Sandy Barbabella volunteers one day per week at the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, reading to dogs awaiting adoption. She has a special bond with dogs who have arrived at the shelter abused, battered, or abandoned; her work is integral to the restoration of the emotional bond between the dogs and humans.
Barbabella sits in a folding chair outside the cages of the dogs waiting for a forever home, notes The Huffington Post. She opens a children’s book and starts reading to the pooches, who seem to respond well to her soothing tone and comforting words. Story time benefits the dogs, while also helping Barbabella as she mourns the loss of her Pembroke Welsh Corgi, Angus, who passed away after 14 years together. Sandy says she enjoys reading to them, and probably gets “as much out of it as the dogs.”
The mother of four states she loves each of the dogs at the shelter equally. Sometimes she will stand with dogs in holding when they first arrive, often battered or emaciated. Reading, she says, helps the dogs heal. Barbabella teaches some of the pooches basic commands, such as “sit” and “stay,” in hopes of improving their chances of adoption.
Joy Braunstein, director of the Western Pennsylvania Humane Society, applauds volunteers such as Barbabella. As the animals adjust to more time spent with humans, volunteers can positively affect the lives of pets that may have behavioral problems caused by previously abusive situations.
Anyone interested in following Barbabella’s example can find relevant volunteer opportunities through no-kill shelters, animal rescue operations, and humane societies. Prospective volunteers with extra time on their hands can spend a few hours, or a few days a week among pets to help them find loving homes. Shelters can always use a hand bringing fun into the lives of pets as they await their forever home!
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