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Program where kids read to shelter pets has benefits for readers, and listeners, too

Students at Old Fort Elementary have gone to the dogs...and the cats...in hopes of improving their reading skills. (Photo credit: WLOS staff)

Students at Old Fort Elementary have gone to the dogs...and the cats...in hopes of improving their reading skills.

You might have heard about animals visiting schools to help students with their work. Well in this case, the kids take their talents to the dogs and cats.

The first- and second-graders are visiting the McDowell County Animal Shelter, participating in a 6-week program designed to boost their reading skills.

Reading to the dogs and cats increases the kids' confidence, and the animals benefit, too.

"They also present better in their cages in the back, whenever we do have to take them back there, because they're like, 'Oh, I see people all the time now, cause I work with kids. You know, I can relax whenever these people walk by,' and it really increases their adoption chances," said Kaitlin Settlemyre, the shelter's manager.

"Well, I like dogs, and I like reading, so it helps me learn how to read," said Grayson, one of the students.

And of course after reading time, there' s plenty of playtime.

The McDowell Animal Welfare Alliance is trying to get more schools involved in the program .

If you would like to make a donation, foster an animal, or volunteer, contact the McDowell County Animal Shelter at 828-652-6643.

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