Temperatures in Saginaw County, Michigan have been in the single digits with wind chills well into the negatives. Despite the deep freeze, animal control officers for Saginaw County Animal Care & Control receive daily calls about dogs left out in the cold. In order to raise awareness to this potentially deadly problem, three brave officers have volunteered to sleep outdoors in custom-made dog houses.
“We’re their voice, we’re the ones that step up to the plate for them,” Officer Joaquin Guerrero told WNEM TV5 News.
The brave animal lovers will remain outside in the elements at Apple Mountain on the night of January 12 from 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the following day. Two of the officers will have access to limited shelter in the form of custom-constructed dog houses made by prisoners at the Saginaw Correctional Facility. The third will have no shelter at all.
The “doghouses” were designed to be large enough for the officers to crawl in and sit down. They will be stuffed with a layer of straw for warmth. Otherwise Guerrero and his companions are on their own – just like far too many dogs.
“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.
Guerrero has even committed to an additional step to simulate the plight of dogs left out in the cold. He will wear a chain to demonstrate the limits tethering places on an animal’s mobility and ability to seek warmth.
“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,” Guerrero said.
Medical personnel will be on hand as well as a group of students from a nearby elementary school who plan to monitor the officers’ temperatures as part of a school project. Guerrero will also be joined by his 16-week-old “partner” Little Chief, a German Shepherd who will remain safely indoors for most of the night.
Community members are invited to stop by and cheer the officers on. The Saginaw County Animal Care Center will happily accept donations. For those who don’t want to brave the elements, Guerrero plans to check in periodically via Facebook Live.
H/T to WNEM TV5 News