Pet Sounds

Animal psychic Sonya Fitzpatrick hears voices - the dog and cat kind.

As Fitzpatrick became more comfortable with her long-forgotten ability that, according to her, is something "you're born with," she turned her fledgling Sonya of London etiquette parlor into a $120-an-hour, pet-communicating hotbed. However, it wasn't until she published her first book, in 2003, The Pet Psychic: What the Animals Tell Me, that she landed talk-show spots on The Oprah Winfrey Show, a spread in People and her own show on Animal Planet.

Fitzpatrick, who's currently working on a fourth book, one that will inform readers about animal reincarnation and what deceased animals are up to in the hereafter, shares Sirius XM airtime with Dr. Martin Goldstein, a.k.a. Dr. Marty, who begins a phone interview with the Houston Press by impersonating a confused, elderly woman. ("We don't take ourselves seriously around here," says Goldstein about himself and his team of alternative practitioners.) Together, Fitzpatrick and Goldstein are unquestioning believers that holistic-centric medicine — rather than traditional vaccines and commercial pet food, which the two believe cause fatal disease — can reverse cancer conditions and paralysis in animals.

Goldstein received a traditional veterinary education from Cornell University in the 1970s. Enticed by alt-methods, in part due to his own failing health, Goldstein discovered that naturally based treatments for animals, including Chinese acupuncture, were being taught underground.

Sonya Fitzpatrick's longtime client Helen Stroud says that other pet psychics employ fear tactics while communicating with animals.
Courtesy of Helen Stroud
Sonya Fitzpatrick's longtime client Helen Stroud says that other pet psychics employ fear tactics while communicating with animals.


Exclusive video of Sonya Fitzpatrick giving a reading of a dog.

"I came back to share [the knowledge] with my colleagues and got condemned from society," says Goldstein. "In those days, that was voodoo." Instead, he scurried deeper into the fringes and "worked one by one on hopeless, terminally ill animals, and sent them back into society."

After his license was nearly revoked, the renegade veterinarian published The Nature of Animal Healing: The Definitive Holistic Medicine Guide to Caring for Your Dog and Cat. The 1999 handbook chronicles his use of integrative medicine — a mixture of traditional and holistic methods — that Fitzpatrick and other pet psychics have adopted as their companion bible for animal therapy.

"It's been literally 30 years of struggle to get the truth out there that there's this thing called integrative medicine," says Goldstein, whose New York-based practice recently treated a dog that had been flown in from Fiji and a cat that was shipped from Egypt. "Some things are being done in conventional medicine every single day that are harming animals that are not needed."

Dr. M.A. Crist, a professor and veterinarian at Texas A&M, one of the world's most prestigious schools for animal medicine, definitely sides with clinically proven treatments that are based upon mountains of paperwork and countless in-depth studies. However, Crist, who also runs a practice in Houston, doesn't completely believe that animal communication is witchcraft, especially after four of her own clients consulted Fitzpatrick and reported positive results to Crist.

The vet explains that Fitzpatrick, whom she has never met, talked to one of the cats that had been to Crist's clinic for treatment. The animal apparently told Sonya that it had hurt feelings because certain doctors at Crist's office openly complained, in front of the cat, that the feline was too fat.

When Crist got wind of this, she remembers thinking, "Maybe there was some truth to that. It definitely got me to think that maybe I shouldn't say so much about weight in front of the animals."

It's feeding time at Fitzpatrick's house, and Sonya stands in her kitchen whipping up a lunch of rice, vegetables and afternoon tea for her animals.

"Oh, here's Sunshine!" exclaims Fitzpatrick as she places cups and saucers on the hardwood floor so that her pets, including her cat Sunshine, can drink English tea. "Come on, Sunshine darling. I didn't think it would be long before you came and showed yourself!"

Every day, Fitzpatrick prepares edibles such as codfish, sweet potatoes and cottage cheese for her seven cats and five dogs that live inside her Conroe house. She makes such a fuss over her pets' dining habits because she believes that traditional pet food is the cause of cancer. She also thinks that, aside from the government-required rabies shot, vaccinations are "killing our animals."

Says Fitzpatrick, "I'm always amazed at how many vets don't know about nutrition. They really don't. They're all about keeping them on Science Diet, which is terrible food."

Fitzpatrick's philosophies were partially triggered by Goldstein, who inspired her to discourage clients from giving their pets shots and feeding them commercial pet food. Goldstein says that this approach is based on his experiences in transitioning from a traditional animal doctor to a holistic vet.

"I have witnessed the incidence of cancer at least triple in my career. It's now becoming a disease of the young," says Goldstein. "We use things in veterinarian medicine to prevent disease that actually cause disease. When we go to school, we're not taught about health and the immune system. We're taught how to diagnose a disease and how to drug it."

Of course, traditionally trained animal doctors, such as Dr. Lori Teller of Houston's Meyerland Animal Clinic, think this philosophy is hogwash. Teller, a graduate of Texas A&M and a Texas Veterinary Medical Association-certified veterinarian, points to today's advanced field of animal medicine, where immunization schedules can be individualized to meet each animal's health needs. She adds that pet psychics who can't boast any type of veterinarian training are "reckless" to dissuade people from seeking vaccinations.

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Doggy Lama
Doggy Lama

Yes, I do become quite amused when some people are taken for a ride by Television Pastards. Basically, if people are willing to believe in television miracles, they deserve the consequences. Of course, I don't appreciate the elderly being a target of this recalcitrant behavior, but most others are fair game.

Psychics are no different. But, psychics for dogs? Come on.

I have been known to hand out business cards to pretentious psychological fucks at various mental health conferences to break the monotony of name tag examination. "Canine Hypnotherapy and Psychodrama" It is amusing to watch the contorted faces that follow.

If I were to open such a clinic, I could easily milk the patient owners. I could ask the owner to assist in obtaining an informed consent paw print. Then, I could ask them to leave the room. Confidentiality is very important. If the patient were to show no progress or regression, I could blame this on "resistance." I might do this. I could call myself a Specialist in Canine Psychotherapy.

Richard Doll
Richard Doll

Just proves again "There's a sucker born every minute", or "a fool and his (or her) money are soon parted". And to think she didn't even have to go to law school to swindle this amount of money!

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