Dogs help kids bone up on reading skills

CLEARWATER - The Reading Education Assistance Dogs program was started in 1999 by International Therapy Animals, an organization whose mission was "enhancing the quality of life through the human/animal bond." 
Sandi Martin, a member of the board of directors, came up with the idea for the program while exploring the possibility of using therapy animals to help children with reading problems.  The first reading session pairing children with dogs took place at a public library in Salt Lake City 14 years ago. 
Today "reading dogs" are helping children in libraries and schools across the country.  On Sept. 21, members of Paws for Friendship, Inc. brought four therapy-trained dogs to the Clearwater Main Library for 20-minute reading sessions with pre-registered youngsters.  Youth Services librarian Mercedes Perez says children have improved their reading skills by reading to the dogs who sit patiently by their side.
The program is offered at the library the third Saturday of each month from noon to 2 p.m.  Pre-registration is required.  For more information, call the Youth Services Department at 562- 4970  
( BOTTOM PHOTO -  Event 040 )
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