An animal shelter has been inviting kids along to read to the shelter dogs, and the reason is so heartwarming you might need a box of tissues close by!
An educational program has been opened up The Humane Society of Missouri which will help get kids into volunteering at an early age.
The Shelter Buddies Reading Program is a volunteer program that not only allows kids to improve their reading skills and learn about animal care, it also helps rescued puppies who are anxious and fearful calm down, which increases their chances of being adopted.
Tested out at the shelter’s Kids For Critters Camp last summer, the training sessions were such a success that is now held on a year-round basis.
Program director, JoEllyn Klepacki, said: “We saw an awakening in the shelter dogs and how they really responded to the children.
“We knew that we were really onto something here.”
To become a reader to the dogs, kids must be aged between six to 15 and be able to attend 90-minute sessions. The kids will learn how to read the dogs’ body language, how to pick up common stress signals and the kids will act out a visualisation exercise which involves them closing their eyes and imagining that they are one of the dogs in the shelter. This help creates a sense of empathy and being able to put themselves in somebody else’s position.
Klepacki stated: “We’re hoping that if they can look at things from a shelter dog’s perspective, they can apply that thinking and that empathy to other animals that they might come across.”
Currently, the program is only offered at the Humane Society’s headquarters, but there are plans to open it to three other locations soon.
Klepacki believes that the positive effects of the kids visiting the shelter are already showing, as the more timid dogs are already starting to become more approachable and come to the front of their cages. Whereas the dogs with higher energy are developing calmer demeanours.
“[The program] literally has a calming effect over the whole dog wing,” Klepacki said. “Even dogs who can’t see the children who are reading, they’re listening, they’re at the cage front and their ears are perked.”
Apparently there are no numbers to back this up yet, but Klepacki has insisted it is evident that the shelter dogs are in the shelter for a much shorter duration before being adopted since this program began.
Klepacki commented: “It would be a dream come true for us if any shelter across America wanted to implement this program or something similar.
“We’re happy to share what we have with them and hope that it can help dogs everywhere.”
This isn’t the only shelter to go above and beyond in helping their animals find a loving family home. One shelter worker crocheted an adorable pair of purple ears for a stray cat with no ears!
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