BHS students reading to dogs

How reading helps dogs and people


Senior Kelly Cooke, Co-President of the BHS Humane Society, reads to Jack, a four-year-old hound mix who was at Fauquier SPCA last year.

Camille Owen, Author

The Fauquier Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, or Fauquier SPCA, is running a joint program with the Battlefield Humane Society and English Honor Society that allows Bobcats to volunteer to read to dogs. By joining either society, students can sign up to spend time at the shelter on Tuesday evenings. This helps both the student and the dogs.

According to the Animal Humane Society, reading to shelter dogs can have a calming effect on them. Dogs in shelters do not get as much attention as dogs with a permanent home get, so having people sit down and read to them helps comfort them. In an interview with The Huffington Post, Alexandra Dilley, a behavior and training specialist at the Washington Animal Rescue League, says, “The animals really benefit from [people reading to them], as it gives them a chance to sit with people for long periods of time. Some of them get very lonely being in a shelter environment and they enjoy the company.” This not only lets people read to cute dogs, but the dogs also get to interact one-on-one with humans. This interaction with humans can alleviate some of the negative symptoms of staying at a shelter until they find their forever home.

Junior Elisia Lewis, a Co-President of Battlefield’s Humane Society, says, “Reading to dogs gives them comfort and distracts them from the rest of the noises going on in their surroundings.” In the hectic system of shelters, this peaceful element goes a long way to settling the animals and making them feel loved. Lewis goes on to describe the volunteering as a win-win situation because she can “[read] to dogs while being able to do some reading homework.” For busy high school students, this is really beneficial so that they can dedicate their afternoon to a good cause while finishing up homework.

Another benefit of reading to dogs is that the animals in the shelters get more exposure, heightening the chances that they will be adopted. Jo Klepacki, the program director of the Humane Society of Missouri told The Dodo, a web publication dedicated to news about animals, that her shelter hosts reading to dogs because they “want to help our shy and fearful dog without forcing physical interaction with them to see the positive effect that could have on them.” This prepares anxious dogs for adoption and people visiting the shelter spread the word about what adorable dogs they saw. If people hear about great programs at shelters, they are more likely to come and adopt animals.

Bobcats who are interested in reading to dogs can show up to Humane Society meetings on the second and fourth Wednesday of every month, or join the English Honor Society at the end of the year.


Photo creds: Photo provided by Kelly Cooke

Caption: Senior Kelly Cooke, Co-President of the BHS Humane Society, reads to Jack, a four-year-old hound mix who was at Fauquier SPCA last year.