Few kids are taking part in doing something truly beautiful for the dogs at an animal shelter, Humane Society of Missouri in St. Louis where an innovative new idea, called the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, has made a huge difference. What is this program? In this program young kids from ranging from ages 6 to 15 are trained (for 10 hours under supervision) to learn how to interact with the animals. Kids are taught about interactions with the dogs and to tell if their little buddy is scared or anxious.
“We wanted to help our shy and fearful dogs without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that [the volunteers] could have on them,” program director Jo Klepacki told The Dodo.
With this program, the shy dogs who were being neglected for adoption have been reported to see a huge difference. And its not only the timid dogs who are benefited by the program, but also the active high energy dogs have made improvements.
“What this is also doing is to bring the animals to the front in case potential adopters come through. They are more likely to get adopted if they are approaching and interacting, rather than hiding in the back or cowering” said Klepacki.
“Hearing a child reading can really calm those animals,” Klepacki said. “It is incredible, the response we’ve seen in these dogs.”
After the kids are done with their 10 hour training, they can come into the animal shelter any time with their parents and read to the dogs.
“It’s encouraging children to develop empathy with animals. It’s a peaceful, quiet exercise. They’re seeing fearfulness in these animals, and seeing the positive affect they can have,” said Klepacki. “It encourages them to look at things from an animals perspective. That helps them better connect with animals and people in their lives.”
[h/t The Dodo]