Sean Le Vegan, a 35-year-old web designer, animal activist, and rescue shelter volunteer from the United Kingdom, was baffled by what he saw during his time at the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home, an organization with more than a century’s worth of history saving homeless animals.
While this wonderful organization saves and rehomes nearly 4,000 dogs every year — and with absolutely no government funding to boot — Le Vegan says the Manchester and Cheshire facilities are in need of some serious improvements so the good people who staff and volunteer the rescue group can continue their mission of saving as many homeless animals as possible.
“It is a fantastic charity and has been doing this work for more than 100 years,” Le Vegan explains. “It is in need of cash to refurbish kennels and make it more secure from vandals and thieves.”
So Le Vegan decided to do something about the problems the organization is experiencing. The animal lover came up with a way he could volunteer his time to raise awareness about the plight of shelter dogs. The old adage tells us to take a walk in someone else’s shoes in order to understand their experience. But Le Vegan will quite literally walk on someone else’s leash when he begins his 35-day stay at the Manchester Dogs’ Home, living the life of a shelter dog.
Le Vegan settled on the 35-day time period because 35 days is the average length of time the typical stray dog spends at the Manchester and Cheshire facilities.
“People thought I was crazy when I came up with the idea,” Le Vegan tells the UK Mirror.
For more than a month, Le Vegan will spend his days in a small shelter kennel with nothing but a bowl of water and a blanket to curl up on. He will only be allowed outside of the kennel, which he will share with another dog, for one hour each day to shower and use the washroom. When staff members leave the building around 5 p.m., Le Vegan will remain in his kennel without food or relief until they return the next day at 8 a.m.
Like the 15 dogs brought to one of the organization’s shelters each day, Le Vegan will eat nothing for his first four days — the average time it takes for a scared dog to eat when thrown into a new environment. He’s even had a microchip implanted in his shoulder as part of the shelter’s standard intake procedure.
“It’s going to be really tough,” Le Vegan tells the Huffington Post of his planned kennel stay, “but I didn’t want to dress up in a pickle suit or run 26 miles or any of the usual things.”
“I want to really show people what stray dogs go through, and experience it for myself,” he adds.
Le Vegan will begin his time at the Manchester Dogs’ Home on Oct. 5. Subscribers can opt to pay a fee of £5 ($7.55 USD) to follow along on Le Vegan’s 35-day kennel stay via a CCTV webcam feed on his website, Kennel35.com. Money collected from subscriber fees will be donated to help the animals housed at the Manchester and Cheshire Dogs’ Home, Le Vegan says.
“Every penny will go to them,” the animal activist promises.