An animal shelter located in Missouri recently launched an educational program, which invites and encourages children to read to rescued animals. The Humane Society of Missouri believes that the program is going to help the animals waiting to be adopted become more comfortable with future adopters.
The Shelter Buddies Reading Program is aimed at kids between the age of 6 and 15, and it pairs interested children with fearful and shy dogs in order to help them prepare for life in their new home. After they complete a 10-hour training that teaches them the body language of animals, the children can sit in front of a shy dog’s kennel and read them from a book. This simple gesture from young volunteers can go a long way.
“We wanted to help our shy and fearful dog without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them,” says the program director Jo Klepacki. “Ideally that shy and fearful dog will approach and show interest. If so, the kids reenforce that behavior by tossing them a treat. What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through,” he continues.
The Shelter Buddies Reading Program doesn’t only benefit younger kids, who can improve their reading skills, and shy dogs, but high-energy dogs as well. “Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals,” says Klepacki. “It is incredible, the response we’ve seen in these dogs.”
Although the program has been around for not too long, Lepacki claims it already proved to be successful in helping dogs find a new home. We hope more dog shelters around the world take notice of this beautiful idea and create similar programs.