Denver Broncos cornerback Chris Harris Jr. thinks dogs should live indoors as part of the family, so when he learned that many dogs spend their whole lives chained or confined to a pen outside, he took our challenge to learn firsthand what life is like for “outdoor dogs” during frigid weather.

Thousands of “backyard dogs” across the country struggle to survive in the cold. Many dogs are chained outside 24 hours a day, sometimes with nothing more than an overturned barrel or a piece of plywood for shelter—if they have any shelter at all. Animals left outside during freezing temperatures can suffer from frostbite or die of hypothermia and dehydration when water sources freeze.

Watch Chris come to the defense of dogs forced to live outside by toughing it out in his backyard on a freezing night to show how lonely, cold, and desperate neglected animals are during winter months:

All winter long, PETA’s fieldworkers encounter animals who are suffering terribly from the cold. In addition to being extremely painful, frostbite can lead to the loss of parts of ears, tails, noses, toes, and feet and can also be fatal if injured body parts become infected. And every winter there are several reports of animals found frozen to the ground when temperatures drop.

Cold chained dog in the snow during straw delivery in January 2013.

What You Can Do 

  • Keep your dogs (and cats) indoors. If you can’t stand the cold, neither can they!
  • Wipe off their legs, feet, and abdomens after they’ve been in the snow. Salt and other chemicals can make them sick if licked off their fur and ingested.
  • When it’s cold out, cats sometimes climb under the hood of a warm car and are badly injured or killed when the car is started up again. Be sure to knock on the hood of your car before starting it to alert any kitty who may have climbed inside.
  • Take roaming animals indoors until you can find their guardians, or take them to an animal shelter. If strays won’t let you come near them, provide them with food and water and call your local humane society or animal control for assistance in trapping them and getting them indoors.
  • If you see something, do something! Keep an eye out for “backyard dogs” in your area. Make sure they have fresh water and plenty of food. Politely urge owners to allow their animals to stay indoors, and call the police immediately if you see a dog who’s being denied adequate food, water, or shelter. If the police don’t respond quickly, contact PETA anytime, day or night.
  • Share this blog post with your friends and family to spread the word!

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