Reiki Helps Soothe, Calm Shelter Animals

By Sharon Cohen, Humane Society Volunteer and Reiki Practitioner
Humanely Speaking•WINTER 2011

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably just like me…an animal person who will do everything and anything to help keep your companion animals happy and healthy!

I found my way to learning and practicing Reiki in 2003. Reiki (pronounced ray-key) is a Japanese technique that promotes stress reduction and healing. It is a natural therapy that gently balances life energies and brings about health and well being through a very subtle type of energy work that is performed by the gentle touch of the Reiki practitioner.

After completing several Reiki courses, my family and friends were the happy recipients of my newfound talent. After practicing Reiki on my human friends, it wasn’t long before I thought, “why not use this energy on my four legged companions?” The cats were always trying to crawl on my clients while I was giving them a treatment, and the dogs were very interested as well.

From there my natural inclination was to volunteer my time to help the many abused and neglected animals at the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. I was uncertain how to approach this as often people are skeptical about alternative healing methods. But one of the vets at the spay/neuter clinic was already using acupuncture, so when I contacted the clinic, they were very receptive and I was pleasantly surprised.

We are all made up of energy. Reiki works so well because the Reiki practitioner acts as a conduit to access the healing energy of the universe. Animals are the best “conductors” for this work, because they are so pure. They have no preconceived ideas of how this should work. They simply accept that you are trying to help them. They are clear and wonderful receptors for this type of energy work because they have no agenda and usually simply accept this energy as a gift.

The animals at the Humane Society are more in need of this type of energy work than anyone. The healing benefits of Reiki include emotional healing following any type of trauma, abuse or neglect. So many of the animals come in relinquished by an abusive owner or hit by a car and brought in by a good Samaritan.

I want to stress that Reiki energy is not in lieu of medical attention. I come in after the bone has been set in a cast, or after many of their physical ailments have been attended to. Reiki speaks to the soul of the animal. It helps calm them in crisis, accelerates the healing process, and helps them to understand the staff is there to help, not hurt them further.

Because many of the animals that come in to the shelter have had traumatic experiences involving humans, they can especially benefit from Reiki by associating a human with caring and healing. Reiki can greatly ease the animals’ stress and anxiety; it helps them relax in an unfamiliar environment, speed healing of illness and injuries, and heal emotional issues that often result in behavior problems and impede adoption.

Often people ask me how I can volunteer at the shelter and see so many unwanted pets. I respond by pointing out these are the lucky ones! They are not wandering the streets in search of shelter and food, they are out of the elements, they have the attention of a caring and compassionate staff, and now they have a chance to find their forever home.

I have been blessed to see the progress of some animals who never would have made it had they not been brought in to the Humane Society. The scars of the abused and neglected are treated physically and emotionally, and the unwanted are put up for adoption to a loving and forever home.

I am so grateful to be a part of the Humane Society of Southern Arizona. The staff members are friendly and capable, but more importantly, they are compassionate and nurturing to every animal turned into our shelter. I am also grateful that I can contribute to healing that takes place every day in our shelter. Reiki logo image

Sharon Cohen is a Pima Animal Care Center (PACC) volunteer and Reiki practitioner who specializes in animal Reiki. Contact her today at

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