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23/06/2016, 09:00

Students read to shelter dogs to improve reading skills

The Colony Animal Shelter (TCAS) had a swarm of visitors, ages 6-12, from Lakeside Montessori Academy (LMA) on Thursday.

As part of a national effort to improve child reading skills, young students each bring a book to read to a shelter dog.  Books in hand, groups of 11 TMA summer camp students arrived at the shelter throughout the day ready to read to a canine of their choice.

TCAS Manager Mark Cooper said the students put pallets in front of each of the dogs kennel and sit down for some one-on-one reading time. There is no judgment during this time, Cooper said, which helps improve the students’ confidence.

“There have been a lot of shelters around the country doing this,” Cooper said. “It may sound kind of quirky at first, but it is proven to calm down the dogs. It also offers reading time without any pressure on the kids.”

Not only does the reading instill calmness in dogs, Cooper said it also helps make them more comfortable in social situations without physical contact.

LMA Director Puja Khandpur said in addition to reading to the dogs, the students also baked dog biscuits and brought needed items for the shelter.

“This has been an ongoing thing that they’ve been excited about,” Khandpur said. “It’s a unique opportunity to practice their reading in a fun way. I think it will be a positive experience and something that they remember.”

Khandpur said LMA called TCAS looking for a community project for its summer camp students, and it all came together. Involving the students in both education and community service would be beneficial to everyone, she said.

TCAS is beyond capacity, Cooper said, and they “are really trying to make the community aware” of the shelter’s needs. Aside from adoptions, the shelter needs dog and cat food, cat litter, various sizes of rawhide dog bones, puppy and kitten formula, baby blankets, electric heating pads and bleach.

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