Kids are learning to read and dogs are learning to trust humans through a mutually beneficial program at a Missouri animal shelter.
The Shelter Buddies reading program organized by the Humane Society of Missouri allows kids to practice reading out loud in front of a friendly audience.
The kids, ages 6 through 15, can bring their own books or select one from the shelter’s library. They sit in front of the glass of a dog’s kennel as the read.
"We started this for two reasons," JoEllyn Klepacki, the assistant director of education at the Missouri Humane Society, told ABC News Thursday. "Dogs in a shelter environment exhibit a lot of signs of anxiety and show stress signals, so we wanted to do something to comfort them, and we have a lot of children in our area who are really engaged and they ask, 'How can I help? How can I make a difference?'"
"Today" reported that the children are taught how to approach the dogs in monthly training sessions for volunteers.
Children are taught to read to the dogs in quiet voices and sit sideways.
They are shown a slideshow to recognize a dog's body language.
"These dogs, if you had seen them before the kids sat down, these were the dogs who would stay at the back of their kennel, scared,” Klepacki said. “The goal is to get the dog to come to the front of the kennel by the time they finish their book, or a few books.”
Klepacki said dogs who approach the front of the kennel get adopted more quickly, so the program helps the dogs get adopted as well.
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