GivingAnimalVoice.org (GAV), a non-profit organization, was founded in 2021 to provide shelter animals access to professional animal communication services. 

In 2019, our founder, retired lawyer Denise Nestel, adopted Darby, a 13-month-old dog from a rescue. Unlike the previous 5 dogs she adopted over the years, this dog didn’t “settle” into its new home. Instead, he continued to exhibit high anxiety behaviors.  Efforts to alleviate his anxiety with training and various calming supplements had a nominal impact.  In 2020, Denise discovered the profession of animal communication when she saw a video of a professional animal communicator who asked animals questions posed by their humans and then conveyed the response to the humans. In each case, the communication benefitted both the animals and the humans. 

Based on that video, Denise hired professional animal communicators hoping to receive information that she could use to alleviate her dog’s anxiety. During the communication sessions, her dog revealed past experiences that “explained” his anxiety, including the lack of any opportunity to socialize with animals and people. That information led to intentional changes in their daily routines, trainers and training methods, and his diet, which significantly alleviated his anxiety.

Denise recognized the potential for communication to benefit animals in shelters. 

  • As an enrichment practice, animal communication has the potential to contribute to multiple enrichment goals such as cognitive stimulation, reduction in stress behaviors, improved behavioral and emotional health, allowing animals more control over their environment, and improved socialization.
  • Animal communication can obtain information that may not be available from any other source, which may prove useful to shelter staff in making decisions about care for those animals.
  • Animal communication also can improve the animal’s “adoptability” and its life after leaving the shelter by providing information useful in optimizing placement with compatible adopters.

She approached a rescue and shelter to see if each would be interested in participating in a pilot project to assess whether providing animal communication could improve the shelter animals’ well-being and could provide information that would be useful to shelter staff.  

Read about the pilot projects and results here.  Positive feedback from both pilot projects led to the creation of GAV.


GAV’s Purpose

  • Raise the awareness of shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries about the benefits of animal communication as an enrichment practice and as a source of useful information.
  • Conduct studies to collect data about the benefits of animal communication that can be aggregated and shared with other shelters, rescues, and animal welfare organizations.
  • Assist interested shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries in finding funding to provide animal communication.
  • Assist shelters, rescues, and sanctuaries in connecting with animal communicators.


Why GAV is Needed

For decades professional animal communicators have provided their services to private clients, typically to communicate with their pets or animals in their care. While the exact topics and questions vary depending on the needs of the humans and animals, virtually all focus on improving their animals’ lives and the relationships between the animals and their humans.  An internet search for animal communicators reveals countless websites of private practitioners. Virtually all include testimonials that illustrate a broad range of positive results from those communications.  

Given the benefits of communication to private clients and their pets, GAV asked why shelters don’t offer communication. Two major reasons seem to be:

1) shelter management may not be aware of animal communication and the potential benefits to animals and shelters, and

2) even if they did know of the benefits, they don’t have funding to compensate the professional communicators. 

GAV believes that collecting and sharing data on the potential for animal communications to positively impact the animals and the shelters is the key to raising shelter awareness and to obtaining funding.