What are your successful actions in working with
animal rescue and animal welfare issues?
Animal Communicators give their insights:
Teresa Wagner on some things that make communication with rescue groups work more smoothly
There are many myths and misunderstandings about why and how animals end up in shelters. Overpopulation and sheltering of companion animals in the U.S. is a complex social problem. Many animal lovers don't have a clue how their behaviors impact animals ending up in shelters or being euthanized. It is good for us to help educate others and support each other as we work with the pain of shelter or rescue animals (their pain and ours!).
I started working with animals in-person in shelters in 1992. Shelters are places filled with emotional confusion and suffering. I was terribly overwhelmed during my first visit. I was there to interview employees, not animals, for compassion fatigue training that the shelter system hired me to do for their workers. At that time, I didn't even know that North America has such an overpopulation epidemic of cats and dogs, and that millions are euthanized. It was quite an education.
In general, the worker bee tier of shelter workers typically is low paid and because of this tends not to have higher education or exposure to sophisticated emotional training. Yet most of them hang in there doing this incredibly hard work because they love the animals. The shelter workers inspired me to keep going past my pain and I knew I had to learn to deal with it.
Later it was the whales who helped teach me how to deal with the emotional pain from seeing and feeling animals' suffering. What they taught me is that if I am to help anyone who is suffering, I need to put my own reactions in the background while I am tending to others' suffering. Then, I could tend to my own painful reaction later.
While this sounds so simple, it changed my life. I find that when I tend to suffering in this order, by the time I get to my own, it is truly diminished. All that love and compassion running through me to the animals, calms and helps heal me, too. It is this intention that helps me the most. It is not forgetting my own pain. It is simply a willingness to accept that suffering exists in the moment I see it, and to learn to shower it with great love, not with my horror at what has happened, and then to shower my own remaining pain with loving kindness.
I volunteered at that shelter for a number of years a few times a month, often in the euthanasia room. I had been hired to help the workers with their traumatic stress. I didn't think I could possibly understand their trauma without experiencing everything they experienced firsthand. This changed my life and my views and understanding of the euthanasia process and who is and who is not responsible for it. I still work in shelters.
In addition to the intention the whales taught me, I always use Flower Essence Society’s Glassy Hyacinth flower essence, which helps the intention of getting to and staying with the compassion, not the horror. Some of the writings and meditations of Steven Levine also help me with this (Living with Dying). He does a great job of helping one learn to offer loving kindness to suffering without getting lost in it, and yet to never succumb to being repelled by it or inappropriately try to be a hero to fix it.
I am a strong emotional empath and feel the feelings of others at a very deep level. My first psychic teacher taught me how to protect myself with intention and light, so when I feel and express empathy at a deep soul level, I do not take in the pain of others. I have found that since practicing this, I still grieve and get angry at the people who cause so many animals to end up in shelters, but I can be with the animals in the state of love. It also helps to have talked to many spirit beings who show me how much they are around these animals. I know that no animal is alone.
All of this helped me in working with Hurricane Katrina animals. Only once did I melt down. I was in the grocery store and saw Katrina animals on the front of a magazine. Before I knew what hit me, I started sobbing. I left my cart and went back to my car. I cried for awhile, and then asked my whale and other guides for help. I went through the process of getting calm, connecting with the animals on the cover, and was able to simply be with them in their suffering, showering them gently with love and healing energy for a time. Then I felt better. I still fall apart sometimes.
My own healing around this issue remains with releasing and healing more of my anger toward people who, directly or indirectly, do things that create a surplus of animals that end up in shelters and euthanasia rooms. I sure wish I could wave a magic wand and make the whole issue be healed with every companion animal in the world in a loving home for their entire lives. Meanwhile, without such a wand, I try to heal my own heart so I am better able to serve these magnificent, wonderful animals who did nothing to deserve ending up in a shelter.
Lauren McCall on rescue work with Hurricane Katrina animals
I'm so pleased ACCAW (Animal Communicators Coalition for Animal Welfare) is coming together. I have just come back from the Oregon Humane Society. We have over eighty Hurricane Katrina dogs there and a handful of cats from the region. I spent several hours briefly connecting with about half the dogs (I have to go back and finish the other half). My objective was to reassure them that they would be loved and taken care of at the shelter and that we were looking for their people back home. In the event we can't find their families (or the families can't find their dogs on the web site), we would place them in wonderful, loving homes. Emotionally I held up pretty well, though there were a lot of sad stories. I'd say 90% of the animals were not spayed or neutered, quite a few had suffered from long term abuse and/or malnutrition, and almost all of the animals have dangerous parasites like heart or whip worms. Though many missed their people, several were excited that this was a new start for them.
I feel blessed to be able to do this work. As animal communicators we try to help people and their animal companions every day. Today, I was struck by how much we can do on a larger scale, while still connecting with beings as individuals.
Leneah Forest on animal welfare activism:
The comments and suggestions I will share are a result of activism in many areas and ages of my life. Some are the result of “success” on any level and some are the result of having to think about what I would have done differently.
1. My heart calls me to a project from a loving impetus, so I am working from that place of love. This not only feels good but allows me to attract more of the same.
2. I have a goal, yet am not attached to its attainment. I only know that I do what I do because I am called to help bring this along and see where this journey takes me as well.
3. I have an overall goal but I focus on small steps as goals in and of themselves. I try to keep myself in balance and stay nourished, which is not to say that I don't overextend myself for finite periods of time when it seems necessary.
4. In working for change, I focus on educating the public first and foremost. As a writer I use that skill and assemble at least a few like minded people who want to give the issue some attention.
5. I do enough research, get documentation, including photos where appropriate, to put together some materials as well as finding other sources to recommend. In cases where photos are heart rending, I would recommend a few different packets. One could ask: “Would you rather not see anything graphic?” If so, then give something else that has a greater chance of being read.
6. We may choose a name as an organization, which seems to be helpful out in the world.
7. We write up a mission statement for ourselves, in part to double check that we do have the same agenda.
8. I attempt to locate any sympathetic lawmakers and any potential celebrity spokespeople. They have been few and far between but are part of the checklist.
9. I attempt to locate sympathetic employed or freelance journalists who write for any sort of animal publications and gradually form relationships. I check for any local talk shows with animal loving hostesses/hosts.
10. If I am proposing an action for people to take, I make it as easy as possible for them to do. When I worked for support of the labeling GMO products bill, I provided a form letter with room for personal comments, the list of legislators for each district and then I addressed, stamped and mailed every signed letter, just to make certain that they were mailed and in a timely fashion. A lot of educational material was available for those who had little or no prior knowledge.
11. I ask lots of people to do one easy thing.
In the case of the ACCAW discussion group member who wanted to do something about ending cruelty to animals in the Chinese fur trade and didn’t quite know where to begin, this is what I suggest:
After I had my materials and organizational name, I would begin an educational campaign in my local area. I am a great believer in individuals changing not only their own consciousness, but being the fluid that ultimately can soak the blotting paper of government and big business. The latter are so used to ignoring us that I rarely spend a disproportionate amount of time working those venues. However, I recommend giving them some attention.
Will your government issue an official statement deploring this industry? Will any level of your government do this? Will local stores sign a promise not to carry those products?
I'd take a shot at big business by getting the names of the executives at the large chain pet supply stores, such as PetSmart and Petco. Begin by sending letters synopsizing the issue, including photos if you have them, and going on to say something like, “I realize that it is difficult to avoid purchasing stock made in China but imagine how shocked and unhappy your clientele will be to learn that in supporting China economically one is helping promote the status quo which includes this horrific practice and industry.” I'm guessing that their client bases are comprised of over 85% cat and dog guardians.
Notice I am not proposing a boycott nor am I saying that I will organize one against this chain but I am inferring that their clients will be learning this information and will have a reaction. I would continue by asking if there is a way in which Petco, for example, would like to work with my organization to help end this industry. Be prepared with some suggestions, such as letters to or meetings with Chinese officials (have names and contact information ready) explaining that the Chinese dog and cat fur industry may make it difficult for them to continue selling products made in China since the pet supply stores exist to serve dog and cat lovers who are naturally upset by this industry. Would they take steps to end this industry and replace it with another one, perhaps some wonderful new carrying crates or kennels for dogs and cats or some product that does not involve the use of dogs and cats as anything other than consumers of said product? Perhaps the large chains could propose an item which they see a need for the Chinese to produce and retrain those who were earning their living in the fur industry.
The people trying to earn a living by capturing the dog and cat loving consumer dollar might take notice. Also, are there any humane organizations which would sign a mission statement which could then be part of info packets for corporations and humans alike? That would be the start of an approach and some actions to take.
Another action I do for education on animal welfare issues is to rotate my e-mail signature line through a variety of choices including pointing the way to sites that educate and offer ways to change behavior to benefit non-human or human animals. It is an easy addition and another pebble in the lake. If you find sites that seem good and are relevant to your purpose, you might consider appending them with some brief explanatory or encouraging statement. Here’s an example:
Simply by changing some of your shopping habits you can stop supporting a cruel industry: http://www.geocities.com/antianimaltesting/
Janet Dobbs with a note on the fur trade issue:
In the late 1990's or early 2000's a co-worker of mine broke the story in the Washington Post about the horrible treatment and slaughter of dogs in either China or Korea and the fact that the dog fur is used in many American garments like the winter parkas that have fur trimmed hoods. He was sickened by the video of the dogs’ treatment. That story led to various investigative stories on network and local TV. One thing that was accomplished was that coats and other garments were taken out of many stores with a promise to never buy that kind of product again. I do not know if these stores have gone back to buying these products again, but at least for awhile some things changed.
Patti Henningsen responds to a comment of an animal communicator in ACCAW discussion group, who stated:
I have a different slant on rescuing animals that became apparent to me while rehabilitating abused rabbits. Rabbits are a highly abused species who are used as, pets, food, and fur.I have an animal communication practice in western Maryland and I am also a long-time rabbit rescuer. I live in a prison town comprised of either ex-convicts or those in the business of rehabilitating ex-cons, or those who are in the business of making new convicts, such as law enforcement agencies.
A few months ago, I took in some rabbits from a horrible backyard breeder situation in West Virginia. When I met Hillary, one of the bunnies who I rescued, I realized that she was like an ex-con. She was completely institutionalized like many ex-cons who have spent many years in prison, and they are terrified of change. I believe for this same reason, some of you may hear an animal in need denying any want of a better future. We are not all born with the spirit of rebellion burning in our souls.
Hillary was found sitting on several months' worth of feces in a milk crate barely bigger than her body. Hillary did not know this was a bad thing because it is all she had ever known. When I first fostered her, she would never come out of her litter box except to drink. She didn't even know how to hop or walk. Hillary had found a way to cope with this: to shrink into her box and attempt to become invisible.
Finally, I decided she would never be adopted unless she discovered how things were supposed to be. So I paired her with a boy from a similar situation but who had different problems. Both rabbits had depended on rain water for their moisture. When I gave him a water bowl, he would just drink a gallon a day in anticipation of a long wait for the next rain drink. Without rain, he depended on the dew gathering on his milk crate. This is a condition I call hoarding water, which I've seen in some rabbits who have suffered the same kind of neglect.
Now Hillary is in love and hopping about happily and snuggling with her new friend. Her eyes shine like never before. Her soul is blossoming. Thank goodness I dragged her out of her shell in which she very much wanted to stay. The fact that she wanted to stay there only shows that coping mechanisms can cause the abused to not only cope with but to become entrenched in their misery. They should be removed from it and shown the joys and pleasures of life. It is a wondrous thing to see.
Sometimes people and animals don't know that there are horizons beyond the ones they see from the prisons of their perception. One taste of freedom and happiness, whether by gentle coercion or by accident, and they will never look back. It is often not okay to accept someone's request to remain in a hellish situation. Too many women stay with men who end up killing them for the same reason. They need the intervention of those who know that life is truly beautiful and want to show them this.
I am new to the rescue/shelter community. As I read some of the prayer requests I was very upset. The pictures that formed in my head were too much for me. How can sensitive people like us protect ourselves when facing situations that are too much for us to take in? Janet Dobbs
Gayle Nastasi One thing which works for me is to take the upset energy and try to ground it, and to ask the Earth to turn it into a positive use. Then I'll use visualizations and create a new situation for those people and animals in my mind, envisioning how things will be when the healing is complete and freedom won. Focusing on the good that might be helps me to deal with the pain of the current situation.
Karen Taylor Prior to discovering that I could communicate with animals I worked at the local Humane Society for about four years. I was in charge of the cats and during that time witnessed many forms of cruelty to animals that came through the doors from the community. Unless you have been in that environment, you have no idea what goes on behind the doors of an animal shelter and I will not share it with you here.
I had been completely in love with animals my entire life and thought that working at an animal shelter would be the best thing that could ever happen to me. It was but there was a price. Reality hit me smack in the face right from the start. Fortunately, I was able to get through it with the complete knowing that all was in Divine Order, and I had to trust that. I will not say it was an easy task and I will not say that I didn't get angry with what I saw, but as I discovered my communicating abilities and was able to get the perspective from these animals that I worked with almost every day, my reassurance came from them.
Most of them understood why they were there, what might happen to them, if they were there to find their new family, or if they came there to make their transition from this life. My heart became lighter as I spoke with the occasional animal who appeared to need rescuing from a bad situation, only to have them ask to be left where they were. They had a purpose for being there and it was not complete. I was utterly amazed at these creatures who so willingly were there for the highest good of another. I am still amazed and grateful for my experiences at that shelter.
Penelope Smith In my experience when facing the horrors of the world or the dark side of humanity (within all humans including myself), there is a balance to be maintained. By staying in the center of our being and all being, we can realize what it is that we are meant to do in our own unique way to shine the light in this world and embrace the darkness with the light. This is a time of the darkness of humanity being exposed, so all of us can shine the light of our truth upon it, and shift from conflict into the cooperative spirit of love. Shining the light and embracing the darkness instead of judging or feeling miserable brings unity and life to all involved to the degree that they are ready, willing, and able to feel and go to that peaceful centered place.
Sinking into the darkness by fixedly contemplating the brutality of life drains our life force and adds to the malaise. Uniting with our deepest goodness and that of others while focusing on the positive light and action we can bring to aspects of life to which we are drawn is uplifting and energizing. Do what you need to do to help yourself focus on uplifting your own life force and you will then be able to do the same for others.
When you see the suffering that people and animals go through or bring to the prayer list asking for healing, know that these states are transitory and are part of a game or life drama that is ending for those involved, or it wouldn't come up to have the light shine on it. I'd recommend that you stay in a prayerful state of positive heartfulness as you read each request and use the Dolphin Prayer to focus your energies.
I have focused on education and my particular mission in life to increase consciousness of the unity of life. I have found that as soon as my book is translated into the language of a particular area, the generation of positive energy toward animals starts to swell in that country or region. Soon, requests for classes come, and soon after that animal communicators start to appear. Consciousness continues to grow about the sacredness of all life. It's a garden that begins to flourish more and more. Each of us does our part.
Take heart. See the light in all situations that you are drawn to work with. Each of us makes a difference. Do all actions from the inspiration of your own divine center.
A few ACCAW members wrote with concern about being asked for help in working with the police in a dog abuse case and the appropriateness of trying to find criminals with animal communication.
Penelope Smith Some animal communicators do very well with cases like this and get helpful info. Law enforcement officials in some places have "psychics" on their team for leads. The sheriff in the case mentioned was asking for information, so it sounds like (and it would be easy to find out) it would be welcome as "psychic" information that might lead to arrest given other physical evidence. I have worked on cases like this and always qualify that it is what I get from the traumatized animal's point of view and may not be helpful or accurate.
You don't need to "help" on every appeal that comes through the ACCAW line. There are hundreds of us that get these e-mails. Add a prayer and love and let it go.
Denise Schultz I really appreciated your reply about working on legal cases such as this extreme abuse. I think it sets just the right tone, both for how to handle the request and how to bear the information that such a dreadful thing was done. If we each contribute in our own way to adding to the well-being of all, partly by caring for ourselves enough that no one of us needs to try to do everything that comes to our attention,
· the most help is accomplished,
· our personal effectiveness is maximized,
· our psyches are well-cared for,
· and no-one needs to be traumatized by the alert that went out.
I have had two extremes of experience: Some truly dreadful things do not bother me and I am able to help, in large part by being able to see a beautiful resolution of healing right now, and hold that energy, even though it is not yet here, or, I am completely decked by even knowing what happened and unable to help, except to ground myself and release my own negative imprints about the issue, so that the injured being does not have to carry the psychic weight of my horror.
Kindness and forgiveness for self and others
It has taken me a long time to realize that both responses are valid, and I have learned not to blame myself for the times I “cannot help.” I have seen that I help by not overdoing it, and instead applying my energy only where I feel called.
Over time, I have learned to “read the energy” even at the beginning of a notice. I know which way I am energetically tuned, and let go immediately of those I must, and help where I feel individually called. One sure sign for me that I must let go is when I feel judgment rise up in me against the perpetrator. I know my judgment only sends the perpetrator a very toxic image that they may have to remove from their energy field in order to heal. If I cannot contribute directly to the solution, I can at least avoid being part of the problem.
Healing as a Diffuse Field
For me this goes back to my belief that healing is not directional, not from me to someone. I call in a diffuse field of healing and invite the other beings to join me there. A lot of healer burnout may come from trying to send healing to someone or something. This can block the portion of the healing field which is intended for the healers themselves. While this “healing invitation process” is my goal, I can always tell when I'm slipping. If I get sloppy or too tired, I may take a shortcut and find myself sending but not sharing the healing field. That's a sign to slow down and take better care of myself and do the rest of the job (be open to receiving healing myself).
Dawn Hayman I appreciated your response regarding the animal cruelty. As an animal communicator at Spring Farm Cares, often on the front lines of animal cruelty cases, there are days that I start to go nuts. For me, this journey of animal communication has been about opening my heart more and more. It amazes me how much more it just keeps expanding. With that open heart, and experiencing animal cruelty almost daily, it often feels like my heart will burst with sadness and hopelessness. When I feel that, its my first clue that I need to go be with the animals and spend time with them. We have some animals here at SFC that have been through horrendous abuse. Yet they welcome each human who walks onto this farm with the same unconditional love and open heart. One of our horses once said to me, “If I can let it go, and I'm the one who lived through it, why can't you?” I remember that almost daily and I strive to achieve it.
Animal cruelty laws vary from state to state, but they all are extremely weak. Many police agencies will not even take a complaint seriously. It’s not necessarily that they don't care about animals, but they aren't familiar with the laws, don't know what to do, and won't touch them for fear of being sued. We have watched repeatedly as case after case of animal cruelty in our area is either just shoved aside, or if prosecuted, the abuser is given a slap on the wrist and sent off. As an organization we are addressing this through our educational programs aimed at law enforcement and the judicial system. Its a slow process and very tedious.
As an animal communicator, I learned long ago that vengeance wasn't the answer. I needed to put my energy where the animals were asking me to go: to the healing side of the equation. When we hear about such horrendous animal cruelty, the first thing we all want to do is GET the person who did it. For two reasons: to prosecute them, and more than that, to prevent it from happening again. My experience is that case by case it doesn't stop them from doing it again. Three huge abuse cases I have personally been involved with went right through the prosecution and the courts and the people are right back abusing animals again, only now it is harder to prosecute them a second time.
As communicators, we can have an impact on opening hearts. The more hearts that open, the less people will be able to abuse animals. I know it seems idealistic but the animals are right. It is the only way. Having felt the helplessness, despair, and anger about these tragic cases repeatedly for the last few years, I can say that we need to channel our energy into the prayers, healings, and the work we are doing to spread the messages of the animals and all their love. It makes a huge difference. I've seen it, felt it, and experienced it first hand. Each heart opened changes the world in amazing ways. I'm not saying we shut our eyes to the animal abuse. I'm certainly not saying we shouldn't prosecute it. However, we must use our energy to aid the healing side of the story and not add to the anger and hopelessness of the abusive side.
It is my observation that people do such horrible animal abuse out of complete lack of self worth. People who feel they have no place to go, no self worth, and are filled with hopelessness often lash out at animals who are more helpless than they are. That is something we CAN do something about. The animals tell me constantly that it’s about healing the human heart and setting it free.