Leao, the Brazilian dog that reportedly remained at the grave of its owner for days after the funeral, is a hoax reports the Mayasia Sun.
The story of Leao along with the moving photos above showing the dog seemingly standing guard at graveside went viral over the Internet. It was reported widely by many media outlets and blogs including McCafferty Himself and even CNN.
It seems that Leao is a fictional name for a dog that never really existed. The dog in the photo belongs to Rodolfo Júnior, a grave digger who works at a cemetary in Teresopolis, Brazil.
In interviews with local Brazilian media, Júnior states that his dog often accompanies him to work, and he does not know who took the photo of his dog at the newly dug, unmarked grave.
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However, the photo was submitted to the media through the Getty/AFP network by a company photographer. Either the photographer misunderstood who the dog belonged to or deliberately misrepresented the story.
Hundreds of animals were displaced by the recent floods in the state of Rio de Janeiro according to the Brazilian branch of the World Society for the Protection of Animals (WSPA). However, the WSPA knows of no dog named Leao among the displaced animals.
The WSPA did say that a dog named Caramelo did lose its family in the floods, but that dog has already been placed with a new owner.
Editor’s note: Post updated 7/3/2015.