Animal Reiki Source Newsletter: October, November, December 2011
By Nancy Kida
On June 1, 2011, at about 4:30 PM, an EF3 tornado ripped through Hampden County, in Western Massachusetts. Like everyone else who witnessed the tornado passing through, I dove into the basement with my little dog, Ben. Thunder, lightening, and hail the size of golf balls preceded the tornado. Then it got quiet and very dark, like midnight. Moments later the breeze picked up and I began to hear a sound – like a freight train. The air was vibrating. It was at this very point in time that we headed for the basement.
Although it only took moments for the tornado to pass through the town of Monson, its effects have been severe and will be long lasting. The tornado passed about a quarter of a mile from my house, destroying buildings, homes, and snapping off trees and telephone poles. I was one of the lucky ones whose house and property survived without damage. I knew right away that Ben had been affected by the storm. While we were in the basement he ran around, frantically barking the whole time. Ever since, his anxiety and nervousness have intensified.
Many other animals were not so lucky. With such little warning many people didn’t have time to get their animals into the basement with them. They barely had time to dive into the basement themselves. Many of the animals that did survive the storm went into hiding or ran off into the woods or to other parts of the neighborhood. First, all the people had to be accounted for, and those who needed it were treated for injuries. Some people began looking for their pets as soon as they could. Others had more pressing matters to attend to before they could think about their pets.
As a result of the Pets Evacuation and Transportation Standards (PETS) Act of 2006, enacted after Hurricane Katrina, the State of Massachusetts Animal Response Team (SMART) was formed to provide rescue, recovery, and temporary shelter for animals affected by disasters. It was deployed the very next day. SMART set up operations at a designated staging area, a kennel in the nearby town of Wales. This kennel was also designated as a temporary shelter for all recovered animals. The animals were later moved to appropriate shelters for longer-term care. There were two veterinarians on-call at the kennel for injured animals. A horse rescue team was also deployed. Posters and informational flyers were distributed in and around the affected areas and announcements introducing SMART’s function were made at informational meetings.
The work of SMART was multi-faceted. Its immediate concern was to find animals that may have been trapped (and possibly injured) in the rubble of the damaged houses and barns. Several teams were sent out to search the affected areas and, also, to set out traps to catch frightened animals that would not come out of hiding until everyone had left the area for the night. Food and water was also set out for them. People could go to, or call, SMART personnel if they had lost or found animals. They could request temporary shelter for their animals until they could reestablish themselves into new living quarters, obtain food for their pets, and request veterinary care, if needed. In the event that a person could no longer care for their animal, they could surrender it to SMART for adoption.
On the second day after the tornado I volunteered to help staff one of the information centers. While I was there, people stopped by for a variety of reasons. Some were looking for pet carriers and others needed pet food. Some just needed to learn about the services being provided. At one point a cat was turned in for transport to a shelter where it would be held until its family could be found. People even stopped by to donate food and supplies.
At about this time I began offering distant Reiki to the animals in the area. Even though I didn’t know them or their whereabouts, I knew that Reiki could help ease the shock and stress of the tornado. With such massive damage to the forests, I was also concerned for the wildlife and the trees in the affected areas. So I offered the Reiki to them as well. Needless to say, the energy flow has been very intense!
All in all, several cats were found, turned in for temporary shelter, or surrendered. I had already been offering Reiki at the shelter where they were being held. Because of their special circumstances, I would sit down directly outside their cages. Once the Reiki began flowing, they would start to purr and would then nod off to sleep (along with many other animals in the shelter). Only one cat accepted hands-on Reiki for a brief period of time. The rest were so stressed that they preferred to curl up in the back of their cages. At one point I got a visual of what one of the cats had experienced. He showed me how he was in the cellar when his house was being ripped apart, and how he had hidden until well after the winds had stopped. Then he showed me his frantic escape to the outside and his desperate run away from the house and into the nearby woods. I felt so sad, because I know there were so many others like him that had had similar experiences.
Many of the affected animals turned in or found were house cats, so being held in cages has been an additional stress for them. Several of them were listed as “owner unknown”. Hopefully their owners have found them. The vacant look in their eyes said it all. Fortunately, the dogs that were recovered were reunited with their families within a day or two after the tornado passed through.
There were, also, five fish, two pet rabbits, and a less than ten-day-old wild, baby rabbit that were in need of assistance. The fish were caught and placed in an established backyard pond with other fish. They are currently enjoying the company of the resident fish and are getting along well in their new surroundings. The two pet rabbits were cared for by a member of the SMART team and have since been reunited with their owner. The wild baby rabbit was immediately given Reiki (and kept warm) for the first couple of hours by a member of the Animal Response Team. “Twister”, as it was affectionately named, was turned over to two of the team members for nurturing. It did so well that it was able to be released into the wild!
Even though I have no way of tracking the effects of Reiki on these animals, I know that, by its very nature, Reiki has made an important contribution by relieving some of the stress caused by the tornado and restoring some semblance of balance into their lives and into the lives of their caregivers. Many of the cats have since been retrieved by their loved ones. It is my hope that the remaining unidentified cats and any strays picked up will also join their families or get adopted into loving homes. The one animal that I can track is my own dog, Ben. With steady doses of Reiki, homeopathy and the healing effects of time, he has finally returned to his previous state of mind.