Reading with Fido is a shelter community outreach program that helps educate Orange County youth about the responsibilities of pet ownership. Reading with Fido support comes from three very active volunteers – Kim Kane, Ace Mask & Kane the Collie – who dedicate countless hours and incredible energy to working with youth at libraries and schools throughout Orange County in an effort to spread the word about the importance of caring for family pets.
While volunteering during Reading with Fido events, Kim plays interactive games with the children, helping them learn that pets have the same needs as humans do – food, water, exercise, love, grooming and more. She reads “Katy to the Rescue,” a book created by Kim and Ace, and once the story is finished, Ace and Kane the Collie are introduced. Students are able to interact with Kane, who is a registered therapy dog, and have photos taken with him.
At the end of each session, children are given a beautifully printed, glossy booklet in both English and Spanish entitled “Katy Cares,” which describes in more detail responsible pet ownership, including teaching a dog good manners and the important elements of caring for a pet. Other take-home items with a pet-care focus include comic and coloring books and OC Animal Care pencils. Materials utilized in the program are developed for various age levels, and at the end of each Reading with Fido team visit, children are eager to become better pet owners and motivated to share their new-found knowledge with others.
NEED: What community need do the volunteers address?
The Reading with Fido program is instrumental in educating the youth of our community about the importance of caring for a pet. The surplus of animals at OC Animal Care is related to poor spay/neuter practices and a failure by owners to license and microchip their pets so that lost animals can be reunited with families more quickly. By informing youth about these issues and others pertaining to responsible pet ownership, the Reading with Fido program is addressing a serious problem within our community through education and outreach.
IMPACT: What is different as a result of the volunteers' service?
Through the involvement of Reading with Fido volunteers, OC Animal Care has a direct link to the youth of Orange County, which provides an opportunity to educate thousands of young people on the importance of responsible pet ownership. Many of these children are so inspired by the program that they make a donation to OC Animal Care or collect donations within their communities to drop off at the shelter.
Ace and Kim have helped to increase the number of library locations in which OC Animal Care is invited to share the Reading with Fido program and have created several incentives for program participants, including educational give-a-ways and an opportunity for children to meet Kane, an amazing therapy dog.
INSPIRATION: What makes the volunteers' service unique/special?
Reading with Fido is an exceptional and unique program; however, Kim and Ace have taken it to the next level with the creation of two, shelter-specific books – “Katy to the Rescue” and “Katy Cares.” The books are read and presented to children attending each event. Ace authored both books, and he and Kim partnered to recruit a volunteer photographer, volunteer actors and a graphic artist to create eye-catching and professionally-produced publications.
“Katy to the Rescue” is a heartwarming story, in which children learn about Katy, a girl who comes to OC Animal Care to find her perfect forever friend. Through the story, Katy learns how animals come to the shelter and why it’s important to spay/neuter, license and microchip our pets. Once Katy takes Molly (her new dog) home, program participants learn how she cares for her pet by providing food, water, exercise and training. The culmination of the story occurs when Molly escapes her yard, but Katy is able to retrieve her thanks to the dog’s license and microchip.
The second book, “Katy Cares,” is produced in English and Spanish. This book is offered as a free take-home gift for each Reading with Fido session attendee. The book details more specific pet needs, including training, teaching good manners, feeding and interacting with other animals. Ace and Kim’s decision to use OC Animal Care as the setting for the photo book helps children to better understand what goes on at OC Animal Care as a way of preparing them for their first visit to the shelter.
Thank you and congratulations to Reading with Fido Volunteers, Kim Kane, Ace, Mask & Kane the Collie, Excellence in Volunteerism Award Winners!
Click here to find out how you can volunteer with OC Animal Care.
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