iN PHOTOS: In Rio de Janeiro, rescue dogs watch out for their rescuers | iNFOnews | Thompson-Okanagan's News Source
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iN PHOTOS: In Rio de Janeiro, rescue dogs watch out for their rescuers

Police Cpl. Cristiano de Oliveira offers a hand to police dog "Corporal Oliveira," at the 17 Military Police Battalion's station, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Oliveira is one of two rescue dogs that have turned into local mascots and budding online influencers after joining their rescuers' ranks.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — In Rio de Janeiro, two rescue dogs have turned local mascots and budding online influencers after joining their rescuers' ranks, wooing their growing audience, one bark at a time.

Corporal Oliveira, a dog with short brown hair thought to be around four years old, turned up one morning in 2019 at a police station on Rio's Governador Island, injured and weak.

“I gave him food, water. It took a while for him to get used to me,” said Cpl. Cristiano Oliveira, the officer who took the dog under his wing and later gave him his name. But within a few days, Corporal Oliveira – the furry animal – started following his new master around the precinct. Oliveira has since joined another precinct, but the dog never left.

Corporal Oliveira has his own Instagram profile with more than 45,000 fervent followers, always hungry for more photos and videos of their mascot in his trademark police uniform, standing on top of police armoured vehicles, motorcycles or sticking his little head out of a regular patrol car's window. He even has a miniature toy firearm attached to his uniform.

A dozen miles from there, in the leafy and leftist neighborhood of Laranjeiras, another rescue dog has turned mascot.

Lt. Tatiana Gaiao calls up the caramelobombeiro Instagram profile featuring Caramello, a rescue dog, at the Catete Fire Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Caramello's online efforts promote awareness around cancer, or to encourage donations for victims of natural disasters such as the recent deadly landslides in Petropolis. He's also helped other rescue dogs or cats find new homes.
Lt. Tatiana Gaiao calls up the caramelobombeiro Instagram profile featuring Caramello, a rescue dog, at the Catete Fire Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Caramello's online efforts promote awareness around cancer, or to encourage donations for victims of natural disasters such as the recent deadly landslides in Petropolis. He's also helped other rescue dogs or cats find new homes.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Caramello – a name inspired by the colour of his fur – has been residing at the fire brigade that found him injured across the iconic Sugarloaf mountain ever since he was rescued nearly a year ago. During that time, the 11-year-old dog has amassed some 27,000 followers.

Older, and slightly less adventurous then Corporal Oliveira, Caramello's online efforts have focused on drawing attention to a wide range of good causes and campaigns.

He has used his newly found clout to promote awareness around cancer, or to encourage donations for victims of natural disasters such as the recent deadly landslides in Petropolis. He's also helped other rescue dogs or cats find new homes.

Rescue dog Caramello carries a toy in his mouth at the Catete Fire Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Caramello – a name inspired by the color of his fur – has been residing at the fire brigade that found him injured across the iconic Sugarloaf mountain ever since he was rescued nearly a year ago. During that time, the 11-year-old dog has amassed some 27,000 instagram followers.
Rescue dog Caramello carries a toy in his mouth at the Catete Fire Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 12, 2022. Caramello – a name inspired by the color of his fur – has been residing at the fire brigade that found him injured across the iconic Sugarloaf mountain ever since he was rescued nearly a year ago. During that time, the 11-year-old dog has amassed some 27,000 instagram followers.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

“Caremello is a real digital influencer,” said Maj. Fabio Contreiras, from the Catete Fire Brigade, one of Rio de Janeiro’s oldest.

But with fame, comes burden. And the dogs' fans are demanding.

“Sometimes I have too much work. I go a week without posting and people complain: ‘Where is (Corporal) Oliveira? Has he gone missing?’,” jokes Oliveira, the police officer in charge of the dog’s social media. He can get more than 200 messages in one day. Sometimes, he just has to tell them: “He’s on holiday!”

Children pet police dog
Children pet police dog "Corporal Oliveira" at the 17 Military Police Battalion's station, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, April 7, 2022. Oliveira has his own Instagram profile with more than 45,000 followers.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

A man gives a toy to rescue dog Caramello, held on a leash by handler Lt. Tatiana Gaiao, at the Catete Fire Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
A man gives a toy to rescue dog Caramello, held on a leash by handler Lt. Tatiana Gaiao, at the Catete Fire Brigade in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Tuesday, April 12, 2022.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Police dog
Police dog "Corporal Oliveira" wearing a uniform outfitted with a miniature toy gun, rests at the 17 Military Police Battalion's station, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, April 7, 2022.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

A driver stops to pet police dog
A driver stops to pet police dog "Corporal Oliveira", at the 17 Military Police Battalion's station, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Thursday, April 7, 2022.
Image Credit: (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
News from © The Associated Press, 2022
The Associated Press

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