Reading to pets: orientation and Guidelines

Why read to animals?

First off, it’s adorable. Children reading books to cats, dogs, and small animals is very cute. There’s more than just cuteness that happens though; it’s the purring kitten, the wagging tail, and the smile on a young readers face. There’s a special comfortability that the animal and the child exchanges while a reading session is occurring- the animal receives much desired one-on-one time and the child receives no judgement or correction, just listening ears and a loving furry face.  Children and animals alike are learning to love reading.

Who can I read to?

Anyone! Most cats are excellent candidates for a reading buddy. Some of our cats can be a bit grumpy about being moved, but any staff member can help move a cat for you.  Small animals are located in the small yellow room near the newer dog kennels.  Please only remove small animals from their pens with the help of a staff member. Some dogs have better attention spans than others, so pay attention to which dogs are marked “low energy.”

Where can I read? 

The biggest challenge to starting this program was finding a space for children to read. The conclusion: it’s more important to start the program now, then wait for millions of dollars of renovations later. Sometimes sharing spaces might be a good option. The cat colony is a lovely, mostly glass, sun room where many cats play and lounge.  You can sit outside or inside of dog kennels. The dogs also have pens outside, labeled “volunteer & adopter pens.”

Can I bring a friend? 

Of course! CMHS is always happy to have guests come into our doors. We do ask that groups of no larger than 3 people come in, due to limited space in reading areas. Please keep in mind that the RTP Program is designed for readers from 1st to 8th grade.  If a large group would like to come in for an activity, please contact our Volunteer Coordinator and she will gladly set it up.

What books do I read?

There is a small selection of books at CMHS.  Readers are encouraged to bring books from their school library or the Columbia Public Library.  The Central Missouri Humane Society is not responsible for any damage done to books or other reading supplies.


When can I come read?

Plase sign up for times to read in the “Reading to Pets” binder.  Times vary throughout the year. You can always call or email our volunteer coordinator to schedule a time for you.  If you’re interested in getting Volunteer hours for reading, please sign up for our Volunteer Program!

Can a RTP volunteer become a regular CMHS volunteer?

Contact our Volunteer Coordinator at [email protected]. The minimum age to Volunteer at CMHS is 8 years old with a parent.

Is there a dress code?

Please wear close-toed shoes and pants when interacting with animals.

Is there a risk?

Yes. All animals can have a bad day and some can react poorly. Please understand that any time you interact with animals, it is always at your own risk. Children are not to be left unattended at any time while at CMHS. While we do our best to provide a safe selection of animals to interact with, we do want to make it clear that interacting with any animal is done so at your own risk.  The Central Missouri Humane Society is not responsible for any damages, injuries, or situations that might occur.  Please use proper precaution when handling any animals. If at any time, anyone is bitten or injured by an animal, please notify a staff member immediately.  If you interact with an animal who you feel should not be in the program, please notify [email protected]. Please be clear about why you think the animal should be disqualified from the program.

Other Safety & Release Agreement Material:

·         I understand that because my child may handle animals, it is important to discuss the medical concerns regarding exposure to animals with my physician. I release the Central Missouri Humane Society from all responsibility that may occur because of my not pursuing this matter further and I understand whatever decision I make is at my own risk.

·         I give permission for The Central Missouri Humane Society & it’s affiliates to photograph my child for use in any Society publication, educational, or advertising purposes the Society may designate.

·         I acknowledge and understand that as a volunteer of the Central Missouri Humane Society, my child is not covered by the Central Missouri Humane Society’s workers compensation or any other insurance policy for any damages or injuries my child may sustain during volunteer activities.

·         On behalf of myself, my children, my heirs, assignees, guardians, personal and legal representatives and executors, I hereby release, discharge, indemnify and hold harmless the Central Missouri Humane Society, its officers, directors, and employees for any and all claims, demands, losses, costs, liabilities, damages, personal injuries and property damage, connected with my or my child’s volunteer services to the Central Missouri Humane Society whether caused directly or indirectly by any negligence (active or passive) attributable to the Central Missouri Humane Society, its officers, directors or employees.