Animal Control Officers Risk Their Lives To Show The Danger Of Leaving Dogs Outside In the Winter

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Winter hit the country hard this year with frigid temperatures. Dogs and cats are not built for the cold temperatures and need to be kept indoors. If it is too cold for you, then it is too cold for your dog or cat.

Numerous animals have already been saved from freezing to death this winter. Thor was found in a duffel bag abandoned in a park. Other animals are being left outside shelters in the cold before the shelters open, like this sweet dog whose owners tied her to a bench in front of a shelter in 7-degree weather. In Michigan, a man left a cat and two kittens shivering in the 4-degree air. They were all saved in time and are doing well, thankfully.

The record low temperatures have also killed many pets who were left outdoors. To prevent more from dying, animal rescue organizations are turning to social media to spread the word: Bring your dogs and cats inside!

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Animal control officers in Saginaw County, Michigan, are taking it a step further. On January 12, 2018, officers Joaquin Guerrero, Trish Barnes, and Anthony Trevino will be spending the night outside in the elements to show what it’s like for a pet. The officers have partnered with Project Underdog to educate the public on winter safety for dogs. Two of the officers will be staying in “custom-made dog houses, built by prisoners at the Saginaw Correctional Facility,” according to WNEM.com. Just like many dogs, the officers will only have straw inside the dog houses to stay warm.

“[They’ll] fit to our body size so we’re able to crawl in and sit down in them,” Guerrero said.

Photo:Facebook/Project Underdog

Photo:Facebook/Project Underdog


“Lots of times when people become dog owners they think, ‘oh they’re a dog, they can sustain, do whatever.’ But they’re not educated for the summer weather, the fall, the spring, the winter, and we run into these problems,” Guerrero said.

In addition to being without shelter, the third officer will be chained – an unfortunate reality for so many dogs in the winter.

“They’re stuck there, they can’t move, they can’t let their natural instincts kick in for them,” Guerrero explained. “We’ve got to be that voice for them. We’ve got to help them so it doesn’t happen, so we don’t find these animals frozen. And that, we can’t save them all, but the ones we can save, or the awareness we can bring, that just keeps educating more people and more people.”

The officers will be reporting live on Facebook. Local students from Hemmeter Elementary will be involved as well. Students will monitor the officers’ temperatures and comfort levels throughout the night as part of a school project, reporting on the real-life effects of the officers’ exposure to freezing temperatures.

Check out the video about why these officers are doing this and what they hope the outcome will be.

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UPDATE: The officers performed their overnight stay in 11-degree weather. One of the officers surrendered to the cold weather and heavy metal chain around her neck at 9:30pm. The other two officers barely made it the full time. One of the officer’s body temperature was near hypothermia, so he needed to walk around to warm up. The officers hope that this demonstration will raise awareness to pet owners and dogs will be brought inside in the cold. Check out the full story here.

Watch the video for full details.

We were so moved by the officers’ devotion to help animals that GreaterGood.org is working with FreeKibble and Halo to donate 5,000 meals to Saginaw County Animal Care & Control.

Feral Cat Winter

If you see an animal in need, please call your local law enforcement. No pet should be left out in the cold.

There is nothing better than curling up by a warm fire in a fluffy blanket on a cold winter night. Your dog agrees, so please bring him in and cuddle together to stay warm. Dogs and cats do not ask for much—just a warm place to sleep, food, and your love. Please call a shelter if you can no longer care for you pet.

Feral cats are at risk of freezing to death in the winter. Check out how you can help them.

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Andrea Powell is an animal enthusiast who lives in West Michigan. Her horse and 3 dogs are her children. She loves to write and share her knowledge of equine and canine nutrition. In her spare time she likes to volunteer with animal rescues, camp with her husband and dogs, and trail ride with her horse.
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