Skip to content
Home » What is an Animal Chaplain?

What is an Animal Chaplain?

Nalu Shrine by Crystal Lamirande
Photo: Kim Stallwood

An animal chaplain is a person who is there to offer spiritual and emotional support for humans and animals at the beginnings and the in-betweens of an animal’s life, not just the end. Companion animals come to mind first perhaps, but an animal chaplain is also there if you need support or find yourself challenged regarding our planet, wildlife, or those who are contained in factory farms or the public display industry such as amusement parks. An animal chaplain is also there for you if you work at shelters, non-profits, or veterinary offices.

An Animal Chaplain will help your sense of loss.

Photo: Patricia Denys

Many have found that when experiencing grief or concern over an animal, very few, if anyone in our lives understands such deep emotions. The attitude from others, even those close to us, can be dismissive because our loss is not a human loss. Yet according to Forbes Advisor in 2023, 85% of those with companion dogs and 76% of those with companion cats consider their companions to be family members. In addition, 66%, or 86.9 million homes in the U.S. have a companion animal. Yet we often feel uncomfortable talking to our fellow workers, family, and friends about such a deep sense of loss.

A Deep Listener.

Photo: Jo-Anne McArthur
Farm Sanctuary

How can an animal chaplain help? What tools can one learn to use to create a sense of healing? An interfaith, interspecies animal chaplain is a non-judgmental, deep listener. Just being heard is a tremendous help. Taking time to process or practicing meditation, for example, can help with the healing process.

Photo: Elephant Nature Park

An animal chaplain examines your personal and established rituals or ceremonies and using those can help you craft a way to honor and celebrate the life or lives of animals. Creating a life transition ritual of your own can serve to honor and to memorialize. Rituals are a part of healing and help one realize that healing is positive and permissible! There are also creative exercises one can do such as writing, keeping a journal, or creating art to help heal from grief. These are just some examples that offer closure and healing.

Want to learn more about my work, please visit this link.

I am a Compassion Consortium Chaplain.