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What Is An Ordained Animal Chaplain – And What Is Their Role In Animal Rights VS Animal Welfare?

Written by: Rev Kaleel Sakakeeny, Executive Contributor

Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.

Executive Contributor Rev Kaleel Sakakeeny

Animal Chaplaincy is a deep commitment to minister to the abused, abandoned and brutalized animals of the world, here at home and in faraway places.

two dogs in cage during daytime

Animal Chaplains (in my case also as an ordained pastor and grief/loss counselor), and our peer support groups work tirelessly to ensure our animal companions, wild and domesticated, have agreed to spend their lives in zoos, in slaughterhouses, on lab tables, hunted and eaten.

Or even to be taken in as pets.

This is Animal Rights vs Animal Welfare.

It’s the passionate advocacy of the “personhood”of animals, their rights as divine beings to be given a say in their destinies. No less than those of humans!

Animal Welfare, about which we hear so much, is nothing more than advocating less painful, more humane ways for sentient, loving, caring animals to be slaughtered, or experimented upon in repetitive, irrelevant and cruel experiments in labs around the world.

It misses the point entirely!

A curved wall to reduce the panic of cattle about to have their throats slit, does nothing to end the slaughter.

Animal Chaplains stand with this minister who gave up her traditional church and title and congregation to become an Eco Minister, which in my opinion, is part of a trail-blazing shift in ministry.

I lost her name, but not her thoughts.

She said…

I heard an urgent call to be present to Mother Earth, and I believe that this call is a call to be an Eco Minister. In my heart I know that sitting at the Earth’s bedside, caring for her, showing up, being present, holding silence, and listening… this is what I need to do."

Here is the call I heard:

“Now is the Time to minister to the planet and all that she holds in love.”

And then I heard the wise words of Dr. Jessica Pierce, as she spoke of a new kind of grief, Ecological Mourning.”

“How do you grieve for someone, when that someone is not an identifiable person, but a broken ecosystem, vanishing birdsong, a demolished forest, a destroyed way of life?"

The answers are tremendously important as we speed mindlessly along our current trajectory toward an increasingly vulnerable and pained planet.

Once familiar animals no longer traipse through our yards, and the birdsongs of our childhood have gone quiet. Species disappear, and London’s sparrows become fewer and fewer. Our landscapes are degraded and the extinction of wildlife triggers feelings of panic and foreboding that cast a shadow on otherwise joyful playtime with our children.

Animal Ministry, as I practice it, is a sacred calling, not in and of itself, but because it’s the long, arduous journey of opening hearts and minds.

We minister where there was no ministry.

We extend open arms to god’s special beings, winged, finned, four footed gifts- where they are most represented on menus, and left behind in backyards or as over-fed, costumed pets, denied their natural gifts of being animals.

I believe that the new and emerging role of ordained Animal Chaplaincy is a powerful, critical one that effectively proclaims the beginning of the end of the false and degrading idea of “ Human Superiority,” of Speciesism

I predict, as we become more and more aware of the deep feelings, the beauty, consciousness, wisdom, grace of animals, we will see they are as deserving of pastoral care and support as much as if not more than human beings.

In 50 or so years, I believe, for example, that the idea of eating dead animals will be considered barbaric.

Finally, In this Anthropocene age, I pray our value and worth as humans will no longer be measured by how high our buildings are, how mighty our weapons, how wealthy our accounts or our how smart or artistic or inventive or technologically advanced we are—but how compassionate and loving we are toward all creation.

We can always do more and we must.

Current and future generations will surely be grateful for this ministry. is a Boston-based nonprofit dedicated to helping all who are grieving the death of a pet. And in a larger sense, promoting Animal Rights.

We welcome urgently needed, tax-deductible donations. Please, donate directly on our site.

We welcome volunteers and interns to our mission.

Follow me on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and visit my website for more info!

Rev Kaleel Sakakeeny Brainz Magazine

Rev Kaleel Sakakeeny, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine

Kaleel (Rev K) is one of the country's few ordained Animal Chaplains, nondenominational Pastoral Counselors and Credentialed Pet Loss and Grief Counselors. His work in the field of Loss and Grief, especially Pet Loss and Grief, has earned him recognition from The Washington Post, People Magazine, New York Times and other media. He is a “thought leader” in the emerging field of the animal-human bond studies, and a practicing therapist.



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