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WASHINGTON — The post office is holding out a friendly paw to dogs, and cats too.

A new set of 10 first-class stamps featuring cheerful dogs and cats will go on sale nationwide on Friday, designed to promote adoption of animals from shelters.

The 44-cent stamps are part of a “Stamps to the Rescue” campaign, not only to encourage pet adoptions but also raising funds to buy food for animals in shelters.

The stamps feature photographs of five cats and five dogs taken by photographer Sally Andersen-Bruce. All ten animals were adopted from a shelter in New Milford, CT.

Previous postage stamps featuring cats and dogs have included a 13-cent stamp of a kitten and puppy playing in the snow in 1982; a set of pet stamps in 1998 and in 2002 when a kitten and puppy were featured on the “Neuter or Spay” stamps.