Every Tuesday and Thursday, animal lovers between the ages of 5 and older come to Humane Society of Tampa Bay's (HSTB) campus to read books to shelter cats and dogs as part of their Paws for Literacy program. The after-school initiative has proven to be a success as it’s brought the community and shelter pets together for almost 7 years now.
“It’s meant for kids who need to practice their reading skills or get more comfortable reading out loud,” Maria Matlack, director of marketing at HSTB, said. “And for the animals to get more comfortable — especially if they're a little bit shy around people.”
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Both kids and parents are welcome to bring their own books or choose one of HSTB’s animal tales, grab a stool and head to either the dog kennels or cat rooms to read and pass out treats to the shelter pets. Not only does this quality time help the dogs feel comfortable around people (especially young kids), but it teaches the students to be compassionate pet lovers while strengthening their reading skills.
“The kids feel really good about themselves afterward,” Maria said. “It definitely helps the animals get more accustomed to people and just helps with the animal-human bond.”
HSTB is currently maintaining CDC guidelines and asks that all visitors wear masks to protect the staff and fellow bookworms during this time. To learn more about Paws for Literacy and the impactful work our shelter partner does, read our article.
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Photo by Humane Society of Tampa Bay