LOS ANGELES — A six-year-old boy spends every Thursday reading to the dogs at the Carson Animal Shelter in Los Angeles County. He hopes to find them a little comfort, one story at a time.
Jacob Tumalan is a young boy living with Autism. Although he was diagnosed at the age of two, Jacob’s mother says that he’s always loved books. He loved them so much that it was the only thing he seemed interested in.
“I noticed things were different,” Katherine Tumalan, Jacob’s mother, told NBC Los Angeles. “He didn’t want to play with other children. It was really hard knowing something was different and your child’s going to have this all his life.”
It wasn’t until a year ago that Jacob made huge progress.
It began when Jacob’s aunt, Lisa Ferranti, brought him to an animal shelter. She immediately noticed a special bond he shared with the animals.
Since that day, Jacob has been bringing his mat and a book to the shelter every Thursday. He sets up his mat in front of a cage and starts to read.
“If I read to the dogs they will come out of their cages and find homes,” Jacob told NBC Los Anageles. “They have to find new homes because they are alone.”
Recently, Jacob has been drawn to a Pit Bull mix named Pirate. Pirate arrived at the Carson Animal Shelter several weeks ago after he had a fight with a cat. When Jacob learned of the cat, the first book he read to Pirate was about a cat with colorful shoes.
Not only has Jacob helped socializing some of the dogs, the dogs have helped him in return.
“I think it helps socialize the dogs with children, and at the same time helped Jake socialize with animals more,” Ferranti told NBC.
Not only has Jacob come out of his shell, he now reads at a third-grade level. Practice makes perfect.
Even though Pirate is now being fostered by a rescue worker who is giving him extra training to help him find his forever family, Jacob is still welcome to come back to the animal shelter and work with the dogs.