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 Natural Awakenings Lancaster-Berks

Animal Shelter’s Book Buddies Program Goes Viral


The Animal Rescue League (ARL) of Berks County’s Book Buddies program has received worldwide attention after a photo of 7-year-old Berks County boy reading to a cat went viral. Director of Marketing Beth Ireland has been inundated with calls and emails from media outlets such as Good Morning America, Headline News Network and Reuters, and she recently received word that Halo, Purely for Pets, a pet food company co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres, will be donating 10,000 meals to the shelter. Shelters from across North America have also contacted ARL for information about starting their own programs.

ARL Program Coordinator Kristi Rodriguez implemented the Book Buddies Program after she brought her 10-year-old son, who struggled with reading at school, to the shelter to read to the cats. “Sean loved it so much, he asked to come back,” she relates. The program officially began in August 2013, and since then, Sean has shown remarkable improvement in his reading.

Participants not only get to interact with the adoptable cats, but can also earn prizes, which encourages them to read more. Ticket redemption is available for kids in grades one through eight, but people of all ages are invited to spend time with the League’s cats.

Location: 58 Kennel Rd., Birdsboro. For more information, call 610-373-8830 or visit

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