With temperatures expected to drop into the teens, three animal control officers in Michigan are going to sleep outside overnight on Jan. 12, hoping to call attention to what it's like for pets that have to stay outdoors in the cold. Two of the officers will sleep in custom-made doghouses, while one will sleep outside, unprotected from the elements.

Tricia Barnes is an officer with Saginaw County Animal Control and vice president of Project Underdog, a group of volunteers who provides shelter, vaccinations, spay/neuter and supplies to dogs in need.

Barnes suggested the idea to her fellow officers when they were delivering doghouses to some outdoor dogs in inclement weather. So they decided to do an event, dubbing it "Freezin' for a Reason." Barnes will stay in a doghouse on a bed of blankets (which, she points out, typically freeze). Officer Joaquin Guerrero will sleep in a doghouse filled with straw. Officer Anthony Trevino will lay outside on the ground with no shelter.

"We are trying to use life scenarios that we see on the job daily," Barnes tells MNN.

Saginaw County Animal Control Officers Barnes, Guerrero and Trevino Officers Barnes, Guerrero and Trevino will need serious layers for their 'Freezin' for a Reason' event. (Photo: Saginaw County Animal Control)

A school group will document the project, checking on the trio every hour and recording the effects of the weather. They'll be recording the temperature outside and inside the doghouses, as well as the officers' temperatures.

"They will check to see how long the water will take to freeze, and we are going to throw scraps of food and see how long it takes to freeze," says Barnes.

The students, who will be staying in a warm building in between their data checks, will be recording the officers for at least 12 hours. The officers will have medical help on standby and, if things get too bad, they can go into the building to warm up. They'll broadcast on Facebook Live and take donations during the event for Saginaw County Animal Control and Project Underdog.

"We are hoping this make a difference in the community; we want to educate animals owners not just write them tickets all the time," says Barnes. "I wish we could save them all but I know we can’t. If we can at least save one dog doing this, that warms my heart. Saving one dog will not change the world, but surely for that one dog, the world will change forever."

Mary Jo DiLonardo writes about everything from health to parenting — and anything that helps explain why her dog does what he does.

These animal control officers are in the doghouse — literally
Michigan animal advocates will sleep outside to raise awareness about leaving pets in the cold.