Animal Communication Ethics – When to Cross the Line

Several years ago, a farrier in one of my beginning animal communication classes reported that a draft horse at one of the barns he worked at had been talking to him every time he was on the premises, telling him about the abuse she was experiencing. He had never heard of animal communication — certainly never studied it — so he thought he was going crazy and of course had no idea what, if anything, to do about this.

Likewise, one of my good friends, Kara, once found herself caught in a dilemma. Should she or should she not tell the owner of one of the horses at her barn what that horse had been telling her for two weeks?

One of the  “rules” most of us animal communicators follow, from  a code of ethics for the profession developed by Penelope Smith many years ago, reads: 

“Unless someone is in great immediate danger, I provide assistance through telepathic communication with nonhuman animals only where requested, so as to honor individual choice and privacy.”

(You can read the entire Code of Ethics HERE.)

So how do you know when to “cross the line?” Here’s my friend Kara’s story.

Kara was making nightly trips to the barn where she was boarding her mare, Sasha, in order to tend an injury the mare had incurred. It was mid-winter – cold, dark and dreary by the time Kara reached the barn. She usually found herself alone as she sat in the barn aisle, patiently waiting while her mare’s foot soaked in a bucket.

Another boarder in a stall nearby, a gelding we’ll call Jim, began calling to her every night, “Help me! Please tell my mom I need help.” Kara ignored Jim as politely as she could, because she had studied animal communication so was well aware of the above stated “rule.” And although she was quite gifted in animal communication, Kara had no intention of practicing it professionally. But being the compassionate animal lover and horse person that she was, Kara finally succumbed to Jim’s pleas and engaged with him enough to hear what he had to say.

Jim told Karen “I can’t breathe!”, and she “saw” and “felt” something in his throat. The message was very brief but very strong, and Karen felt certain she was hearing Jim accurately.

Kara didn’t really know Jim’s owner, Sally, but she had noticed that Jim had been having problems that interfered with his training. He could not be worked for any length of time, or very hard, without seriously overstressing him physically. But nobody could figure out what was wrong. Kara was also pretty sure that Sally was the last person on earth who would be open to hearing that her horse had “talked” to someone — anyone — and told them what was wrong with him. But Kara’s impressions from Jim were so strong that she decided to approach Sally and tell her what Jim had said to her. She figured she had nothing to lose.

“I know you’re going to think I’m crazy …,” she began, and she then outlined to Sally what Jim had told her. Sally glared, Kara persevered. She encouraged Sally to have Jim scoped, a simple inexpensive procedure, just in case there was in fact something in his throat. Sally did not respond and stormed away. But a few days later, saying nothing to Kara, she had her vet out, they scoped Jim, and, sure enough, he had a large benign tumor growing in his throat. The tumor was one that could be removed fairly easily, Jim recovered perfectly, and the problems with his training were solved.

This is a perfect example of how and when it is okay to “cross the line” ethically and hear out what an animal is trying to tell you, even if you don’t have permission. If the animal feels they are in trouble or danger, it is the humane thing to do. You may or may not be able to help bring a solution to their problem, but you can at least reassure them that you understand, and that you will do anything you possibly can to help them. And, believe it or not, sometimes it gives an animal a huge sense of relief just to know they have been heard. Some of them need to vent just like we do!

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