The Adorable Way Kids Are Helping Shy Shelter Dogs

Photographed by David Cortes.
Dogs rescued from lives of neglect or abuse can have a hard time accepting human love and growing accustomed to caring homes.

But one new program is pioneering an adorable approach to making animals' transitions easier.

The Humane Society of Missouri created the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, enlisting children to read to shelter dogs, The Dodo reports. The program helps the dogs get used to companionship (and gives the kids a chance to practice their reading skills, too). The volunteers, whose ages range from 6 to 15, undergo a 10-hour training program about interacting with dogs, Time reports.

The pint-sized volunteers sit in front of the dogs' kennels to read to them, so the canines won't be overwhelmed. When the pups approach the children, they get a treat. The hope is the dogs will be more comfortable interacting with people — and potential adoptive parents — in the future. Dogs who aren't as shy aren't left out of the program — The Dodo notes that more active dogs are calmed by the reading experience.

The reading program is offered once a month at the state humane society's headquarters in St. Louis, Jo Klepacki, director of the Shelter Buddies Reading Program, told The Dodo. Parents can sign their children up to participate on the Human Society of Missouri's website.

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