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Shelter dogs given ‘new start’ as ball boys

A dog picks up a tennis ball during the Brazil Open tournament in Sao Paulo, Brazil, Thursday Feb. 25, 2016. The dog was one of four trained animals that engaged onlookers Thursday night by picking up balls that went out of bounds. Not long ago, the same dogs had run abandoned in Sao Paulo, Brazil’s biggest city. The unusual initiative was made to promote the adoption of abandoned street animals. (AP Photo/Leandro Martins)

Shelter dogs given ‘new start’ as ball boys

Shelter dogs outshone tennis stars at this year's Brazil Open in a bid to raise awareness for animal adoption.

Shelter dogs given ‘new start’ as ball boys

This ‘match’ really was made in heaven. Employing dogs as ‘ball boys’ makes so much sense, we’re confused as to why no one had thought of this earlier.

To raise awareness for the importance of an adopt-not-shop mentality when it comes to animals, four expertly trained canines had their moment in the Sao Paulo spotlight, last week.

Dogs Frida, Costela, Mel and Isabelle were rescued from the streets of Sao Paulo and have been training for months ahead of last week’s match.


The dogs retrieved the stray balls during the Roberto Carballes Baena and Gastao Elias’ exhibition game. Whilst for the most part, they diligently returned the ball, the dogs required a little extra encouragement from the players at some points.

Andrea Beckert from the Association of Animal Wellbeing hoped that the introduction of these shelter dogs would encourage the public to have a more positive mentality about adoption.

“These are dogs that were mistreated. We have to make them adapt, feel the environment, the court, the noise of the balls and the noise of the people,” she told the Associated Press.

“We want to show that abandoned dogs can be adopted and trained,” Beckert added. “After all, it’s not easy to get a dog to only pick up the lost balls, and then to give them up!”

The association currently shelters 1,200 dogs and hopes to continue to raise awareness about animal abuse through this incredible initiative.

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