NFL Star Dont’a Hightower: ALL Dogs, Big or Small, Deserve to Live Indoors

New England Patriots linebacker Dont’a Hightower knows the meaning of the word “cold”—the average low temperature at his home stadium in Foxboro, Massachusetts, is a balmy 24.1 degrees. So PETA knew the three-time Super Bowl champion—and his dog, Meko, affectionately called “the best dog ever” by Dont’a in typical dog-dad fashion—was the perfect athlete to join our campaign to help neglected dogs forced to live outside in the cold.

Dont'a Hightower in PETA Ad for Dogs

“It’s depriving them from what they need. I mean, they’re loving and caring animals, too. They need it just as much as we do.  … And I mean, if I’m cold, I know my dog is cold.”
—Dont’a Hightower

In his exclusive PETA video, Dont’a makes a direct appeal to Patriot fans, saying, “I would hope that you guys love your dog as much as you love the Patriots.” Whether you’re a New England fan or could care less about football, Dont’a’s message of compassion applies to anyone who decides to care for a dog or any other animal companion. He joins a long list of professional athletes, including Tyrann Mathieu, Cam Newton, and Alex Morgan, who have joined PETA to speak up for animals.

All dogs should have opportunities to enjoy fresh air and explore all the smells of the great outdoors with their guardian’s supervision—but they also need to be protected and live indoors with their families. Millions of dogs across the country don’t get this relief, because their “home” is a patch of dirt outside. They’re forced to eat, sleep, and relieve themselves outdoors 24/7, no matter how unbearably hot or cold it is and no matter whether it’s sleeting or pouring rain.

“It’s too cold for you, it’s too cold for your dog.”
—Dont’a Hightower

PETA’s fieldworkers visit and care for these dogs on a daily basis, in all weather extremes. They answer calls for help from people living in some of the most underserved communities in southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina, where animals often have no one else to help them.

As part of Dont’a’s campaign, PETA is launching a billboard of his beautiful ad in our service area. To learn more about the work PETA’s fieldworkers do to help dogs and inform their guardians in this region, check out the documentary Breaking the Chain, produced by Oscar-winning actor Anjelica Huston.

Dont'a Hightower Billboard for PETA

“With anything that you stand up for or that you believe in, I think it starts with awareness. It starts with a voice. No matter how big or small you might think your voice is, a voice is a voice, and once a voice gets heard, you can only multiply that. And that’s part of what awareness is, is getting that out.”
—Dont’a Hightower

During cold winter months, “outdoor dogs” struggle to keep warm and have no choice but to curl up into a tight ball and shiver—or shift from paw to paw in an effort to escape the cold ground. When temperatures drop, PETA fieldworkers see dogs doing things like that on a daily basis. The animals they visit are kept chained or penned outdoors, deprived of adequate food, water, shelter, veterinary care, and the love of a family. Dogs are social pack animals who suffer terribly when they’re kept isolated outdoors, without the companionship and interaction they crave.

You Can Help

Help PETA end animal homelessness by adopting animals if you’re ready for a lifelong commitment, never buying them, always spaying or neutering your animal companions, and urging officials to pass laws that ban tethering, breeding, and selling animals in pet shops. If you ever witness animal abuse, stop it if you can do so safely or at least report it.

Help a Cold Dog: Sponsor a Doghouse

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 Ingrid E. Newkirk

“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

— Ingrid E. Newkirk, PETA President and co-author of Animalkind