The Humane Society of Southwest Missouri is seeking young volunteers to help create a calm, friendly environment for its animals.
Reading for Rescue is one of the humane society‘s many volunteer programs. While it is geared toward children, volunteers of any age may participate.
The program gives volunteers the opportunity to read to an animal in the shelter. Children as young as 3 years old may participate. Children under the age of 15 must be supervised by a guardian.
After completing the volunteer sign-up form, available online and in person at the shelter, volunteers must attend an orientation. During this meeting, they will learn about safety protocols and expectations and get a tour of the shelter. Once volunteers have gone through orientation, they can visit the shelter any time it is open.
Reading for Rescue volunteers may choose any available animal to read to in one of the shelter’s meet and greet rooms. While only one animal can be read to at a time, volunteers can read to several during their visit, if they wish.
The shelter provides a few children’s book, but volunteers are encouraged to bring their own. Katie Newcomb, humane society marketing manager, added that children don’t necessarily have to read to the animals. Sometimes children come in and want to tell a story or sing to an animal, which is fine, too.
Newcomb described Reading for Rescue as a win-win situation for both parties. Children learn how to be around animals, while improving their reading skills, and the animals enjoy the relaxing atmosphere.
“This program has really helped us bring a new light to giving a positive voice to the animals,” Newcomb said. “We have a lot of animals that come in from situations that weren’t so good, maybe they weren’t necessarily from the most positive background. This gives those animals a second chance to start over. For this program, (the animals) are able to go into a room, see a kid and just have an all around good experience with them.”
To sign up for Reading for Rescue online, complete the appropriate volunteer sign-up forms at swh.org/volunteer-sign-up.html. For those under the age of 15, a guardian must complete a sign-up form, too. To complete a form in person, visit the shelter at 3161 W. Norton Road.
A volunteer coordinator will reach out within 5-7 business days for more information after the form is submitted. To learn about other volunteer opportunities at the human society, visit swh.org/volunteer.html.
This article originally appeared on Springfield News-Leader: Reading for Rescue: Humane society seeks volunteers to read to animals