Boy with autism reads to dogs at rescue shelters

A little boy in California is developing a special bond with animal shelter dogs through stories.

Jacob Tumalan, 6, has been diagnosed with Autism, which makes it hard for him to interact normally with other people.

Every Thursday, he reads to dogs at a local animal shelter, and it seems to be helping them both.

For the abandoned dogs at the shelter, every day is an agonizing wait for somebody to come and take them home.

But every Thursday, Jacob brings his little mat and sits down in front of Pirate the pitbull’s cage and reads him a story.

Jacob believes Pirate just needs a little extra love, and their special story time seems to help.

Jacob has loved books ever since he was a baby. His parents learned he had autism at age 2, when he seemed to lost all verbal skills.

“It was really hard knowing something was different and your child’s going to have this all his life,” Katherine Tumalan, Jacob’s mother, said.

Jacob’s parents worried about his lack of progress until one day about a year ago, when his aunt, an animal rescue worker, brought him to the shelter and noticed the special bond he had with the animals.

“Jacob is so calming,” Lisa Ferranti, his aunt, said. “He walks through and he’s not yelling or banging on the cages and he comes with a book and his mat and sets it up and the dogs just listen.

“If I read to the dog, they will come out of their cages and find homes,” Jacob said.

Jacob is now reading at a third grade level.

The dog he was reading to is being trained by a rescue worker so he will be able to find a new home.