Reading has gone to the dogs (and cats) with Rescue Readers

Friday, July 5, 2019
Enjoying a recent Saturday afternoon in the shade, Ella Tischer (center) of Greencastle reads to a dog as part of the Rescue Readers program at the Putnam County Animal Shelter while sisters Josie (second from right) and Liza also listen. Erin Gibbons (left) coordinates the program for the Humane Society of Putnam County.
Banner Graphic/Joe Fields

Reading can bring many worlds together. Reading to animals, though, can bring joy, inspiration and the possibility of a forever home.

The Putnam County Humane Society hosts a reading program in which children are able to read to dogs and cats at the animal shelter.

Erin Gibbons has been facilitating the Rescue Readers Program at the Putnam County Humane Society in the hopes of helping animals at the shelter become more adoptable.

Maddox Gibbons reads to a cat awaiting adoption at the Putnam County Animal Shelter. The Rescue Readers program is a way to give shelter animals some attention and to prepare them for adoption.
Banner Graphic/Joe Fields

“This exposure to the animals that are brought here helps kids get more comfortable around the animals,” Gibbons says. “This not only gets kids reading, but also helps the animals’ chances of being adopted.”

The reading program brings not only children of all ages to the shelter, but it brings families there as well to bring awareness that the shelter is there and the children are helping the animals as well.

“Reading to the animals here calms their nerves, relaxes them and takes them out of that shelter environment for a moment,” Gibbons said. “They [cats and dogs at the shelter] get that one-on-one attention and extra affection from the children as well.

The Rescue Readers Program runs mainly during the summer months when kids are not in school. Though the program is only two years old, Gibbons is looking to continuing the program in the fall on Saturdays.

“Having the program running allows us to remind people that we are here,” Gibbons said. “It’s important to a lot of these animals who come from neglected environments to learn trust, kindness and tolerance again by being around children of all ages.”

Participants recently read many different stories ranging from toddler-aged stories to classics. For children who have not been around animals or may be uncomfortable around animals, reading teaches them kindness, patience and compassion.

When asked about the program, participants Ella and Josie Tischer of Greencastle said they liked the animal shelter for taking care of these animals until they find their forever homes.

“The animals may be scared or nervous at first, but when they [the volunteers and coordinators at the shelter] play with them and take care of them, it allows the animals to become familiar with people here and get comfortable,” eight-year-old Josie said.

“Reading to the animals is a lot of fun plus you get to pet and play with them and that is the best part,” 10-year-old Ella said.

Even the youngest of the Tischer girls, three-year-old Liza, read “Aladdin” to a dog named Saddie, who gently and happily sat as words coming from the mouths of young readers gave them hope that someone will adopt and love them in a forever home.

Anyone wishing to take part in the Saturday program may sign up and schedule a time by calling the Putnam County Animal Shelter at 653-1943.

Respond to this story

Posting a comment requires free registration: