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A tall tail? At an animal shelter in Ventura County, kids come to read books to the animals

Rescue Readers is a program where children and young people read to animals housed at Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
Rescue Readers is a program where children and young people read to animals housed at Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo

Animal shelters can be stressful places for the cats, dogs and other animals who are there waiting to be rehomed.

8-year-old Isiah Mazariego is reading Harry Potter out loud at the Ventura County Animal Shelter in Camarillo. He’s one of the Rescue readers who volunteer here. As he shares the story of the boy wizard and his friends, the dogs do seem to calm down and listen to his voice.

"My son loves to read and he's been wanting to read to the animals. He knows that they don't have homes. We have a dog at home and he feels that he really wants to contribute and make the day special for these dogs," said his mom Tamika.

She says the dogs seem to "really enjoy" being read to.

The Rescue Readers are reading to the dogs on a Sunday morning
Caroline Feraday
/
KCLU
The Rescue Readers are reading to the dogs on a Sunday morning

Volunteer Judi Balisciano agrees. She set up the program and says it’s not just the animals who benefit - it’s also great for the children who come here to read.

"We just thought it would be something special. We invite the kids to come so they come on almost every Sunday. We're only doing three Sundays a month now and then we're also doing one Monday a month after school so the kids can come. They read to the dogs. They read to the cats and especially to the bunnies. The kids get to sit inside with the bunnies and read to them so they actually have hands on with the bunnies," said Balisciano.

"The biggest thing for us is that we want the dogs to be made more adoptable. That's the focus. And with the kids learning how to read, they can do that at the same time. So it's a win win. It's win win for everybody to be able to do it. We do have a junior high student so she can get service credits for this as well," she said.

Another of the Rescue Readers today, Alice Olcovich chooses a dog to read to. She loves the huskies and takes a piece of carpet to sit on in front of one of the kennels. Her mom Jennifer says it's win win for her daughter and the dogs.

"My daughter loves dogs, so anything that has dogs, she'd love to do," she said.

"It's nice for the dogs...and it helps the dogs get used to being around kids and helps them be more adoptable. She has a willing audience and she loves being around them and it makes her happy and it makes them happy. So it's a win win," she said.

It’s a chance for these hounds to hear a story from front to…bark!

Caroline joined KCLU in October 2020. She won LA Press Club's Audio Journalist of the Year Award in 2022 and 2023.

Since joining the station she's won 7 Golden Mike Awards, 4 Los Angeles Press Club Awards and 2 National Arts & Entertainment Awards.

She started her broadcasting career in the UK, in both radio and television for BBC News, 95.8 Capital FM and Sky News and was awarded the Prince Philip Medal for her services to radio and journalism in 2007.

She has lived in California for ten years and is both an American and British citizen - and a very proud mom to her daughter, Elsie.