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"Lion" dog gives Virginia residents a scare

Charles the dog caused a scare in a Norfolk, Va., neighborhood this week when residents and passers-by mistook him and his curly mane for a lion.

CBS affiliate WTKR-TV reports Charles, a Labrador-poodle mix, was strolling down the street after an appointment at the groomer's when the 911 calls started coming in.

"I'd like to report a lion sighting," a caller said.

"Say that again?" the dispatcher responded.

A few minutes later, another call came in: "I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion. Had the mane and everything ... I don't know if it got away from the zoo, or what," a man said.

Another woman told a 911 dispatcher the "baby lion" is the size of a Labrador retriever, also citing the nearby Virginia Zoo.

The Norfolk Police Department responded by contacting the zoo and assuring all its lions were accounted for. The wild animals were all asleep.

Charles and Virginia Zoo director Greg Brockheim.
Charles and Virginia Zoo director Greg Brockheim. WTKR

Authorities soon realized that the animal in question was no lion, but a dog with a creative haircut.

The dog's owner, Daniel Painter, told WTKR-TV he shaves the dog's hair that way to represent Old Dominion University's lion mascot -- his daughter goes to school there.

Charles, 3, appears to enjoy being the center of attention. He has his own Facebook page, full with pictures from puppyhood to adulthood. His bio gives the full name "Charles the Monarch" and describes him as a "party animal."

Now, that page is full of links to articles and appearances on television, thanks to the lion scare fiasco that has made him a national star.

"Who wants a pawtograph?" one post says.

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