Our Programs

Children ages 2-18 who are able to read at any level are invited to the shelter to read to our adoptable cats and dogs in our adoption rooms. The program will help children improve their reading skills, help socialize our adoptable pets, and develop stronger human-animal bonds for both animals and people.

This program is simple. Visit the Franklin County Library and choose your book. The library will extend a certificate on behalf of Wendy’s.

Come to the shelter and read…Our adoptable cats and dogs are great listeners! Return your book to the library. Once returned, the certificate will be stamped. Collect four stamps and then enjoy a frosty treat from the Winchester Wendy’s.

Starting March 3, 2018,the Paws to Read program will be open every Saturday from 2-4 pm. Should you have a large group or club interested in participating, please call the shelter directly to set up an alternate time at 962-4472.

Recent studies performed by research teams at U.C. Davis and Tufts University reveal dog-gone great news: Children who read aloud to therapy dogs or shelter cats on a regular basis demonstrate drastic improvement in their reading skills. Animals provide a safe, non-judgmental presence for struggling readers. Sharing books with furry supporters helps children to:
• Sustain concentration and focus
• Maintain a higher level of awareness
• Improve attitudes toward school
• Increase reading comprehension and fluency
• Expand their use of vocabulary and language
• Boost confidence and pride in their reading skills
• Cultivate a higher motivation for reading and learning
• Foster positive social interactions
• Feel more comfortable about learning
• Enjoy the experience of reading

Oh, and the animals enjoy it, too!

The Paws to Read program was implemented by Animal Harbor’s Director of Development Stephanie Wilson and Robin Mays, Youth Service Director, Franklin County Library. Please contact Stephanie Wilson with any additional questions. 352-870-4830 stephanie.wilson@animalharbor.org

Coffee with Cats

Join us every Wednesday anytime between 1 and 3 pm (any or all of the time) to enjoy a cup of coffee and help socialize our adoptable cats and kittens.

For a shy or under-socialized cat, the world can be a scary place. If cats feel threatened by the world around them (even if these threats are imagined), they can quickly withdraw from social activities and spend all day hiding. What we want is for our cats/kittens to gain or regain their confidence. Working with a shy/fearful cat takes time and patience, but the experience is extremely rewarding!

Pastries with Pups

Join us at the Harbor every Friday from 3 to 5 pm (any or all of the time) and become a dog walker/socializer.


The benefits for our adoptable dogs are simple and have proven to be effective. Exercise: 

  • Keeps shelter dogs calm, happy, and content,
  • Improves behavioral, mental, emotional health and overall well being,
  • Increases socialization,
  • Increases our dogs' chances for a quicker adoption, because they are far more relaxed, happy,and calm.

We all know that spending time with a dog has benefits for us humans! Dog walking improves exercise motivation, stress control, and community spirit... just to name a few. See you at the Harbor!