According to estimates by the American Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), nearly 7.6 million pets and companion animals enter into animal shelters every year. Of those, 3.9 million are dogs and 3.4 million are cats. Thanks to overcrowding, lack of resources, and poor legislature, nearly 2.7 million animals in the shelter systems end up being euthanized. A lot of these euthanized animals are ones that never got adopted due to behavioral issues.
Imagine if you were sent to a shelter after living with a loving family for many years, or worse still, after having been abused and neglected. It’s heartbreaking, and it’s no wonder that so many shelter dogs are timid or frightened. Sadly, these shy puppies aren’t popular for adoption since families prefer puppies who are calm and playful right off the bat. While any dog getting rescued from a shelter is a good thing, it is pretty sad that these scared puppies don’t get the shot they deserve.
That’s where the Humane Society of Missouri’s Shelter Buddies Reading Program comes in. This brilliant initiative trains kids aged 6-15 to pick up on a dog’s body language. If the dog appears stressed or anxious, the kids sit down with them and read to them aloud. If the dog responds positively by showing interest and calming down, they are rewarded with a treat. This helps condition them towards more desirable behavior, which leads to a greater chance of being adopted. The program also has the added benefit of letting kids practice their reading skills with a non-judgmental audience, so it’s a win-win all around. The video below shows the Shelter Buddies’ first annual “Deck the Howls” holiday event in December of 2015.