MEMPHIS, Tenn. — Children in Memphis, Tennessee, are opening their books at Memphis Animal Services, allowing abandoned dogs to open their hearts.
The weekly program was started by Memphis Pets Alive, an organization of volunteers who work to find homes for animals.
“It’s a great low-pressure way for the dogs to learn social skills and interact with people,” said Katie Pemberton, a spokesperson for Memphis Animal Services. “It’s been shown to be beneficial to the kids as well, especially if they’re having trouble with their reading.”
In one video posted to Facebook Feb. 14, a little girl is reading to what appears to be an empty cage. But a dog was hiding under its bed, nervous about humans.
The program aims to help dogs trust humans. Many shelter dogs have lived in stressful or dangerous environments.
“They really teach them how to do it in a way that doesn’t threaten the dogs and gives them that low-pressure interaction,” Pemberton said, describing how the kids are trained to approach the animals.
The kids read to animals from 4:30 to 7:00 p.m. Tuesdays.
“Any shelter environment is a stressful environment for dogs,” Pemberton said. “Anything you can do to reduce that stress makes them happier, helps make them more adoptable.”
Those interested in having their children volunteer may contact Memphis Pets Alive.