RIO DE JANEIRO — Beaten, shorn and robbed. That is what happened early Friday morning to Vinicius, the lovable mongrel and Rio Olympics mascot, after a night of partying near Copacabana Beach, according to officials.
A Souza Aguiar Hospital spokesperson says that the six-foot, 125-pound creature was left with multiple abrasions and fractures, and that large portions of his trademark yellow fur had been shaved off.
Around 4:10 a.m. local time, Vinicius was leaving a shop where he had purchased beer and a can of dog food when unknown assailants pulled him to the back of the building, demanding that he hand over his money and alcohol, although they permitted him to keep the dog food, according to police reports.
“Because the victim doesn’t wear pants, he’s got no pockets, you see, so he is limited to carrying in his cartoonish paws a single 100-real ($33) bill, so that’s all the suspects got,” said Capt. Tarisco Carvalho of the city’s civil police force. “Apparently, they were so angered by the small take, they began shouting speciesist slurs which escalated into a physical assault.”
Using battery-powered hair clippers, one of the suspects sheared Vinicius while the others beat him, at one point even using Vinicius’s own green tail to whip him across the face. The suspects fled when tourists came to the animal’s defense. After an initial flub in which witnesses first dialed animal control instead of emergency medical services, paramedics eventually arrived. However, Vinicius’s fortunes did not immediately improve.
“Our beloved mongrel and proud symbol of our city suffered further injury and embarrassment, as the dimensions of his head are such that paramedics couldn’t fit him into the ambulance, and he suffered a minor concussion as they tried to jam him through the door,” Carvalho said. “The only option was to tie him down in the back of a flatbed truck, which led to humiliating laughter and cheering from drunken passersby who mistook the weird spectacle for a publicity event.”
The outpouring of support has been swift. As of Friday, Vinicius had received cards, flowers and gifts from all over the world, including 600 pounds of Purina dog food from a generous donor in Iowa.