Kids, pets gather for event

Published 11:59 am Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Ellie Anderson, 9, sits on a multicolored towel specially placed for her and other kids.

Pulling out a picture book about dinosaurs, she starts to read while Rebel, a lab mix, gently shuffles to the edge of the cage.

Families and approximately 15 pets gathered to read stories and enjoy a morning away from the heat during the weekly Fairy Tails and Fur program, held every Friday during the summer at the Lunenburg County Animal Shelter.

The program was a volunteer joint effort by friends Animal Control Officer Ray Elliott and Kenbridge Elementary School Special Education teacher Sarah Aubel.

Aubel said she was inspired to take on the Fairy Tails and Fur program last summer after seeing a similar event on social media. She approached Elliott about the idea, and he agreed it would be a great fit

to have in the shelter.

“He and (Noyse) King work really hard to make it successful,” Aubel said about the program.

“We were talking one day and she came up with the idea about getting elementary school kids to come by and start reading to the pets,” Elliott said, noting that the program has helped kids become more confident after reading to the pets. “That will hopefully bring awareness to the animals’ issues that is in our county…as well as helping the kids with their reading.”

Elliott noted the benefits of the event, for both the kids and the pets.

“It’s a win win for both groups,” Elliott said about the event. “The kids get to come by and interact with the dogs, and the dogs get some time with the kids”

New Kenbridge Elementary School and Victoria Elementary School Principals Lucy Hall and Casey Jackson, respectively, participated in the event Friday, handing out popsicles and helping kids read to the dogs.

Aubel said the Fairy tails and Fur program is community-sponsored, meaning it is not directly affiliated with the Lunenburg Animal Shelter or Kenbridge Elementary School. She said volunteers from all over the community come by to help.

Aubel said when the kids approach the dogs to read to them, she said the dogs calm down immediately.

“They love the attention,” Aubel said about the pets in the shelter. “The kids love it.”

Some kids, she said, are not yet old enough to read, but will describe the story’s pictures to the pets.

Aubel brings a collection of story books meant for beginning to more experienced readers, and some kids even bring their own books. She said some kids and their families try to make it every week.

Twice a month from 11-11:30 a.m., Aubel said the members of the Apex Day Support Services based in Charlotte County also come to visit the pets and read to them. Apex supports adults with intellectual disabilities. Members and leadership of Apex took part in the event Friday.

Aubel said starting this year, area libraries have also gotten involved, bringing coloring books, giveaways and other activities for the kids to enjoy.

Gabrielle Aubel, a student at Central High School and Aubel’s daughter, said she comes weekly to help Aubel with the program.

She said she comes to help her mom, but noted how much she enjoys the event and how much the pets and kids benefit.

“But I would do it anyway,” Gabrielle said. “It’s great. The dogs love it.”

She noted last year some of the dogs would be so excited to have the kids read to them that they would stretch out their paws below the cage. “You just want to take them all home.”

Aubel said there will be an ice cream social at Lunenburg Animal Hospital on July 28 from 11-11:30 a.m. During the event, kids will have ice cream and learn how dog and cat health and the best way to take care of pets.

“What is better than animals and kids?” Aubel said. “Nothing.”