Kitten in Shelter

What Is It Like To Be An Animal In A Shelter? 

No animal wishes to find themselves in a shelter. A shelter is a strange, noisy, unfamiliar place where tensions and fear run high. 

All shelter animals suffer from stress. All shelter animals are living in limbo, somewhere between where they were and where they are going.  Some have suffered from neglect or abuse and are fearful of humans.  Some are sick or injured or malnourished.  Some are grieving the loss of their human or animal companions.  Some are simply worn out by the trauma of a strange place filled with noise and anxiety.

According to the ASPCA, over 6.5 million animals enter animal shelters every year.  They've been dropped off at the front door of the shelter, or they may have been abandoned, left in a park, thrown out of a car, or left tied to a tree.  There are those who are separated from their owners due to a lack of resources to care for them or the inability to find a place to live that accepts animals. Still others have suffered sudden tragic separation from their humans in a natural catastrophe like a flood, a hurricane, a fire. And then there are the Christmas and birthday presents that came with a long-term commitment that the lucky recipient wasn't prepared for.   

How Reiki Can Help

Reiki helps an animal regain physical and emotional balance, and it quiets the spirit. Reiki connects through the heart with love. It creates peaceful energy and, as the animals become aware of that energy, they sense that it offers them a respite from the stresses of the unknown. In animal Reiki, it is not necessary to touch the animals or be in their kennel space.  It's not necessary to remove the animals to another area.  Reiki is offered from whatever place is best for the animal and the staff, at whatever time is best for them. 

Reiki can often have an immediate healing impact on the mental, physical and emotional state of the animals.  They may stop pacing, stop barking, stop quivering.  They may relax enough to move from their corner and come forward to feel the gentle flow and to be closer to a human.  They may start to eat again.  Sometimes Reiki will simply bring about the gift of rest and sleep.   And, in many cases, animals treated with Reiki are adopted more quickly.

And Reiki in shelters is not just for the animals. Shelter staff and volunteers experience high levels of stress and trauma too. They do what they do because they have beautiful hearts, and those hearts can be worn down by the sheer magnitude of the task at hand. A Reiki chair treatment for human caregivers provides a few moments of peace and ease in a healing space of kindness and compassion.


Animal Reiki practitioners who are members of the Shelter Animal Reiki Association are dedicated to helping animals at our nation's animal shelters and sanctuaries.  The Mission of SARA:

The Shelter Animal Reiki Association (SARA) is a non-profit organization that teaches and promotes the Let Animals Leadâ„¢ method which uses meditation practices. Our goal is to create a peaceful, healing environment within shelters and other animal care settings. We work closely with staff and volunteers of shelter/rescues, veterinarians, and service organizations to help create a positive healing space for all.

SARA Reiki practitioners are trained to offer gentle supportive energy to these animals to help them rest and heal.

Laurie has volunteered with the ASPCA, the SPCA, the Humane Society, Best Friends shelters, local rescues, large animal sanctuaries and therapeutic riding centers.  Volunteer Reiki treatments are a fundamental component of her work.  If you or your rescue are interested in how Reiki can help heal and comfort these animals, please contact Healing Paws Reiki.  Laurie will meet with staff to talk about the benefits of Reiki and to understand the specific needs and concerns of the shelter.  

Blessings to all who care for animals in shelters and rescues, and for those who come to adopt them and take them to their forever home.

*Reiki sessions offered at shelters, rescues and sanctuaries are free. Shelter staff and shelter volunteers who schedule Reiki sessions for their own companion animals receive a 50% discount on all sessions.

The greatness of humanity is not in being human but in being humane.
— Mahatma Gandhi