HEMPSTEAD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — With children back in school, it means they’ll be doing more reading.

As CBS2’s Vanessa Murdock found out, kids are more than willing to crack a book when a pet in need of some love and affection is involved.

Reading from Dr. Seuss classics the Nassau County youngsters marveled at the immediate effect their words had on their unusual audience; several dogs from the Hempstead Town Shelter.

The shelter has been enlisting student volunteers to read to stressed out shelter dogs in hopes of helping them get adopted.

They pointed to recent studies showing that reading to a dog greatly improves their health and behavior.

When the kids started reading, one-year-old Barney was still standing up. Moments later he lay completely chilled out, panting happily away.

“They were enjoying it, and they were kind of smiling, and they were relaxed,” Brendan Hernandez said.

The town said the ASPCA study also found that reading to dogs helps shy kids.

One third grader’s mother said that volunteering in the program is helping her normally reserved daughter to comfortably read aloud in public.

“Oh, she loves it. Every night she wants a book to read before she goes to sleep. It’s excellent, a great way to connect,” Aatikah Uddin said.

Shelter managers said the unique therapy proves that despite a rough background, the dogs can rebound quickly in the right environment.

“They have a loving, forgiving heart, and you just got to make the right match for your family,” Barbara Trevoloudes explained.

Most dogs inside the Hempstead shelter were abandoned or neglected. Their new reading partner said it’s the least she can do.

“They don’t like being abused, and it’s just kind of comforting for them,” Inaaya Alam said.

You can become a volunteer by signing onto the Town of Hempstead Animal Shelter website. They believe it will pay off with more people willing to adopt from the shelter.


  1. B. Rad says:

    Supervisor Santino said that this program was created by an expert? What expert would tell him to have dogs out in the sun on a day that reached 90 degrees? The dogs were stressed, pulling on the leash because all they wanted to do was go for a walk. The shelter is in fact deteriorating and this was nothing more than damage control for Santino and he used the media to do it.

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