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Molinaro Encourages Children to Read to Animals at DCSPCA as Part of ‘Dutchess Reads’
Program builds reading confidence in children, socializes animals waiting for homes

Published: 6/26/2018

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Colleen Pillus

Poughkeepsie … Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced the start of a new program, part of the “Dutchess Reads” initiative, in which schoolchildren are encouraged to bring their favorite book to the Dutchess County SPCA and read to animals awaiting adoption.

Accompanied by their parents, school-aged children can come to the Dutchess County SPCA, located at 636 Violet Avenue in Hyde Park, between 3 p.m. and 5 p.m. every Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and read to the animals.

County Executive Molinaro said, “Research shows when a child takes time to read to shelter animals, both the child’s reading proficiency and the animal’s socialization increase, making the child a better reader and the animal more suitable for adoption. Our ‘Dutchess Reads’ initiative strives to build stronger readers in our community, and this partnership with the Dutchess County SCPA is a great step toward helping us reach that goal. I thank the Dutchess County SPCA and its leadership for this collaboration, and I eagerly anticipate this program building proficient young readers while socializing animals in search of their forever homes.”

Legislative Chairman Gregg PUlver and DCSPCA Board of Directors President Jack Fein reading to catA 2010 study by the University of California, Davis found third-graders who read to dogs in a shelter raised their reading fluency by 12 percent, while home-schooled students who read to shelter dogs improved their reading fluency by 30 percent.

Dutchess SPCA Adoption Manager Chris Bender said, “We look forward to welcoming boys and girls to our facility to share their favorite stories with our animals who enjoy visitors and the companionship they bring. We thank Dutchess County Government for partnering with the Dutchess SPCA on this program, which will benefit both the young readers and the animals with whom they give their time.”

County Executive Molinaro introduced “Dutchess Reads” in February, during his 2018 State of the County address.

A collaboration of County Executive Molinaro, Dutchess County Clerk Brad Kendall and County Legislature Chair Gregg Pulver, “Dutchess Reads” focuses on early reading, literacy for those seeking jobs, and English as a Second Language. In partnership with local libraries and literacy advocates, Dutchess County Government is promoting reading programs and existing resources, and identifying deficiencies or barriers to literacy. “Dutchess Reads” aims to bring literacy programs proven successful, such as Literacy Connection’s “Book Buddies,” in various parts of the County to other, underserved communities and support programs offered countywide. More information, including a list of libraries throughout Dutchess County, is available online

Reading to animals is just one aspect of “Dutchess Reads,” as various other resources will be available later this year, including:

  • Through its “Born to Read” program, the Dutchess County Department of Behavioral & Community Health will provide news mothers free, bilingual board books to read with their newborns, encouraging reading;
  • Dutchess County Public Transit will have racks on each of its buses installed and filled with books for passengers to read while they travel; and 
  • Similar book swaps have been established inside the Department of Motor Vehicles and other public spaces where residents can take a book or leave a book.


The Dutchess County SPCA is a private, non-profit organization which has served animals and the community since 1871. It is a an independent non-profit organization – not a governmental agency – and does not receive funding for its operations from federal, state or local governments or national groups. Each year, the Dutchess County SPCA adopts out more than 1,600 animals to loving homes. More information is available online or by calling (845) 452-7722.