Ventura County Animal Services’ Rescue Readers Program is a program where children ages 4-14 come to read to shelter animals. This program generally takes place on the first three (3) Sundays of the month, and the last Saturday of the month from 9:45am – 11:00am at the Camarillo Animal Shelter at 600 Aviation Drive at the Camarillo Airport. First-time readers are asked to arrive 30 minutes early for an orientation.
Rescue Readers can read to dogs, cats, rabbits, or giraffes. Children may bring books from home or select one from our cart. Those reading to dogs or cats will be sitting three (3) feet from the kennels and will enjoy undivided attention from their four-legged friends. Readers should know that dogs can bark loudly and sometimes abruptly. Oftentimes barking is a greeting and should settle down once the reading begins.
It’s a fact that animals go to the bathroom like people do. Dogs primarily utilize their outer kennel area for this purpose. Rescue Readers may see and smell this waste until shelter personnel can come by and hose it away.
Those who wish to read to rabbits can do so in the barn. Sometimes rabbits are placed in small enclosures with the Rescue Reader themselves. It’s a hopping good time!
What to bring:
- A book or select one from our cart
- A blanket or chair
- Sunscreen and water bottle on warm days
- Sweater on cool mornings
There are many benefits to children reading aloud to animals:
- No judgement. Kids can read at whatever speed they wish, and they won’t be judged for making mistakes. This can be a big confidence builder.
- Practice reading aloud. Many schools require children to read aloud as a curriculum requirement. This activity can help prepare them.
- Excellent opportunity for children to have a positive, rewarding experience with animals of different sizes and breeds.
- Parents can take pictures and post images on social media. You can tag @VCAnimalServices or @VCASrescuereaders. This could even help animals get adopted if your friends see an animal they like!
- It’s a great outdoor activity…away from screens!
- A parent/guardian must be with their child and provide undivided attention at all times.
- Readers must sit at least three (3) feet from the kennel bars.
- Readers must not put fingers near or through the kennel bars.
- No feeding of the animals unless you have approved VCAS treats or food.
Message to Parents and Guardians:
When you arrive, please park along Aviation Drive to allow priority parking in our parking lot for those with critical/urgent needs. Parents and guardians must be with their child at all times. If you bring siblings, you must be able to render attention to each child without the assistance of VCAS personnel. Parents are encouraged to take pictures. We only ask that you tag us on social media (@VCAnimalServices or @VCASrescuereaders) and note the animal’s name and/or ID# of the pet your child is reading to. This could help our pets get adopted, quicker!
If you wish for your child to participate, please send a message to our VCAS Rescue Reader program coordinators through either their Facebook or Instagram pages. Just tap/click the “send a message” button.
Rescue Readers will be cancelled during all federal holidays as well as during inclement weather events (primarily heat waves and rain). Follow and visit the Rescue Readers’ Facebook page to learn if a session has been cancelled.