The Ethics of Communication
By Barbara Janelle M.A.
Unpublished. Written for the “Voice of Experience” Column, Species Link
I have been asked by students or clients: would I talk with an animal that is not their personal companion? I feel that in general, it is not ethical to talk with an animal without their person’s knowledge and permission.
I raised this question on an animal communicator chat list. Most communicators agreed they would not talk with an animal without the current person’s permission; a few said they will talk to any animal at any time because we don’t “own” them so animals are free agents. I believe they’re free, that we don’t “own” them, but I would not like to find out that a communicator had, for instance, talked to one of my animals without my knowledge.
I’ve answered the question regarding general situations, but how about these situations?
1. Is it okay for the breeder of a companion animal (such as one who was placed as a pup) to ask someone to speak to him/her?
2. What about when an animal is co-“owned” (as is done in the show world), and one owner wants to talk with the animal but doesn’t want the other owner to know, or the other owner isn’t okay with this?
3. Is it okay to talk with the animal who is deceased without the “owner’s” permission? Would you have the same answer if, for instance, I wanted to talk with my mom’s or friend’s dead cat without their knowledge? At what point does the animal as a spirit/soul become “free” to talk with us?
Kathleen A. Berard
Response from Barbara Janelle:
In my Level 1 Animal Communication Courses, I invite participants to put the names of their animals in a basket and I will draw one to communicate with as a demonstration of the approach I use. Once I connected with a dog and received the image of a two-dimensional body with staring eyes and teeth barred. I received no other information. I relayed this to the student and asked what was going on with the animal. He replied, “I don’t know. I owned the animal some years ago and then gave him away to someone who wanted a guard dog. I don’t know where he is and I’ve had no contact with the owner.” I told him that this animal was not going to give me any more information than this “Stay Out” message and I believed it was because I did not have the owner’s permission to communicate with the animal.
The important learning in this experience is that the animal made the decision not to engage in communication with me. In any communication, the animal chooses whether to participate or not, and it chooses the topics it will address and the depth to which it will communicate. So it is not just a matter of human ethics; the animal plays a determining role in communication.
I will often encounter dogs that take one look at me, rush up and say things like, “Tell my owner I love her!” or “I am a very bright being!” My job is to relay this information to the owner which I do in a very low key way (the owners usually do not know that I am a communicator) by saying, “He really loves you, doesn’t he?” or “My, he is a very bright being, isn’t he?” Never has an animal come up to me and given me deep personal information about the owner or their relationship. So when someone asks me to communicate with someone else’s animal, I respond by saying that I need the owner’s permission otherwise all I will receive is “It’s a nice day, isn’t it?”
There is another aspect to this as well, and that has to do with the way I access an animal. I go in on the beam of caring that the person has for the animal. This is a beam of light connecting the heart centers of human and animal. I also use the human’s voice – frequency and vibration to hook-up with the right animal. When I ask an owner for initial information about the animal – name, kind, breed, sex, age, it is not only because the information is useful to me but that it says to the animal that the owner gives permission for the communication to occur and requests the animal’s participation.
Sometimes a dog trainer, animal sitter, dog walker, groomer, etc. will ask me to communicate with an animal to help enhance understanding between them. I ask if the owner has given permission for this and if so I will try to connect with the animal. When the owner has not been approached for permission, I may try a check-in knowing that the decision about engaging in communication is up to the animal. In any of these situations, the topic is limited and the check-in is very brief.
When a person asks me to communicate with someone else’s animal, there can be an underlying issue about judging the owner and control issues in the human relationship. This is distasteful and dishonoring of the owner, the animal and me. I will not engage in this.
Communication is heart-centered. It is based on honesty, trust and respect. If these are not present, true communication does not occur.