Santa Clarita Valley students partnered with Los Angeles County Animal Care and Control this week in an attempt to enrich the lives of local shelter animals and promote literacy.
Students from Castaic Middle School’s Kids Loving Animals Within Shelters, or KLAWS club, joined West Ranch High School students, shelter volunteers and parents at the Los Angeles County Castaic Animal Care Center for the third annual “Bark for Books” program, which featured a donation drive and the opportunity for children to read their favorite books to the animals who are awaiting adoption or are displaced from the recent fires.
Organized by KLAWS adviser Nicole Price with the assistance of the shelter and her peers, dozens of students brought blankets, food and a few of their favorite books to the center Monday as they sought to uplift their newfound friends’ spirits with treats and stories.
“Dr. Seuss,” “Dog Man” and “Mr. Popper’s Penguins” were but a few of the literary classics that were shared with the adoptable kittens and puppies at the shelter.
Sixth-grader William Haase read a Husky — who wasn’t named yet — a comic book, “because it’s what I like to read when I’m scared,” he said, adding that he’d prefer to read at the shelter rather than in class or at school.
Others students would wow the animals and shelter staff with musical instruments, while the dogs showed their admiration with enthusiastic barks, tricks and puppy eyes.
While some children were tempted to take an animal home with them, West Ranch teacher Karen Cirricione said the program’s objective is to simply spread compassion among the children and animals.
“It was a way to bridge the gap between education, children and rescue animals,” Cirricione said. “Honestly, the social communication between all of the students and the animals is great,” because it allows the children to read without being judged or critiqued.
“There’s also the advantage for the animals — who become better socially,” Cirricione added. “The results have been pure magic.”