HELENA – The Lewis and Clark Library invited kids to read to some furry friends on Saturday in Helena.

The children were able to pick a book and read to a dog or cat through the Helena chapter of the nonprofit organization, Intermountain Therapy Animals (ITA) Inc.

The Helena chapter provides animal-assisted therapy to hospitals, assisted living homes, and other facilities.

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According to ITA, animals are ideal reading companions because they can help increase relaxation and lower blood pressure, don’t judge or criticize, and allow children to read at their own pace.

The R.E.A.D. program started in 1999 and more than 4,000 therapy animal teams have been affiliated with the program.

Diane Tipton said her dog, Whiskey Rose, has been an ITA animal for three years and she has learned a lot from her dog’s patience.

ITA offers training for handlers, therapy dog training classes for all levels, and evaluation screenings among other things.

To volunteer your time with your pet, contact CJ Putotinen at (914) 523-3063 or Adele Delp at (406) 439-0373 or email pettherapyhelena@aol.com.

To learn more about the Helena chapter of ITA, visit their website.