Burbank Animal Shelter Resumes Children’s Reading Program for the First Time Since COVID-19 Outbreak

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(Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

The Burbank Animal Shelter welcomed a group of Burbank Girl Scouts to read to their animals on Thursday, July 22.

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This event marked the first return of visitors reading to animals at the shelter since the outbreak of COVID-19 in early 2020. Throughout the most severe stages of the pandemic, safety precautions forced the shelter to limit their system to allow only for appointment-only adoption inquiries. 

The visiting Girl Scouts are members of a Burbank subdivision of the Girl Scouts of Greater Los Angeles. The troop consists of two separate sections based on age, with the visitors on July 22 being aged kindergarten to second grade. The troop’s older age group had already visited the shelter and read to animals before COVID-19, and they enjoyed the experience so much that these younger troop members were likewise brought in to partake in the program.

A local girl scout reads a storybook to kittens at the Burbank Animal Shelter. (Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

“When we [visited] before, the girls just had such a wonderful time,” troop leader Jennifer Thomas said. “It’s probably been one of our more memorable experiences.”

The children read with fellow Girl Scouts and family members as the dogs and cats who inhabit the shelter experienced their first group visitation in over a year and a half. Stacie Wood-Levin, the shelter’s Senior Animal Control Officer, says that locals are beginning to stop by in contained numbers as the shelter is again allowing guests in, which makes dogs, cats, and other animals at the shelter cheerful after a long period of isolation.

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“It’s a steady flow of people that are starting to realize that we’re open again,” Wood-Levin said. “[The animals] like the attention, so they’re doing well.”

Part of the Girl Scout pledge means committing to participating in events that teach important life values. This earns each troop member their ‘petals,’ which are patches that together build a colorful flower representative of the spectrum of lessons learned by each member. The current petal the Burbank troop is working towards earning relates to being considerate and caring, which prompted the decision to gather at the shelter and show thoughtful care to animals. 

“We thought, what better way to show that than to have them come and read to the animals being caring and thoughtful…and bring awareness to them?” Thomas said.

In addition to coordinating their children’s reading program, staff members of the Burbank Animal Shelter maintain numerous other features in looking after animals in need. Among these are onsite medical services that offer spaying and neutering, and treat ailments that may otherwise prevent animals from being adopted. Members of Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter, a non-profit extension of the shelter, also host events to showcase animals and raise awareness of the importance of shelter adoption. Furthermore, outside of the shelter a pair of large crates sit for anyone who wishes to drop off a Burbank animal who the shelter can house and connect with an attentive adoptive family.

The children’s reading program at the Burbank Animal Shelter is especially vital in educating young community members on the importance of showing compassion towards animals. Providing a loving home is the ultimate goal for workers at the shelter, and informing the City of Burbank on the importance of caring for animals is another tier that helps make up their foundation of strong animal advocacy. 

A local girl scout reads a storybook “Bowie” the pitbull at the Burbank Animal Shelter. (Photo By: Edward Tovmassian)

“It’s important to start off young as far as kindness with animals, and not to wait until high school, not wait until they’re in animal rights clubs,” Wood-Levin said. “[Then kids] can teach their peers and their siblings, and even sometimes their parents [these values].” 

If anyone has an interest in bringing in a youth or adult group to visit animals at the Burbank Animal Shelter, they can contact the shelter via their email: BurbankAnimalShelter@burbankca.gov, or phone number: (818) 238-3340 

Although the Volunteers of the Burbank Animal Shelter are not planning on resuming orientations until the start of 2022, anyone interested may seek out information at http://theVBAS.org