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Humane Society program sees kids read books to shelter dogs

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ST. LOUIS (KTVI) – Reading holiday tales to furry friends with tails. About 40 kids spent part of their night at the Humane Society of Missouri in their favorite pajamas, reading holiday stories to shelter dogs by candlelight.

The Human Society of Missouri launched the Shelter Buddies Reading Program about a year ago in which kids spend time reading to the shelter dogs.

Inside the shelter, each dog is its own salesman; things can be stressful.

"A lot of times, dogs in a shelter environment are stressed by their surroundings. It's unfamiliar and they don’t know what's going on," said Joellyn Klepacki, Director of Education at the Humane Society of Missouri.

That’s why HSMO started its reading program, where they train kids to look for anxious dogs and then spend time readying to them.

"When a child comes in and sits down and they have calm energy and they aren’t looking at the dog, so it gives the dog the chance to check the person out and say, ‘Hey, I feel comfortable. I want to go up and approach,’" Klepacki said.

With story after story, approaching the kennel starts to becoming a positive activity for the dogs. According to Klepacki, dogs that move to the front of their kennel are more likely to get adopted.

Since they started the program 11 months ago, the average length of stay for a shelter dog has dropped by eight days.

Klepacki said kids are not only brushing up on their reading skills, but also learning empathy.

The Humane Society of Missouri is open for kids to read to dogs seven days a week.