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Couple Sleeps With the Dogs for Awareness on Coldest Night of the Year

BRANSON, Mo. -- An Ozarks couple decided to weather the coldest night of the year outside with their dogs.
BRANSON, Mo. -- An Ozarks couple decided to weather the coldest night of the year outside with their dogs.

What began as a wager between a husband and wife turned into a message about protecting your pets during cold weather and a fundraiser for shelter dogs.

"We knew the cold weather was coming in,” says Jerry Leonardo. “I thought maybe I should insulate the doghouse a little bit more."

While Jerry was in the dog house, he noticed how warm it was. That’s where the wager came in.

"And while I was in there I was like 'wow,' it's actually pretty warm in here,” says Jerry. “So I came back in. We decided 'I bet you I could stay out there tonight.' "

From the wager, came a kind of resolution; to see how the dogs fare in extreme winter weather.

"This kind of came as a bet at first that he wouldn’t stay out in the doghouse” says Laura, Jerry’s wife. “So we decided to make it an event and actually do it to see how our pets feel out there."

And from there, the Leonardo’s decided to raise money for Paws and Hands United, a local rescue group.

"We stayed until about 2 o'clock in the morning,” says Jerry. “And then this wind started picking up. It started coming through the cracks… I looked at the two dogs and they were huddled up and shivering and I kind of realized that if it's too cold for them it was too cold for us. I think we should get inside. So, we were planning on being out there until five, but didn't make it, and I think that really made us aware of what our dogs go through."

Laura says the stay in the doghouse ended up raising $520, but also raised awareness for keeping pets warm.

“We had $300 within two hours, before we even went out there,” says Laura. “Not to mention how many people who are going to donate food and blankets and hay. So the response was just amazing."

The night was an eye-opener.

"I think people look out there and they think they're dogs, they're animals, and they're meant to be outside, outdoors,” says Jerry. “But in extreme cases, they're not."

Laura issues a challenge to those who are skeptical of their night in the doghouse.

"I can't even imagine someone not loving and respecting pets,” says Laura. “But for people that are going to roll their eyes I would say 'You know what. Come on over and you can spend the night in our doghouse and see how you feel. We'll let you sleep there.'" That's what I would say."

The Leonardos took their own videos of the experience. Check them out on the Facebook page here.

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