Labradoodle mistaken for lion prompts 911 calls

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NORFOLK, Va. (AP) -- A lion reported on the loose in Norfolk is actually a Labradoodle with a cut resembling the shaggy mane and tawny coat of a big cat.

Daniel Painter's dog, Charles the Monarch, so resembles the king of the jungle that police received a call Tuesday of a baby lion on the loose.

Callers told 911 operations with Norfolk Police.

"Um, hello. I'd like to report a lion sighting," said one man. Soon after that, another caller reported "I just saw an animal that looked like a small lion. It had the mane and everything." "I just saw a baby lion on Colley Avenue and 50th Street," a third caller reported. And there were more calls.

"There was a lion that ran across the street, a baby lion," a woman told dispatchers, adding "It was about the size of a Labrador retriever."

The Virginian-Pilot reports that police called the Norfolk Zoo to make sure their two lions were in their cages, which they were.

The dog's coif is, in fact, intended to look like the mascot of Old Dominion University.

"They say you didn't get to our tailgating parties, so I have to make everybody's tailgating party with Charles. He's a big hit," Painter told 13News.

This wasn't Charles' first case of mistaken identity. Painter said police have told him several times people have reported seeing a lion when it was really his dog.

He often tells people he's a "lab-a-lion."