HSSA program gets pets out of their shells while strengthens reading skills for children

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Published: Sep. 18, 2021 at 10:54 PM MST
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TUCSON, Ariz. (KOLD News 13) - After taking a pause due to the pandemic, the Humane Society of Southern Arizona is bringing back a special program to help encourage behaviors in dogs that will make them more adoptable.

Shelters across the country are experiencing a high intake of animals, and this program is just one way pets in southern Arizona are finding their forever homes.

The Paws and Pages Literacy Program invites children to read to pets who are shy or have behavior or health issues. The program encourages the pets to approach the front of their kennels while the kids read to them. Experts say this kind of behavior will help attract potential adopters.

“Having those kids come in and read to those pets who don’t get a lot of socialization or who need he socialization, really helps the pets,” said the HSSA’s Camille Hall. “There’s no forced contact, so they feel really comfortable being themselves, warming up to people. It also gives the kids an opportunity to read out loud to ears that aren’t going to judge them.”

According to the ASPCA, fearful and shy pets will become comfortable with kids reading to them because it doesn’t force them to interact until they’re ready.

“When I got close to it, it stopped barking a lot. It just barked a little bit. I think it’s getting used to me,” said Jonathon, one of the kids participating.

Paws and Pages also helps kids ages 5 to 14 years old get used to reading out loud.

“That’s the main reason I brought my six-year-old,” said Lori Macazani. “She’s still learning to read, so I’m hoping it will give her a little bit more confidence in reading.”

The program is back and busier than ever.

More than 20 kids registered for September’s program. That’s the most since the program began, but it hasn’t been easy to keep it going during the pandemic.

”It has been difficult, especially with programs too,” Hall said. “We want to keep going into schools and running our education programs, but we want to do that as safely as possible.”

Right now, Paws and Pages will continue through June 2022.

The HSSA plans to run the program every month, but spots fill up fast.

You can find more information HERE.

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