6-Year-Old Boy With Autism Brightens Dog's Days With Story Time

"If I read to the dogs they will come out of their cages and find homes," Jacob said.

For the abandoned dogs at Carson Animal Shelter in Los Angeles County, every day is an agonizing wait for somebody to come and take them home.

But a 6-year-old boy with autism is looking to brighten their days one story at a time.

Every Thursday, Jacob from La Habra brings his little mat and sits down in front of Pirate the pit bull's cage to read to him.

"He likes it...that makes dogs friendly," Jacob said.

Jacob's mother says her son has loved books ever since he was a baby, but it seemed to be one of the only things he was interested in.

"I noticed things were different," said Katherine Tumalan, Jacob's mother. "He didn't want to play with other children."

His parents learned he had autism around age 2 when he seemed to lose all verbal skills.


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"It was really hard knowing something was different and your child's going to have this all his life," Tumalan said.

Jacob's parents worried about his lack of progress, until one day about a year ago, his aunt Lisa Ferranti brought him to the shelter.

Ferranti, an animal rescue worker, instantly noticed the special bond he had with the animals.

"Jacob is so calming," Ferranti said. "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."

Both Tumalan and Ferranti say Jacob's friendship with Pirate is making a difference for both of them.

"I think it helps socialize the dogs with children, and at the same time helped Jake socialize with animals more," Ferranti said.

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 said. "They have to find new homes because they are alone."

Jacob's family was happy to report that he now reads at a third-grade level after all of his practice.

Pirate the pit bull also has a happy ending in sight: He'll soon be leaving the shelter to stay with a rescue worker for further training so he can find a "fur-ever" home.

For more information on the Carson Animal Shelter, visit their Facebook page here.

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