Children can read to critters at Coquitlam animal shelter

Children can read to critters at Coquitlam animal shelter

Family Nature Pets

New program running Sundays, beginning Jan. 5, will help kids practice reading and socialize small animals

Coquitlam Animal Shelter workers are hoping to start a Sunday reading tradition in the New Year to give cats, rabbits, guinea pigs and other small animals a dose of socialization.

Children who love animals can now read to them if they join the Rescue Readers Program, which starts Jan. 5 at the shelter located off Mariner Way in Coquitlam. As of last count, there were more than 30 small animals awaiting forever homes at the shelter.

The Rescue Readers Program running Sundays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. will give youngsters an opportunity to practice their reading skills while also providing a socialization opportunity for the small creatures.

“Both outgoing and shy animals can benefit from socialization,” explained Alison Jackson, animal care supervisor with the city of Coquitlam.

The cats are allowed to wander while the children read to them, but the other small animals will be in their cages.

The program is running in other shelters and was adopted in Coquitlam as a way to provide a volunteer opportunity for the community.

“With people asking to volunteer, we wanted to come up with a way to make it as accessible as possible,” Jackson said.

The shelter is a cozy place for kids to come. It’s a bit of a rabbit warren with small cages of animals, food and toys in every nook and cranny as well as rooms where cats roam freely.

Children will be able to choose a book or bring their own to read to the animals for about half an hour.

Those under the age of 16 must be accompanied by an adult, Jackson said, and children can register by calling 604-927-7386 or email animalshelter@coquitlam.ca

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