Sunday, August 29, 2010

As It Stands: Pet Psychics prey on people who are desperate


By Dave Stancliff/For The Times-Standard

Posted: 08/29/2010 01:28:55 AM PDT

I love animals, and hate to see pet owners exploited.

I'm not referring to owners who buy organic pet food, or those who take their animals to a regular veterinarian to assure their health, or who buy expensive toys for their pets. I'm not even talking about people who fly their pets on specialty airlines (

Those scenarios seem perfectly reasonable if you have the money and the inclination. If you love your animal, and millions of Americans do -- to the tune of $47.7 billion in 2009 according to American Pet Products -- then the expense seems justified. Non-pet owners may disagree and shake their heads. I say to each his own, as long as there's mutual respect and no one is being cheated.

With that established, I want to share where I draw the line between “reasonable” as mentioned above, and expenses that are really elaborate rip-offs.

When someone tells you they can find your missing animal because they talk with the pet's spirits/energies, you will become a victim if you buy it. If they claim to talk with dead animals or to heal your pet's illness by touching them, smile, wish them a good day, and slowly back away.

I searched the web for a good example of a pet psychic/communicator and came up with Ellen Kohn ( Her beautifully laid out website offers numerous psychic services for pet owners.

Kohn recently completed an accredited program and received her Spiritual Counseling Degree. I'll go into where you can get such a degree shortly, but first, let's examine what she offers pet owners:

According to her website, she has communication skills that help track lost animals; she talks with live and deceased animals; she can heal animals by touching them; and she solves any emotional traumas or imbalances your pet may have. Move over Dr. Doolittle.

Kohn can hold long distance “chats” via a meditative process and uses crystals for (you guessed it) clarity and perception. She writes everything down -- any questions you may have -- and follows up with phone consultations with owner and pet. These consultations can last for months.

Kohn also employs the 38 Bach Flower remedies created by British physician Dr. Edward Bach in the 1930s. Where did Kohn learn this and stuff like Spirit-to-Spirit Communication? This ability to chat it up with dead animals doesn't just happen after a vision or something.

You have to go to a special place like the Gurney Institute of Animal Communication (www.gurney, to find the answer. After working in the “field” for 20 years, Carol Gurney established the institute in 2008. Since then, she claims she has trained “thousands” of animal pet psychics/communicators.

Does all this sound a little “off-kilter” to you? You're not the only one. Joe Nickell, a senior research fellow at the Committee for Skeptical Inquiry (, says pet psychics are a rip-off. Nickell, a self-proclaimed full-time paranormal investigator, claims he's seen it all in 40 years of research. He prides himself on knowing all the tricks used on the pet psychic's clients. You might say he's a modern day Houdini (who loved to expose fraudulent people psychics) on a 21st century mission.

Nickell calls the pet psychic's approach with clients “the art of fishing for information.” He explains that cold reading, a technique where the psychic asks questions instead of stating facts, makes general statements and watches for body language clues, is an important tool in the pet psychic's box of tricks.

Simply put, the pet isn't going to give anything away. The pet psychic really reads the owner. The people who are vulnerable to these psychics are grieving pet owners, or desperate people with pets that in need a physical miracle.

I don't think all pet-psychics are intentional frauds. There are some who really think they're helping. The tipping point is money. If none is required, then you can safely explore without being exploited.

As It Stands, if there's one thing I'm sure of it's the special bond between pets and their owners. It is no different than the bond between humans; called love.

UPDATE: Websites that have picked up this column

The Book of Throth Paranormal Research and Discussion

Skepticator – Skeptical Content For Everyone

NewsPlurk United States News & Search Aggregator

Google News – Top stories

NewsDay –A Florida publication

 Bulldada Newsblog – The High Weirdness Project

Twitter – By Free Psychic

India Times online publication

The Cult News Networkonline publication

News Feed Research – More than just a news feed

PetShipper - Welcome to Pet Shipper Pet Transport, Animal Travel, the Pet Travel Directory. Pet Air Travel Advice. Pet Shipping Agents, Pet Transport.

Pet Lolled net articles

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