Sometimes even a fur coat is not enough to allow a dog to cope with icy winter weather.
So on Saturday, the ASPCA and New York Cares joined forces with the NYPD to launch Operation Gimme Shelter, a pilot program with the aim of helping dog owners keep their pets just a little bit warmer in the winter.
The doghouse giveaway took place in the parking of the NYPD’s 113th Precinct. Colleen Doherty of the ASPCA, a cruelty intervention manager, said the precinct was chosen because of a high number of reports of larger dogs in the area being left outside this winter without adequate shelter.
She said the effort is a preventive one.
“There are things we like to address before they become a cruelty issue,” she said.
The two-piece plastic shelters are insulated, though Doherty said they recommend lining them with hay, particularly in the arctic temperatures that the New York City area has seen in recent weeks.
Doherty said Saturday’s offerings were limited to large and extra-large structures in keeping with the sizes of dogs that keep turning up in reports to 311.
The NYPD has taken over enforcement of animal cruelty cases.
Cherry Ashui, who came by with her bull terrier Max, said she found out about the giveaway online. Another resident said he found out from a friend who is a police officer.
Kendall Hawkins of Jamaica brought along his 3-year-old pit bull, Butter, to survey his new hangout. And he believes the same house that will give his pet shelter in the cold will come in just as handy in the summer when dogs need shade.
“Sometimes when I’m at work I leave him outside,” Hawkins said.
ASPCA spokeswoman Rebecca Goldrick declined to specify the number of doghouses to be given out on Saturday.
But she said that if they ran out the association would offer IOUs to get the structures quickly to anyone who showed up at Saturday’s event.
“We will work with everyone who comes here today,” she said shortly after Saturday’s event kicked off.
Goldrick and Doherty also said that the turnout and results would be critiqued in the coming weeks to prepare for future giveaways.
Dog owners also were invited to take bags of food, leashes and ID tags, all part of the ASPCA’s effort to keep man’s best friends safe, healthy and happy.
New York Cares, which helped purchase the dog houses and supplies, is far better known for helping keep people warm in the winter with the citywide coat drive it has held for the last 25 years.
“But we care about dogs too,” said Cameron Shore, who is manager of disaster, rebuilding and special projects for the charity. “We’re also providing some transportation for people who don’t have vehicles to take the doghouses home.
For those who did, NYPD auxiliary police officers from the 113th Precinct were on hand to help load the pieces into people’s cars.
An NYPD spokesman said the department would gladly agree to host a similar event is asked by the ASPCA.