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Doghouse demonstration highlights dangers pets face when exposed to winter temperatures

Union Leader Correspondent

February 13. 2018 11:50PM
Pelham Animal Control Officer Allison Caprigno, left, and Ian Matheson, who volunteers for the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, spent nearly six hours in a doghouse Monday night to highlight the dangers pets face when exposed to winter temperatures. (Courtesy SPCA)

STRATHAM — Allison Caprigno and Ian Matheson were in the doghouse for nearly six hours Monday night.

The pair volunteered to crawl into two doghouses set up outside the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals to raise awareness of the dangers pets face when they’re left out in the cold.

“It was definitely pretty chilly,” said Caprigno, who is Pelham’s animal control officer.

Matheson, who volunteers for the SPCA’s field services, came up with the idea for the doghouse event and Caprigno agreed to join him for the night, but they ended up calling quits just before midnight as temperatures dropped and their bodies chilled.

SPCA Executive Director Lisa Dennison said it’s the first time the shelter has held such an event.

“This year we had a particularly bitter cold snap. We just had numerous calls and greater concern for animals that are outside. Animals have been dying in multiple places around the country,” she said.

With temperatures in the low 30s at the 6 p.m. start time, Caprigno said the first hour was tolerable. But the temperature continued to plunge and reached about 22 degrees by the time they exited the doghouses and moved to a warmer place.

“Slowly your feet would get cold. It just kind of worked its way up,” said Caprigno, whose body temperature was 97 degrees shortly before she left the doghouse.

An emergency medical technician who was on hand to keep an eye on the pair was surprised that they were able to last nearly six hours, Caprigno said.

She said she hopes the experience makes others realize that while doghouses are legal, they’re not always the best housing for a pet in the winter months.

“I think a lot of people got the message and were very, very supportive,” she said.

Dennison said a doghouse can provide proper shelter from the sun during warmer months, but it’s often not adequate in winter.

“Most animals can’t really stand it,” she said.

Animals Stratham

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