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Tennis Ball Bombs

Innocuous looking explosives increase around the Fourth of July.
By JoAnna Lou, June 2016, Updated June 2021

 

 

 

 

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My Border Collie, Scuttle, is obsessed with tennis balls. So when I found out that people turn these fuzzy yellow toys into homemade firecrackers, I was horrified. Even worse, abandoned ball bombs have been found undetonated, ready to explode.

In 2000, a man in Portland, Oregon found one while walking his pup. Thinking it was a ball, he threw it and the ball ended up exploding in the dog's mouth. The injuries sustained were so serious, the pup had to be euthanized on the spot. And just last year an Everett, Washington man found one during a hiking in Silver Lake Park, so these balls are not confined to urban areas.

Most of the official reports seem to be on the west coast, but it's relatively easy for anyone to make one, so they could turn up anywhere. Police all over the country are issuing warnings to watch out for these explosives, which become even more prevalent around the Fourth of July holiday.

It's important to be vigilant and avoid touching any stray tennis ball. If you see one, 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 used to be.

It's unfortunate and scary that we have to worry about these things. Stay safe this holiday weekend!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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 Image: Shutterstock

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.