RIO DE JANEIRO – At one Carnival street party in Rio de Janeiro, the revelers weren't as skilled at dancing samba as they were at wagging their tails.
More than 100 festive pet owners dressed their dogs in flashy costumes of superheroes and princesses on Saturday for a parade to celebrate animal life in Brazil's most joyful season.
"Carnival is synonymous with partying, and animals are too. They give us so much happiness," said Raquel Santos while she petted her shy, 6-month-old Maltese named Zoe who was dressed as Snow White. "I couldn't wait for this. Now that I see them all cute and dressed up, I want to squeeze them all."
Several others were also dressed as the popular princess, and other canines represented Superman and Wonder Woman. An obedient bulldog stayed on top of a skateboard as his owner glided through, and a mutt wore a fruit headpiece and a colorful skirt like Carmen Miranda, the legendary samba singer and actress popular in the 1940s.
The celebration included a woman who has become an animal protection crusader in Brazil after a video of her two French bulldogs being abused gained wide attention earlier this month. A camera hidden in her living room by Ninna Mandin caught her fiancé severely beating her pets. The recording prompted Mandin to break off her engagement. On Saturday, she celebrated Carnival with her two pooches, Gucci and Victoria, who were dressed as clowns.
"It was hard to find the courage to go through what I did, but it was the best thing I could do. Unfortunately they suffered, but I wanted to show society that this could be happening in anyone's house," Mandin said. "What I want now is for them to be happy."
The dog party is one of hundreds of street fests lighting up Rio for Carnival, which opened Friday.