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In an attempt to raise awareness and remind pet owners to bring their dogs inside during harsh winter weather, three Saginaw County, Michigan animal control officers will spend a winter night outside, with only dog houses for shelter.
“We’re their voice, we’re the ones that step up to the plate for them,” said Michigan’s Saginaw County Animal Control Officer Joaquin Guerrero.
In response to the dozens of calls they get every single day from concerned animal lovers reporting dogs left alone in subfreezing temperatures, three mid-Michigan animal control officers are putting themselves, literally, “in the dog house.”
On January 12, Guerrero and two other officers will brave the elements. From 6pm until 8am the following morning, the officers will sleep outdoors at Apple Mountain in Thomas Township.
Two of the officers will be camped out in dog houses custom made by prisoners at the Saginaw Correctional Facility to fit their sizes. The third will spend the night without a shelter. With only the clothes on their backs and a little bit of straw, the officers will brave the cold just as a dog would.
To further drive his point home, Officer Guerrero will be tethered in place by a chain to illustrate what it’s like for a dog that’s tied up and can’t escape to warmth and comfort.
“Lot 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’s personal goal is to make it through the night.
The officers will be Facebooking Live throughout the night, sharing their experience with as many people as possible.
Students from Hemmeter Elementary will be present overnight – sleeping inside where it’s warm, of course – to check the officer’s temperatures and record their thoughts and comfort levels for a class project. There will also be medical staff on hand to make sure the officers are safe.
“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 told KFOR.
Supporters in the area are welcomed and encouraged to visit the officers throughout the night and cheer them on.