No-kill shelter in Phoenix develops reading program for dogs, cats

Volunteer Rachel Hafer reading to Turner at the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA. Ms. Hafer spends much of her free time at AAWL reading and studying with the dogs.

Volunteer Rachel Hafer reading to Turner at the Arizona Animal Welfare League & SPCA. Ms. Hafer spends much of her free time at AAWL reading and studying with the dogs.

The Arizona Animal Welfare League & Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Animals  is using reading as a tool to help animals in their shelter become happier, more socialized pets.

According to a press release, volunteers are spending time reading to dogs and cats awaiting adoption at the state’s oldest and largest no-kill shelter.

“Reading is an important socialization activity for dogs and cats,” explained Whitney Fletcher, Director of Volunteers & Special Events at AAWL & SPCA in a press release. “It helps fearful dogs and cats become more comfortable with people without forcing interaction.

It really doesn’t matter what the volunteer reads, she noted in the release, adding that college students volunteering at the shelter often read their text books to the animals.

“As you read out loud, you are focusing on something other than the animal,” she stated. “In turn, the animal grows accustomed to your presence and voice, which is calming. Dogs and cats find the rhythmic sound of a voice very comforting and soothing.”

AAWL & SPCA volunteers can either bring their own books or borrow one from the shelter’s free Little Library, according to the release.

The reading program is one of the socialization techniques the organization uses to help dogs and cats become better pets. Other programs include night walks with shelter dogs at local parks and “Doggie Coffee Dates,” in which volunteers take pups with them to local coffee shops each Saturday, according to the release. These programs helps the dogs learn to interact with strangers and become accustomed to new situations.

For more information about AAWL & SPCA, go to www.aawl.org or call 602-273-6852.

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