Summer Reading goes to the dogs (and cats)

Photo by Kaylee Dunham Kassie Simler, 10, enjoys reading to all the animals at the Surface Creek Animal Shelter, even though she's "more of a dog person."

At Surface Creek Animal Shelter, dogs are typically brought in from their outdoor kennels for a mid-day nap. It's usually quiet time at the shelter, with an occasional stir from one of the critters. The shelter usually closes from midday. But if you happen to venture into the shelter between 11 a.m. and noon Wednesdays, you may find yourself captivated by a story.

As part of the Delta Libraries Summer Reading Program, children of all ages are welcome to visit the shelter and read to the dogs and cats.

Jacki Dapkus, volunteer secretary for the shelter's all-volunteer board, hopes that by reading to the animals and "simply hearing a gentle voice," children can help bring these shy animals out of their shell.

Not many children have participated but those who have think it is a perfect summer activity, said Dapkus. In the program's first year, one group of about five kids has come in to read several times.

The five kids are part of the Simler family. The children love the event, and so does their mom. "This is a great activity for her kids because they all are home-schooled and this gives them a chance to practice their reading and spend some time with the animals," said Tanya Simler.

In most cases the children read to the animals from outside of the cages. "Usually if we are in the hallway we are able to read to several dogs at the same time," said Dapkus. But in the cat room the goal is to get the shy cats to come out of their hiding places to be around the children.

While the program is in its first year, it will likely not be the last. "I think we're going to continue this program next year it doesn't take much preparation and it doesn't take any money," said Dapkus. "It just takes a volunteer to be here during the quiet times. This program just needs to catch on."

For more information call Jacki at 856-4611 or email

Jacki Dapkus, secretary of the Surface Creek Animal Shelter Board, has put together an event for children of all ages to come and read to the animals. The Summer Reading Program happens every Wednesday from 11-12. Here, she is reading Michael Chabon's book "The Final Solution: A Story of Detection" to Ethel. Ethel came to the shelter May 28, 2019 and loves to be read to.

Kassie Simler, 10, enjoys reading to all the animals at the Surface Creek Animal Shelter, even though she's "more of a dog person."

Rebecca Simer, age 15, and Bridgette Simler, age 13, entertain the new puppy at the Surface Creek Animal Shelter, on Wednesday, July 17 by reading a book filled with Dr. Seuss stories. The sisters love going to the shelter for the weekly Summer Reading Program and spending time with the animals.

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