Animal control officers to sleep in dog houses

By Rebecca Trylch

Saginaw County, Michigan (WJRT) -- Some Mid-Michigan animal control officers will soon be in the dog house.

But they're not in trouble, they're trying to raise awareness about a serious issue.

Officers at Saginaw County Animal Control take calls every day about animals, especially dogs, left out in the elements too long.

"We're their voice, we're the ones that step up to the plate for them," said Officer Joaquin Guerrero.

Guerrero and two other officers hope their voices are heard loud and clear on Jan. 12.

From 6 p.m. until 8 a.m. the next day they plan to sleep outdoors at Apple Mountain in Thomas Township.

Two of the officers will be in custom-made dog houses being made by prisoners at the Saginaw Correctional Facility.

The third officer will be without shelter.

"It'll fit to our body size so we're able to crawl in and sit down in them," Guerrero said.

They'll have some straw inside, and then the officers will try to stay warm, just like a dog would.

"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.

Officer Guerrero will be joined by his partner, "Little Chief". Students from Hemmeter Elementary will be there too.

The 16-week-old German Shepherd will be safely inside for most of the night, as will the students.

The Hemmeter students will be there to monitor the officers' temperatures and comfort levels throughout the night for a school project.

Throughout the night Guerrero will do Facebook Lives for people who don't want to brave the elements with him. Click on the 'Related Link' with this story to go to the Facebook page.

"My goal, my personal goal is to make it through the night," Guerrero said.

To simulate another challenge outdoor dogs face, Guerrero will have a chain. It's meant to illustrate what it's like for dogs who are tied up and can't find a warm place to curl up.

"They're stuck there, they can't move, they can't let their natural instincts kick in for them," Guerrero said.

There will be medical personnel there too to make sure the officers are okay, unlike many pets who don't have that safety net.

"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.

Guerrero said community members are welcome to stop by and cheer them on. They will also be taking monetary donations for the Saginaw County Animal Care Center. Money raised will go to caring for the animals.

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