Brothers Christopher Merchant, 21; Connor Merchant, 18; and Jared Merchant, 15, talk about about Jared’s Eagle Scout project — building doghouses — Oct. 13 at their house in West Bloomfield. They are all in the Boy Scouts.

Brothers Christopher Merchant, 21; Connor Merchant, 18; and Jared Merchant, 15, talk about about Jared’s Eagle Scout project — building doghouses — Oct. 13 at their house in West Bloomfield. They are all in the Boy Scouts.

Photo by Donna Agusti


West Bloomfield teen builds doghouses for Warren animal nonprofit

By: Sherri Kolade | West Bloomfield Beacon | Published November 9, 2018

 Going over the doghouse plans are David Klym, 15, a friend of Jared Merchant’s, and Jim Kohut, of Novi.

Going over the doghouse plans are David Klym, 15, a friend of Jared Merchant’s, and Jim Kohut, of Novi.

Photo by Donna Agusti

WEST BLOOMFIELD/DETROIT — Walled Lake Central High School sophomore Jared Merchant, 15, is doing big things for his furry, four-legged friends.

The WLC Eagle Scout candidate from Troop 54, a West Bloomfield resident, decided on an Eagle Scout project to help build eight doghouses.

He and 30 of his friends, school sports teammates and coaches built the doghouses about a month ago and donated them to a Warren-based nonprofit animal organization.

All About Animals Rescue was scheduled to receive the eight doghouses — valued at $2,000 in total — Nov. 8 for free through Merchant’s Eagle Scout project.

All About Animals Director of Development and Marketing Catherine Garrett said that Merchant’s work means something.

“It means a lot of warmer pets for many winters to come who won’t have frostbite or freeze to death,” she said, adding that the clinic outreaches in Detroit through the Pets for Life program, and that’s where the doghouses will go.

The doghouses will be available to dogs in need in certain ZIP codes; the program also offers free spaying and neutering, wellness care, and more for animals. “These houses will literally save pets from the brutality of living outdoors,” Garrett said.

Merchant, who was out in roughly 40-degree weather that day, helped oversee the project outside despite having a medical condition: cold urticaria.

The condition translates to hives from the cold, according to his mother, Anne Merchant. There is no cure or treatment, and he begins wearing winter gear when the weather is 50 degrees.

Anne Merchant said that it is a rare disease and her son has had it since he was 3.

“He takes medication on a daily basis, and he will wear his winter protective gear. He has to wear gloves, a hat and a mask,” she said, adding that on that Eagle Scout project day, others just wore a sweatshirt and pants. “This journey has been a huge challenge for him.”

Jared Merchant said he and his group worked 9 a.m.-9 p.m. that day and then 8-11 a.m. the next day.

“It was stressful,” he said, adding that his condition can cause him to feel itchy when he faces cold temperatures. “It can be life-threatening. I can go into anaphylactic shock if it gets bad enough.”

Anne Merchant said her son was having a bit of a hard time that day, and he would stand by the fire or go in their house to warm up.

“Or take a break,” she said. “On Sunday, he spent some time having to sleep to recover from being out in the cold.”

But the cold didn’t stop Jared Merchant, who is passionate about getting dogs out of the cold, which Garrett said is an issue.

Garrett said that if Jared did not donate the doghouses, the organization might have had to purchase them — if the funds were available.

Pets for Life goes throughout Detroit, knocks on the doors of pet owners and tries to help the lives of pets.

“Sometimes we find dogs living in the backyard chained — our goal is to help those pets live better lives, and it doesn’t happen overnight,” Garrett said.

She added that it is important to get the pets out of “terrible elements.”

“Certainly there have been frozen pets, which is just horrific,” she said, adding that the doghouses that were built are an invaluable gift because they are sturdy, strong and insulated, and they will be in use for a long time.

She said that when animals no longer need the doghouses, the doghouses will be given to other dogs.

Anne Merchant said that the next phase is for her son to go before a committee, an Eagle Board of Review, more than likely next year to answer questions about how his project went. After that, he could progress to a higher level and be approved for nationals, which could result in an Eagle Scout award.

She said her son learned a lot from this project, and it was really eight projects in one.

“He’s been involved in Boy Scouts since first grade; he was 6 when he started. He was following (in) his brothers’ footsteps,” she said, adding that it’s a family affair. “I’m very lucky. I’ve got good kids. They support each other, look out for each other, and they’re friends.”

For more information on All About Animals Rescue, go to www.allaboutanimalsrescue.org.