skiing, but american gus kenworthy is developing as big of a reputation for his heart.

>> you're not allowed to do that, so they've had to stay here, but i've come and seen them every day and been feeding them. when this tent goes, i don't know, they don't have anywhere else to sleep.

>> they are a few of sochi 's many stray dogs living under the security tent outside the media center in the mountain village and made famous in part by kenworthy on social media .

>> i posted these and said, yeah, i want to bring these home with me. and it was insane the amount of outreach i got.

>> one person who reached out was a russian billionaire and fellow dog lover. they're now working together to get the pups on a plane to the u.s. the first flight could leave as soon as thursday.

>> kenworthy is not the only olympian who wants to help. lindsey jacob ellis and some of the men's hockey team members are trying to adopt.

>> he's so cute.

>> local residents do what they can. in the foothills above sochi , down a dirt road , she runs this shelter.

>> the dogs were saved by us.

>> reporter: she's a dentist, but she and other volunteers built this safe haven with their own money.

>> dogs are fed by local people. and three times a week we go to the shelter just to have proper sterilization for all dogs.

>> is she getting help at all from the government to help with this?

>> no. nothing.

>> reporter: they're hoping to make room for more dogs through the generosity of strangers. set up a web page for donations and help people navigate a complex adoption process. as for gus kenworthy, he's already looking forward to a reunion with his pups in the u.s. where he says he and his family will take care as many as they can.

>> have you thought about names?

>> i think sochi 's a really cute name. and rosa or khutor, something like that. i might have to leave them a little bit, but they'll be on their way for sure.

>> that'll be hard.

>> i know.

>> you fell in love here in russia.

>> i did. absolutely.

>> that russian billionaire has also a new shelter opening up this friday. it's going to house about 250 dogs. hopefully we will have some good news to report. gus and his pups getting back to the u.s. it is an important reminder. while there are a lot here in sochi , there are a lot at home in the u.s., as well, in the kennel who need homes. you can help in that way, as well. and if you want to find out how to help, go to today.com.

>> and natalie, such a dog lover. this is a labor of love for you, as well.

>> i love them. thank you