When asked what old mattresses, beat-up exercise equipment, flimsy wooden crates, and shabby plastic bins all have in common, your first thought might be that they all have a spot waiting for them at the dump. But these items, which most would consider trash, are the only “shelter” that some dogs have to protect themselves from extreme weather conditions.
For many of us, our dogs are members of the family, and we can’t imagine forcing them to live outside on a chain or confined to a muddy pen. Many of the dogs pictured below live in poor rural areas that lack resources such as full-service animal shelters, animal control officers, and local veterinarians and have few laws to protect animals.
Most neglected dogs languish in backyards, sheds, and garages. PETA fieldworkers provide them with doghouses, straw bedding, food, treats, toys, flea and fly treatments, emergency veterinary care, low- or no-cost spay/neuter surgeries, and often, the only kind words or tummy rubs they’ll ever receive.
These photos, taken by PETA fieldworkers on their daily rounds, will give you an idea of how desperately these animals need us to speak up for them.
Flimsy plastic doghouses offer very little protection from the cold. It looks like the rain would pour into this one, too.
This one is made out of an overturned trash can—which reveals how much this dog’s owner cares.
Surely, this car was useful for many years, but here it sits as an oversized tie out post for these dogs to be chained to for hours on end.
It’s safe to say that this dog would rather be lying on that mattress indoors than freezing under it outdoors.
This is the face of a dog whose owner thinks that an old bench press and some dirty car mats are enough to provide protection from the elements.
Set this up in your living room, and it’s an awesome fort! Place it outside, and it’s a sorry excuse for a doghouse.
Confining a dog to a crate for hours on end—or even days, as some unfeeling people do—inside your home is bad enough, but crating a dog outside with no protection from the cold and rain is truly cruel.
The only item in this picture useful to the dog is the straw, which PETA fieldworkers provided.
We’re not exactly sure what this is, but it definitely isn’t a doghouse.
Think about walking on a concrete or tile floor in the winter with bare feet. Now make a tube out of that hard, cold floor and put it outdoors with freezing wet blankets and no insulation. Yeah, no fun.
Last but not least, here we have a (former) pile of cedar shavings and an overturned food bowl. The look on this lonely pup’s face says it all. Note: even if chaining is legal in some areas, all dogs must be provided with access to shelter.
The good news is that PETA provided the dogs in these photos with sturdy, custom-built doghouses (and two of them now live indoors!). Our doghouses can never take the place of an indoor home where dogs are treated like members of the family (which our fieldworkers always urge people to provide). One of the joys of caring for dogs is seeing them curl up into that adorable doughnut-shaped ball and knowing that they’re safe and warm indoors with us.
But a secure doghouse can mean the difference between life and death for dogs left outdoors on even the coldest days.
Together, we can help more “backyard dogs”! Here’s what you can do:
If a dog is in danger or is chained in an area where it’s illegal, call the authorities. Many counties and cities have laws addressing chaining. See the list of such places or look up your local law on Municode.com. Even if your area doesn’t have such a law, “backyard dogs” must still be provided with shelter, adequate food, and clean water as well as veterinary care if they are sick or injured. If a dog is bone-thin, is obviously ill or injured, or has no access to shelter—notify animal control or the police immediately. If neither responds quickly, contact us anytime, day or night
If chaining is permitted in your area and you know of any chained dogs who are not in an emergency situation, your best option for improving their lives is to befriend the owners. Be super-polite and friendly and get permission to visit and care for the dog:
- Ask if you can take the dog for walks.
- With the owner’s approval, offer the dog some toys and treats.
- Visit regularly. (But be careful not to become a nuisance. Follow your instincts based on the owner’s response to your involvement.)
- If needed, offer to help with grooming, such as nail-trimming, or to take the dog to the vet.
- Without being confrontational,talk to the owner about the dog’s needs.