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Healing With Animals
by Jan Fredericks, M.A., L.P.C.

Animals and people have always shared a special relationship with each other. With the increase of information concerning animals and their ability to heal people psychologically, spiritually and physically, we are becoming more aware of our relationship with all animals in our society.

To understand our culture and how it affects our thinking and values, we need to look at our original relationship with animals. The Creator of all living beings were created with nefesh chayah - living soul (I believe all animals will live eternally). God gave us 'dominion over the animals' which theologians interpret as being good stewards with compassion. In it's context, all life lived in harmony (see Genesis 1:26) and we were made in God's image. All life (human and animal) were also given a plant-based diet (see Genesis 1:29-31a). In Genesis chapter 2:18-19, after God said, 'It is not right that the man should be alone' animals were created. Woman was made as the suitable helper for man and all lived together in harmony.

But, after sin entered the world, the animal/human relationship suffered greatly and has sped on a downward spiral to where we are today. We became desensitized and have failed to restore the harmonious relationship we once had. After the flood, God caused animals to fear man (Genesis 9:2) and Old Testament laws were made to teach compassion for animals.

Today, we are taught that animals are here for our sport (hunters in the Bible are considered to be rebels against God), our entertainment, our food, and for our supposed benefit in research laboratories. Billions of animals suffer daily in the USA alone for mankind's desires and the economy. Since our spiritual lives are linked with our relationship with animals, we need to learn about the many issues in the world today to restore the human/animal relationship.

The links between domestic violence and animal abuse have been substantiated. The Humane Society of the United States, www.hsus.org , has the First Strike campaign which promotes and supports the development of local efforts to reduce violence against all lives. Cross reporting is encouraged when animals are in violent homes. Society and Animals Forum (formerly Psychologists for the Ethical Treatment of Animals), are making great strides to heal those directly and indirectly involved with animal abuse with education and counseling programs. (Visit www.psyeta.org for more information about possibly having a seminar in your community for professionals, and/or visit their great resource list of organizations that promote the healing through the animal/human relationship.)

The Delta Society, www.deltasociety.org also provides programs on pet loss, pet assistance for the disabled, and pet therapy for nursing homes, schools hospitals, etc. There are many local organizations and individuals that provide such education and therapy.

To expand beyond the domestic animal domain, we need to look at how children are desensitized to animals in general. Are we teaching kindness and compassion by instruction and example for turtles, snakes, lizards, bugs, etc. by allowing them to live stress free in their natural habitat? Are we teaching respect for all life (even fish) to live as they were created to live?

Physicians for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, www.pcrm.org , also uncovers many of the myths we have been fed concerning animals used for food and research. The animal products we eat and drink causes us to be a physically (and spiritually) unhealthy society.

Programs and educational materials are available for us to help restore the intended relationship we were created to have with animals. We would all be much more healthier physically and spiritually.

Jan is Founder of God's Creatures Ministry ( www.Godscreaturesministry.org , Chairman of Catholic Concern for Animals-USA www.Catholic-animals.org , a Licensed Counselor and Christian Educator.

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God's Creatures Ministry is committed to spreading God's compassion to all He has made based on The Scriptures. Although we are a Christian Ministry, we encourage all to have their own animal welfare committee in their community. We extend our resources to those who would like to learn more or begin their own God's Creatures Ministry as an extension of us. God created us to have a vegetarian diet and commissioned us to protect His animals. Instead, we have exploited them for our entertainment, fashion, appetite and useless, torturous research. These creatures have the right to live as they were created to live. Because we live IN this world, but are not OF this world, we strive to bring God's mercy and justice to all. We live in God's Kingdom now where Jesus, The Sacrificial Lamb, The Prince of Peace, The Lion of Judah reigns. We look forward to that day when all of creation will be 'set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God' (Romans 8:21) where a little child will lead and guide God's creatures (see Isaiah 11:5-9).

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