FOR KIDS: A Heartwarming Dog’s Tale That Saves Lives


A Heartwarming Dog’s Tale that Saves Lives:

In the heart of winter’s icy grip, true animal-loving superheroes emerge, armed not with capes but with compassion. They are the ones who heed the call to build shelters for our four-legged friends, ensuring that no dog or cat shivers alone in the cold. This remarkable journey, as recounted by Valerie Ingram, the author of “Out of the Cold” and Director of Lakes Animal Friendship Society, reminds us that the warmth of humanity can melt even the harshest of winters, one furry life at a time.


Get ready for a heartwarming story that continues to save lives and bring them OUT OF THE COLD!   We hope it will inspire you to do the same in your community!


Who are these Lakes Animal Friendship Society Superheroes?

The Lakes Animal Friendship Society began with the idea of helping provide proper winter shelter for dogs in need. Valerie Ingram was active as a volunteer teaching animal care, compassion and bite safety in local schools.  Valerie’s friend, former police officer Hayley Nielsen delivered dog and cat food donations to families in need. Both Hayley and Valerie saw the problems with dogs, often on chains, left outdoors to shiver and try and survive the elements. In our cold northern climate where temperatures can drop to forty degrees below zero in the winter, proper shelter can mean the difference between life and death. Incidents of dogs freezing to death in the cold were too common.



One snowy December day, Valerie and Hayley ran into each other and decided “We need to build dog houses!”   The authors, and Hayley and her husband Ken got to work building dog houses—large dog houses, expensive dog houses. The first dog house used five sheets of plywood and took three people to move. We then made an A-frame design that used three sheets of plywood. It still took two people to move, and quickly exhausted our self-funded budget.  We were not sure how our donated houses would be received, and we wanted to remain anonymous. So the houses were mostly delivered in the dead of night. But we soon discovered that most folks were more than happy to get a dog house, they simply lacked the resources to provide the proper shelter for their dogs.


We also realized that we were missing an opportunity to involve the community in the solution and educate the public about the importance of shelter for outdoor animals. Indoors is best and that is the goal we are working towards, but until then we know that proper all-weather outdoor shelters are the option we must pursue.



The next phase involved collecting donated dog houses from families who no longer needed them. If the houses needed work they could be refurbished at lower cost than building from scratch. This was an excellent
theory, but in practice we picked up a lot of very large houses that required significant time and effort to transport and repair.





Hearing of our search for a good dog house solution, a friend produced a plan for a dog house made from a single sheet of plywood. We showed the plan to Dirk Hofer, the industrial arts teacher at Lakes District Secondary School in Burns Lake. We explained our dog house dreams and there was no hesitation. Dirk and his class re-worked the design to make it more durable OUT Of the COld and weatherproof, with insulation and a flap to keep the wind out. The students soon produced thirty beautiful houses, complete with the Lakes Animal Friendship logo.



With this new design in hand, we worked with other groups including carpentry classes at the College of New Caledonia to build more houses. A local elementary school teacher, Susan Russell saw the houses and offered to have her class paint them. The students collected donated paint and turned the houses into works of art!





The College classes took the project one step further by creating “flat packs”. Flat-packed houses can be more easily transported and assembled with just a screwdriver. They allow us to involve students and families in building houses for their furry family members.



The project also inspired students in the small and remote community of Granisle. The students worked with their sewing teacher Mrs. Robertson to make dog and cat blankets and beds from old jeans the community donated to the school.



To date we have built or refurbished over 250 houses for dogs and cats in need (including community cat colonies), and over 200 have been Hofer Houses. They have been built by young children to senior citizens, by aspiring carpenters and special needs students. There are hundreds of happy house recipients in our community of the Lakes District and across rural northwestern British Columbia. Our hearts were warmed by a story from a community member who delivered two houses to a family with a couple of dogs in need. When the guardian went back in the morning to check if the houses were being used, seven dogs popped out!



The concept has spread to other communities including communities in Alberta, Ontario and even Arkansas. We continue to share the Hofer House design and instructions freely on our website in the hopes that more
communities will help their local dogs and cats in need to get “out of the cold” —and heat.


Lyle Phillips’ video featuring Dirk Hofer and LAFS local students who built over 250 dog/cat shelters.


Visit Lake Friendship Animal Society website for the Hofer Dog House Plans and instructions.


Photo Credits:

Lakes Animal Friendship Society

For additional inspiration on “unchaining” dogs, visit Fences for Fido—an amazing group in Oregon.

To Order the Book “OUT OF THE COLD” – Buy Softcopy Here!

To Buy the Book (Kindle Version on Amazon) – Buy Here!

Available in:  English, Español, Français, Portuguêse, Deutsch



Calling all Superhero Parents with Animal-Loving Kids! As a special treat because we know your kids ADORE animals, we’re offering you a FREE Monthly Lesson (click here to access) for them to dive into our thrilling “ANIMALS AROUND THE WORLD” adventure.


The Pawtectors Program turns your kids into Superheroes for Animals, complete with exciting monthly missions, engaging activities, and opportunities to make a difference in the lives of companion, homeless, and wildlife animals all year long. It’s designed for kids and teens aged 5-17, and we can’t wait to welcome them to our Superhero PawSquad!


Join the Pawtector’s PawSquad today –  

Our Safe, Private, online e-learning platform –



It’s an ideal fit for individuals, homeschool families/co-ops, public/private schools, as well as animal rescue and youth programs. We invite youth of all ages and abilities to join us on this exciting learning adventure!

Follow The PawSquad on Instagram – @pawtectorsprogram

Follow The PawSquad on Facebook – @pawtectorsprogram

Watch more fun videos on our Tik Tok! – @pawtectorsprogram