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Abandoned homemade tennis ball 'firecrackers' pose special risk to dogs

He's holding a real tennis ball, but how would he know if it wasn't? (KOMO Photo)

SEATTLE -- If you come across an abandoned tennis ball lying on the ground, be careful about picking it up. It could be someone's explosive idea of July 4th entertainment.

Especially around the 4th, people turn tennis balls into homemade giant firecrackers. That in itself is both illegal and dangerous. But abandoned tennis ball bombs have been discovered in wooded areas as well as in busy neighborhoods.

They pose an obvious danger to humans- who can lose a hand, part of an arm- and worse. What's not as obvious, until you think about it, is the considerable threat to dogs, which love tennis balls for playing fetch.

Tennis ball bombs can turn up any where. One local man found them during a hike near a lake in Everett last February. In 2000, a man in Portland found one while walking a dog. Thinking it was a ball, he tossed it a few times for the dog to catch. The ball exploded in the dogs mouth, resulting in injuries so serious the animal had to be euthanized on the spot.

Before you or your dog touch a stray tennis ball - look for signs of tampering and make sure the tennis ball is really a ball. Warning signs include detectable seams where the ball has been cut open, something sticking out of the ball that could be used as a fuse, or a small hole where the fuse use to be.

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