HSMO program gives young readers a chance to read to shelter dogs

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ST. LOUIS – It’s a simple idea but one that’s producing incredible results – kids read their favorite holiday stories to shelter dogs.

“It’s good for kids because it gives them a chance to practice reading skills with a non-judgmental audience and it’s reconditioning dogs to come to the kennel front and that helps them get adopted more quickly,” said Joeellyn Klepacki, director of education at the Humane Society of Missouri.

Since the inception of the Shelter Buddies Reading Program in January 2016, the HSMO has trained more than 3,200 young readers in the program. And those readers have spent over 6,000 hours reading and comforting shelter animals.

“Once you see it, when you see the animals make a connection with the kids, there’s nothing like it. Pure magic,” Klepacki said.

The kids are trained in the shelter programs to read a dog’s body language to best connect with them. And they’re helping the dogs.

“They’re reducing the average length of stay in shelters and it’s making a big difference for us and our pets,” Klepacki said. “Sometimes they go from hiding their head in the back corner of the kennel to inching forward to get closer to the child.”

Dogs like 6-month-old Nova will be participating in the program. And the dogs are doing wonders for the kids.

“This gives kids a chance to connect with animals—homeless animals—and see the difference they’re making in their lives so it increases their self-confidence,” Klepacki said.

Thursday’s event is booked up but you can still sign kids up for the program at HSMO.org.

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