Autistic Boy Forges Friendships With Shelter Dogs Through Reading

The weekly story time is helping both the young boy and the dogs come out of their shells.

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Thursday is reading —and bonding — day for Jacob and his shelter buddy, Pirate. Via
Thursday is reading —and bonding — day for Jacob and his shelter buddy, Pirate. Via NBC Channel 4

There is a unique bond between one boy and dog in Los Angeles County that is warming the heart of many.

Every Thursday, Jacob, a 6-year-old boy with autism, makes the trip from La Habra, California, to the Carson Animal Shelter in nearby Gardena. And as NBC Channel 4 reports, the young boy lays down a small mat outside the cage of Pirate the Pit Bull, then sits down and reads to the dog.

“He likes it … that makes dogs friendly,” Jacob explained to the news station.

For the past year, Jacob shows up at the shelter with mat to sit on and a book to read to the animals. Via NBC Channel 4

For the past year, Jacob shows up at the shelter with mat to sit on and a book to read to the animals. Via NBC Channel 4

According to Jacob’s mom, Katherine Tumalan, she and her husband first learned their son was autistic when he was about 2 years old, and they worried about his lack of progress and lose of all verbal skills until about a year ago. It was then that Jacob’s aunt, Lisa Ferranti, took him to the shelter.

Ferranti reportedly immediately noticed the special bond Jacob had with the sheltered animals.

“Jacob is so calming,” Ferranti told NBC Channel 4. “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.”

The friendship that Jacob has forged with Pirate is something his mother and aunt say has created a change for both. Reportedly, the young boy is now reading at a third-grade level, and Pirate is on his way to stay with a rescue worker for training so he can find his own fur-ever family.

Both Jacob's mom and aunt say the reading experience has helped both dog and boy. Via NBC Channel 4

Both Jacob’s mom and aunt say the reading experience has helped both dog and boy. Via NBC Channel 4

Jacob says dogs like Pirate just need a little extra love and believes their special story time seems to help while they wait to find a forever home.

“If I read to the dogs, they will come out of their cages and find homes,” Jacob told the NBC affiliate.

He added that shelter dogs need the extra love — like his reading time with Pirate — to help ease their wait for a home.

“They have to find new homes because they are alone,” he said.

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