WACO, Texas (KWTX) A cold front moving through Central Texas has lit a fire under a group of local animal rescuers.
(Photo by Rissa Shaw)
Before sundown Thursday, 'Cribs for Canines,' a group formed last month to build dog houses out of donated materials to keep McLennan County dogs warm, made its first delivery.
"Perfect timing - because it's cold!" said Sylvia Hall, 'Cribs for Canines' Project Coordinator. "It was a tearjerker, emotional, definitely put a lump in my throat but very, very exciting."
Volunteers dropped off, and helped set up, the group's first two dog houses to a home in Waco.
"They are well fed, they are loved, he loves his animals dearly and you can clearly see that, it's just sometimes things happen, and that is the reason that we're here is to help this young man out," said Hall.
The 33-year-old father with a baby says he had makeshift houses for his dogs, Lady and Major, but knew they weren't good enough.
"I work a lot and I go to school, ya know, so I have a lot on my plate already as-is," said Eric Willey. "It's not the greatest living conditions but it's what we have right now, so we're making the best we can."
He says his mother-in-law heard about the new 'Cribs for Canines' program, and before he knew it they were bringing help to his home.
"My female Lady, she went crazy, she was very, very happy," said Willey.
Temperatures fell below freezing overnight Thursday and were expected to dip into the 30s through the weekend.
While it's illegal not to provide proper food, water, and shelter for outdoor pets, it's difficult to enforce, Hall says, so instead of getting them in trouble or shaming them, they want to educate dog owners about how to take better care of their pets and the importance of providing adequate shelter, especially in extreme temperatures.
"It's not about making anybody feel bad if they haven't provided shelter up until this point, sometimes, for whatever reason, things happen and you're not thinking about shelter for your animals, so this is not about bashing the pet owner, this is about helping them," said Hall. "Seek us out at 'Cribs for Canines' and we'll be happy to deliver a house."
Volunteers have been gathering materials to build the houses for several weeks after the group's creation in January.
They use the free shipping crates and donated materials to build, paint, and insulate the dog houses, and provide them to dog owners in need at no cost.
"For free, this is a lot better than I thought it was going to be, they're amazing!" said Willey. "I was amazed, blessed."
Willey said he's thankful and hopes other dog owners put their pride aside and take the help that's available - and easy.
"Just know that Waco has a great, great opportunity for you to get something for your animals, something that can make it where they don't have to be outside in the cold," said Willey. "Put your neighbor in for it, anything, ya know, to help somebody else's out."
'Cribs for Canines' needs donations, especially building materials and plywood, and volunteers to do the labor in order to keep the effort going.
"We have crates coming in just fine, but need plywood and manpower to build and transport," said Hall.
They're also taking hay and blanket donations to put in the houses with the dogs.
Hall said Thursday's delivery was the first of many
"It's inspiring, and I'm ready to go and deliver the next houses," she said.
The group plans on delivering about five more finished dog houses over the weekend; they have igloo-style dog houses on hand for any additional requests that come in until more wooden houses are built.
For more information call Michelle Ann with 'Cribs for Canines' at (715) 530-3001.