Reinstate All-Breed Reading to Dogs Program at Burlingame Library
  • Petitioned Patricia Harding

This petition was delivered to:

Patricia Harding
City Manager
Jim Nantell
City Council
Media and Community Relations, Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA
Scott Delucci

Reinstate All-Breed Reading to Dogs Program at Burlingame Library

    1. Stephanie Feldstein
    2. Petition by

      Stephanie Feldstein

      Ypsilanti, MI

As a certified therapy dog, Jonny Justice -- one of Michael Vick's former dogs -- participated in Paws for Tales, a reading to dogs program overseen by the Peninsula Humane Society and SPCA. But Patricia Harding, a librarian in Burlingame, Calif., banned pit bulls from coming to her library. Jonny and his human partner, Cris Cohen, hadn't participated at that library yet, but another Paws for Tales pit bull reading team was kicked out.

When Cohen pointed out to the city that this violated a California code that prohibits cities from enacting policies and programs that restrict dogs based on breed, the city conceded that the library couldn't keep its new breed discriminatory policy. Instead, they cancelled the reading program.

Reading aloud to dogs has been shown to improve children's reading skills by 12 percent, in addition to improving self-confidence and overall engagement in school. It also helps adults learning English and, in Burlingame, people with a fear of dogs used the program as a way to overcome their phobia in a safe library environment.

But Burlingame's community no longer gets any of these benefits ... all because a librarian didn't like the way some dogs look.

Tell Burlingame to reinstate a reading to dogs program at its public library, welcoming all breeds.

Photo credit: Eric Risberg

Recent signatures


    1. Reached 5,000 signatures
    2. BSL News Reports on Discrimination at the Burlingame Library

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      CA Librarian Patricia Harding spewing BREEDISM and HATE: "Clearly Patricia Harding, the city council and the Peninsula Humane Society have chosen to send the message to the community that discrimination is acceptable...let them know it is not."

    3. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Here's what Burlingame is missing out on: Pit Bulls Helping Kids Learn to Read with Love-A-Bull Therapy Program

    4. Reached 4 signatures
    5. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Therapits: Pit bulls as therapy dogs

    6. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Pit bull owners take Burlingame library to task (via San Mateo Daily Journal):

    7. Reached 3 signatures
    8. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Another CA library on how reading to dogs helps kids:

    9. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Thanks, Pawesome blog for sharing Jonny's story and the petition!

    10. Reached 2 signatures
    11. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Read more about Jonny's story on the BAD RAP blog: "When Librarians Judge Books by Their Covers"

    12. Reached 2 signatures
    13. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Please read this important note from Cris Cohen on communicating with the library:

      "Jonny and I ask that people be respectful and polite when addressing and/or posting any comments to/or about the library and its staff. While respectful disagreement is positive, rude and disrespectful forms of expression are counterproductive and do not represent the heart of our beliefs. Like so many other volunteers in communities across this great land, Jonny and I strive to assist, educate, and serve.

      The matter at hand for Jonny and I was a legal issue. The city promptly corrected the error when brought to their attention, and I sincerely applaud them for this. This situation does clearly illustrate the preconceptions dog owners like myself are subjected to, even when trying to serve others. And while it is extremely disappointing to see the program evicted from the library, they do retain the right to do so. If they are ever to consider an all animal assisted therapy program, we must communicate with courtesy and respect to succeed in changing hearts and minds.

      I can't say thank you enough for all support that has been shown."

    14. Reached 1 signatures
    15. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      Peninsula Humane Society supported Burlingame Public Library's breed discrimination by continuing to work there after the library ousted pit bulls from the program. Now is the time for PHS to come forward and fight breed prejudice by calling on the library to reinstate a program that welcomes all breeds.

    16. Reached 750 signatures
    17. Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      "There is too much hate in this world already, children do not need to learn it at the library.” Great quote from Cris Cohen!

    18. Reached 500 signatures
    19. Library Shuts Down Reading to Dogs Program Over Pit Bull Prejudice

      Stephanie Feldstein
      Petition Organizer

      After being rescued from Michael Vick, Jonny Justice was not only rehabilitated, but he went on to help others — becoming a certified therapy dog and teaching the world about second chances with appearances on national TV and in magazines. But...


    Reasons for signing

    • Laura Berg MPLS, MN
      • about 3 years ago

      Ridiculous. Someone in power feels like its more important to give into their own prejudices than help people read.

    • Maeda Kimiko CHIBA, JAPAN
      • about 3 years ago

      Humans are selfish and irresponsible.We should keep company with enviroment,animals and humas right.We should respect other nature.Please don't commit human's crime anymore.I am against animal and nature's abusing.

    • cbristie wendling MARTINEZ, CA
      • about 3 years ago

      Wow ! And they let this "person" teach the children !! She is just teaching hate .. why stop at just hating certain dogs? Im surprised she hasnt banned certain people ! Shame Shame Shame !!

    • Mia Coleman LA VISTA, NE
      • about 3 years ago

      Wow. Really, cancel a reading program for children over disliking a breed of dog? Its not the breed or the dog, it's the owner when it comes to a dog's behavior and temperament.

      ugh! Ignorance.

    • Sara Phillips MONONGAHELA, PA
      • about 3 years ago

      Why doesn't pea brain Patricia Harding do some reading about the breed instead of doing a knee-jerk response?


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