As the head of PETA's Cruelty Investigations Department, I learn of far too many new cases of animal abuse and neglect every day. One of the more common problems in the areas near PETA's Virginia headquarters is the pure heartbreak of dogs forced to spend their entire lives—day in and day out, night after night—at the end of a chain, often with little to no protection from the harsh elements.
Blackout was one of those dogs. When my team met him, he was confined to a tiny patch of dirt, and his only shelter from the frigid winter cold and the blistering summer heat was a cheap, plastic box. The "shelter" that Blackout had been provided with did little to protect him from howling winds and would fill with water that could ice over as temperatures dropped. It was so meager that he would at times rip it apart out of boredom and frustration, leaving him with no protection at all.
My team frequently learns of animals who have known no other existence than a painfully lonely "life" at the end of a heavy chain, confined to a barren area, or living among piles of junk and debris. As if the emotional neglect alone weren't bad enough, these dogs are subjected to the elements—rain, wind, snow, or sleet. Some are suffering from frostbite or shaking uncontrollably because of the cold.
PETA fieldworkers always try to convince guardians to allow their dogs to live indoors—warm and safe from the elements. We know that you agree with PETA that living indoors is the only acceptable life for a canine family member. But we battle "old school" thinking and ignorance, so that is often easier said than done. When it is not possible for a dog to live indoors—and there are no violations of the law that warrant intervention from local authorities—we will do all that we can to improve that animal's quality of life.
Often, that can mean delivering a brand-new PETA-built doghouse. While not the "home" that we would like to provide, these high-quality doghouses can mean the difference between life and death for "outdoor dogs." Every recipient of a sturdy doghouse receives more than just shelter. We provide straw to help insulate and keep dry the dog's new home and living area, as well as much-appreciated love and hugs, toys, and regular follow-up visits to check on the dog's well-being.
Thanks to the dedication of "Angels for Animals" sponsors, PETA has built more than 4,000 rugged doghouses and delivered them to some of the most impoverished areas in Virginia and North Carolina. Thousands of animals' lives have been changed by this unique program.