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Casyn Tustin and Kali Edwards read to some attentive felines.

Adorable Alert: Elementary school students read aloud to curious cats and delighted dogs

BUCKHANNON – A class from Buckhannon Academy Elementary School visited the Lewis-Upshur Animal Control facility for a special event recently that was rewarding for both students and their furry friends.

Krista Sappey, Communities in Schools facilitator with Buckhannon Academy Elementary School, said the event was scheduled after students at the school logged more than 96,000 minutes reading during a recent challenge.

Jace Small reads to a curious cat.

“We were trying to do a reward for a reading challenge, so we called it, ‘Reading for a Pawpose,’ and then each class got to read for a month,” Sappey said. “The class that had the most minutes got to come up here to the animal shelter.”

The winning class recorded more than 10,000 reading minutes throughout the challenge. As part of their reward, they read aloud to an attentive group of cats and dogs at LUAC on April 12.

Sappey said she hoped the reward would motivate students and encourage some adoptions.

“My job is with Communities in Schools,” she said. “It’s a program that started last year, so I tried to get ideas about doing things within the community that our students might not get a chance to do otherwise. I was also hoping maybe we could get some adoptions out of it. We actually have another challenge and we have called it, “Hooked on Reading,” so the winner of that month gets to go out to the Wildlife Center and go fishing.”

Riley Potter and Bentley Lawrence read to an excited hound.

LUAC director Jan Cochran said she was more than happy to welcome the students to the facility.

“These dogs are so excited right now, wiggling around, and you can tell some of them really like children,” Cochran told My Buckhannon. “It’s just nice, any attention the dogs can get. We have the dog walkers that walk them, and they love that, and now they have a one-on-one child setting in front of them. The kids are petting them and reading to them — it’s great.”

This marked the first time a group has read to animals at LUAC, but Cochran said she would be happy to see more similar visits.

“We have people that come in here and ask, ‘How are they with kids?’ and we don’t know because we don’t have kids,” she said. “So unless children have been here, we can’t answer that question. We left the new animals outside because they’re just coming in today and it’s a stressful situation, and the two we have quarantined right now were kept away, but most of these dogs love it.”

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