Photo of boy reading to cat attracts national attention
Pet food company co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres to donate 10,000 meals
It was a quite a moment between a child and a cat. Second grader Colby Procyk started reading to cats as part of the Animal Rescue League of Berks County's "Book Buddies" program.
"This cat was walking all over him and was in love with him and he put his arm out. The cat curled up under his arm and kind of sat there as he was reading," said Colby's mother, Katie Procyk, who snapped a picture of the moment.
The ARL started the program this past summer.
"The real inspiration came from my 10-year-old son. He struggles with reading, has since he started school. He is not confident and comfortable reading around others, so I thought this would be a good opportunity for him," said Kristi Rodriguez, with the Animal Rescue League.
But the program grew to include any child who wanted to come and read.
"They are not really used to people because they were just in the wild mostly, so it is kind of actually really fun," said Colby Procyk, who participated in the "Book Buddies" program.
"The animals do not judge. That is what makes it so amazing. You can read to these animals. They are not going to judge the kids on their reading abilities. The kids feel comfortable with it and are willing to try harder," said Procyk.
Although Procyk took the picture of her son and the cat over the summer, the photo just went viral this weekend, getting millions of views on sites like reddit and buzzfeed.
It also caught the attention of Halo, a pet food company co-owned by Ellen DeGeneres. The company will donate 10,000 meals to the shelter.
The ARL has also been contacted by several other shelters around the world to implement a similar program.
"I think it is fantastic. I mean, it is great to have success at your own shelter, but to have people who want to implement it and encourage kids to read, encourage the cats to become social, that is really the main goal," said Rodriguez.