Town of Hempstead Supervisor Anthony J. Santino, Senior Councilwoman Dorothy Goosby, Councilman Anthony D’Esposito, local children and volunteers at the Hempstead Animal Shelter kicked off a storytelling program for dogs as a therapeutic way to transition pets from abusive situations to loving homes. The program is an initiative designed specifically to socialize victimized dogs. The Hempstead Animal Shelter will begin accepting volunteers, including students who need community service or reading credit, immediately.
“The shelter has various ways of nurturing pets that are awaiting adoption,” said Santino. “Reading or having conversations with pets who may have never heard calm, soothing voices before can help to heal some of these pets and make them more adoptable and family friendly. Anything we can do to find a “fur-ever” home for these pets is worth pursuing.”
The book chosen to kick of the program was the classic, Go Dog Go! by P.D. Eastman. Supervisor Santino and the local children took turns reading to some shelter pets.
“The hands on experience these students get, and the benefit the pets receive from this reading program, is priceless,” Senior Councilwoman Goosby said. “I hope more students participate so they too can get the warm and amazing feeling of volunteering for a good cause. It’s a win win.”
According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), reading helps pets become accustomed to new people and experiences. A soothing voice and presence can calm agitated or fearful dogs, which helps them more easily transition and eventually find homes. When dogs hear a voice that’s not threatening or nasty they are not fearful according to experts. The subject matter of the books doesn’t make a difference, at least not to the dogs.
“The more comfortable we can make these dogs around people, the more likely they are to get adopted and enjoy a great life with a loving family,” said Councilman D’Esposito.
The benefits of this program are not just for the dogs. Students who participate practice the skill of reading and enhance their reading ability. Students who are apprehensive to read aloud among their peers also gain confidence through dog reading programs. For information on how to volunteer, please contact the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter at 516-785-5220.
“I encourage anyone who loves animals and reading to grab a book and volunteer at the town’s animal shelter,” concluded Santino. “It is a great way to help dogs become more socialized, and it can be very rewarding for volunteers.”