Many animals are abandoned and living on the streets or with abusive owners who mistreat and neglect them. There are the fortunate few that are rescued and taken into shelters. These animals could stay at the shelter for an extended period with the hope of being adopted into a forever loving home.
Humane Society of Missouri has made a massive difference for the animals at the shelter. Life in the shelter can be very frightening and lonely for the animals. Some have lost trust in humans due to their abusive past.
Unfortunately, not everyone can adopt a pet as they don’t have the facilities, or for various reasons, it is not possible. Nevertheless, these kids are doing the next best thing.
An ingenious idea called the Shelter Buddies Reading Program had made a significant difference for the animals at the shelter as well as for the kids reading to them.
The kids reading to the dogs is a way to prepare the dogs for their forever loving homes. The kids, in turn, are being introduced to a sense of empathy, animal care, and improving their reading skills. In turn, it helps the rescued pups become less fearful and anxious.
This excellent program was tested at the shelter’s Kids for Critters Camp, which was a great success. The training sessions are held all year round. The animals responded well to the kids.
To become a reader, kids between the age of 6 to 15 should attend a ninety-minute training session. The kids are taught to read a dog’s body language and pick up when a dog is stressed. The kids are asked to perform visualization exercises where they close their eyes and imagine that they are one of the dogs at the shelter. They are asked what do they hear, see, smell, and how do they feel? This helps the kids look at things from a shelter dog’s perspective.
Overall it seems the program has a calming effect on the dogs. The length of the stay for the shelter dogs has also decreased. Program director JoEllyn Klepacki said they are happy to share what knowledge they have with other shelters in the hope it can help dogs everywhere.
The number of euthanized animals would be reduced if more people adopt pets instead of buying them.
By adopting, you save an animal. You are also opening up space at the shelter for other animals that need to be saved.