Police: Circus dyed dogs to pass off as pandas

The owner of the circus in Brescia is facing charges of animal abuse and defrauding customers.

By Ben Hooper
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BRESCIA, Italy, Dec. 23 (UPI) -- Police in northern Italy announced they seized two chow-chow dogs from a circus that had dyed the canines' hair in an attempt to pass them off as pandas.

Environmental police said they visited the circus Friday in Brescia and discovered officials were charging children to have their pictures taken with two "pandas" that were actually chow-chow dogs with a black-and-white dye job.


Investigators said the dogs, a male and a female, appeared to be in good health, but had unusually watery eyes that likely resulted from being exposed to constant camera flashes.

Police said the owner of the circus told customers who were suspicious of the "pandas" that the animals were half-panda, half-dog hybrids.

The circus owner, whose name was not released, is facing charges of animal abuse and defrauding customers. Charges could also stem from false information on the animals' passports, as police said the dogs are six months younger than claimed in documents.

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