Blog

Subscribe

Get the ASPCA Professional Blog direct to your inbox.

Recent Comments

the majority of the landlords I have seen have issues with cats (not dogs). cats are portrayed as evil......

By Payje McGonigle on Getting Ahead of the Trend - 5/24/2016 at 8:22am

In our apartment complex there is one pet owner who allows her small dog to go to the bathroom right on...

By Kelly Cunningham on Getting Ahead of the Trend - 5/24/2016 at 8:07am

Hi Michele, great question. Most photo editing programs and apps will allow you to add text to photos,...

By elyse.orecchio@aspca.org on Tip of the Week: What to Include On Adoption Photos - 5/23/2016 at 6:38am

Tip of the Week: Invite Kids to Read to Shelter Animals

Let kids come read to the cats and dogs in your care for this win-win-win scenario:

  • The animals will learn social skills that can help them get adopted
  • The children will improve literacy skills while learning compassion for furry friends
  • Your shelter will strengthen relationships in the community

Photo: Humane Society of Missouri

 

These past few years, we’ve been observing with great excitement as more shelters have hopped on board the “kids reading to animals” bandwagon. In some cases, kids are allowed into kennels and cat rooms to share a cuddle with animals as they read, and in others, they read from outside the cage door. In all cases, mega enrichment and bonding occurs!

As a bonus, we’ve been watching these programs do well on social networks and with the media—because when are cute kids and animals ever not a hit?

Think a program like this would work for your community? Here are resources to help get you started:

Read and Relax program for dogs

Book Buddies program for cats

 

How do you engage young animal lovers? Leave a comment and let us know.

 

Photo, right: Humane Society of Southern Wisconsin

 

Related Links

Cats, Kids, Reading = Enrichment, Adoptions, Compassion

Read and Relax program for dogs

You Might Also Like

Saving Lives Behavior & Enrichment

Comments

Comment

What a great idea. This should be done at all shelter and all school children regardless of age should be allowed to participate!

Comment

I wonder if public libraries could set up a reading program with the shelter?

Comment

I'm a therapy dog team with Austin Dog Alliance and Austin Dog Alliance started a program called Bow Wow Reading dogs where kids read to our therapy dogs. We are in most public libraries in and around Austin!

Comment

This is very possible. The Placerville library (near us) has "PAWS for Reading" every other week. This event brings service dogs (some in training) to the library where children read to them. My son has gone several times. I'm sure that if public libraries could do this with service dogs, they could work with local shelters to do the same.

Comment

I can't imagine it would be quiet enough for this. Shelters have dogs barking constantly. Love the idea...I'd have to see it to believe it.

Comment

I did it with a 4th grade class last year at a local animal shelter. It was great! The shelter let the students go into the cat rooms. They also opened one of the dog rooms to students. Everyone enjoyed it.

Comment

The dogs calm down when the children read to them. Initially the staff chooses calmer, quieter dogs.

Comment

we do it at the Humane Society for Greater Savannah. We actually have little areas in and around the shelter away from the kennels so that it is a nice quite and calm environment.

Comment

I'd like to do this at the shelter I work at... what was your process of moving animals away from the kennels and the process of children coming to read? Did they schedule times to come, was it through a school program, etc.? I'd love to hear the details! (:

Comment

Thanks for your interest, Lindsay! Please refer to the links in the article, where we detail a couple of specific programs!

Best,
Elyse
ASPCApro Blog Team

Comment

My thoughts exactly. I'd love to do this at the shelter I work at in TN. In the picture it looks like they have closed in kennels... ours kennels have spaces in the doors big enough for someone to pet the nose of an animal. It can be so loud on the adoption floor depending on how many animals there are... wondering how this would be feasible.

Comment

This is a terrific idea. Dogs would just love the company! Kids would love to have a dog as an audience, who doesn't care if they miss a word or two!

Comment

We are interested! My children are in second grade & fourth grade. We love animals! We live in NYC.

Comment

Wonderful,brilliant idea.

Comment

I absolutely love his program we have two locations in our town and to s of kids who could benefit from learning about NOT TO RECYCLE animals!

Comment

We have the Nuzzle Buddy program at the Humane Society for Greater Savannah. It's an amazing programs. The kids get so much out of it and improve their reading skills and the pups and cats get love and attention that they so need. it's an amazing program.

Comment

What an wonderful idea. How calming and lovely for both the animal to have some company and to help teach compassion and care to the child...never mind the reading skills.x

Comment

What an amazing idea.. excellent

Comment

I find this very sad with look at this photograph, it's almost like taunting an animal that relys on physical interaction. Why do they have to keep the division up between the children and the dogs... that is a cruel psychological game for both.

Comment

CC,

Many shelters already have “active programs” with dog walkers and enrichment where the person is inside the kennel. This can be very stimulating for dogs. This picture shows some of the other important skills that dogs can learn, such as settling when people are near, rather than barking and jumping on the glass. Some shelters do allow children in with some dogs or puppies, it depends on the safety for all involved and the level of supervision provided.

Heather Mohan-Gibbons, MS, RVT, CBCC-KA, ACAAB
Director, Applied Research & Behavior Research and Development
ASPCA

Comment

So completely adorable all around!

Comment

There are some great nonprofits that do this work. For example, check out Sit, Stay, Read in Chicago!

Comment

I'm not sure that this is such a great idea from this standpoint: down here most of our shelters are pretty high-kill - what are you going to tell the kids when the animals they read to last week are put down this week? Lie to them about where they went? Tell them what the dates on the cages mean? Tell them what is going to happen to that room full of 50 kittens? It looks all warm and fuzzy on the surface but I know my kids would be asking those questions. I can hardly stand to go in mine for those reasons.

Comment

Thanks for the thoughts, Barbara. No doubt not every program or activity that works in one shelter or rescue will work in every other. Just the same, lots of organizations around the country have found this particular effort to be a great fit - benefitting both their animals and the people in their communities. Still, even in shelters where euthanasia is fairly rare, the concern you raise isn't without merit; and the decisions about if and how to talk with young readers about those circumstances should always rest with their parent or guardian (perhaps in partnership with shelter or rescue staff). The efforts and programs we aim to share and highlight here on ASPCApro.org are intended to help organizations - and the people who work and volunteer at them - to explore and implement practices that improve the lives of animals while bringing even more people and pets together. Though this program might not work everywhere, the enthusiasm and reports of success we've received when discussing efforts that bring young readers and pets together lead us to believe it's worth considering, even if it means deciding it might not be the right fit for your organization.

B.J. Rogers, CAWA
Vice President, ProLearning
ASPCA

Comment

What a perfect idea! Another way to teach kids about kindness & giving. Animal rescues are among the top charities kids choose to share their birthday gifts with through www.kidscangivetoo.com and this would be the perfect way to bring their check presentations full circle!

Comment

In South Carolina there are many programs that bring the animals TO THE STUDENTS on a one to one basis and in their own schools. (The national program of BARK is only one example, e.g., the Oconee County program in libraries and schools is very active.

Comment

A great initiative. In particular, one that can unlock boys' reluctance to read.

Comment

What a wonderful idea, on so many levels, for the animals and the students too, I love it.

Comment

This is a wonderful program on so many levels! I'm wondering what books are read?
Thank you!

Comment

I spent a week at The Best Friends Santuary on Utah. I was told to pick a book to read to a group of dogs, as I started reading all the dogs came to front of their cages and laid down and looked at me There was compete silence other than my reading out loud, it was the most amazing thing that I have experienced!!

Comment

What a wonderful blog, Ashley! Thank you for sharing! We'd love to post it on our Facebook page. The photos are gorgeous!

Best,
Elyse
ASPCApro Blog Team

Add a comment