Shelter life can be stressful for any dog, no matter how long the stay.
The noise, lack of socialization and all the unknowns, is traumatic. Fortunately, for Carson Animal Shelter in Los Angeles, a special boy with autism is helping dogs’ stay be a little less stressful.
Every Thursday, Jacob Tukuman of La Habra, Calif. brings his mat and sits in front of a pit bull named Pirate’s cage and reads to him, along with the other dogs needing homes.
He likes it…that makes dogs friendly,” Jacob says of Pirate.
While the 6-year-old has always had a fondness for reading, he isn’t interested in other activities children enjoy.
“I noticed things were different,” Katherine Tumalan, Jacob’s mother, told NBC Los Angeles. “He didn’t want to play with other children
At the age of 2, Jacob stopped talking and was soon diagnosed with autism. His lack of progress concerned his parents, but one day everything changed.
Jacob’s aunt, Lisa Ferranti, a volunteer at Carson Animal Shelter, brought the boy with her during one of her shifts.
Jacob instantly opened up to these homeless dogs, forming a special bond with the animals in need.
“Jacob is so calming,” Ferranti told the outlet. “He walks through and he’s not yelling or banging on the cages. He comes with a book and his mat and sets it up, and the dogs just listen.”
Reading to the dogs in his weekly “Therapy Thursday” visits has helped Jacob’s reading, with his skill level now comparable to a third grader.
And Jacob believe it has helped the dogs.
“If I read to the dogs they will come out of their cages and find homes,” Jacob told NBC Los Angeles. “They have to find new because they are alone.”
As for Pirate, he is one step closer to finding his home. He has moved to foster care to develop more skills to prepare him for a new home.