Nels Rasmussen on Dec. 20 in Darrington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Nels Rasmussen on Dec. 20 in Darrington. (Olivia Vanni / The Herald)

Cease-and-desist letter doesn’t stop this ‘miracle’ pet healer

Nels Rasmussen claims he can heal pets from thousands of miles away. After state officials learned he called himself “Dr. Nels,” he rebranded.

DARRINGTON — Do you or a loved one have a distressed dog or cat?

Is your pet suffering from appetite loss, separation anxiety or poor digestion? Chronic mobility issues? Paralysis?

A Darrington man says he has the answer to help your furry friends lead happier lives by balancing minds, bodies and spirits. Nels Rasmussen claims he can heal animals from thousands of miles away.

Earlier this year, the state Department of Health took notice of the former chiropractor, who advertised himself as “Dr. Nels,” though he does not have a license to practice as an animal doctor. The state ordered Rasmussen to cease and desist from “any and all conduct constituting the practice of veterinary medicine.”

Rasmussen, 75, agreed to stop.

Yet he still offered pet healing services on his website this week. He only accepts payment to treat pets of association members, who must pay a one-time fee of $10, he told The Daily Herald. He believes the system will allow him to stay in business.

As of December, his association had 17 members, he said.

Charlie Powell, a spokesperson for the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine, said he’s not familiar with Rasmussen, but that people should be wary of unlicensed health care providers, both for humans and animals.

“There’s a reason that veterinarians and all other health care providers need to go through rigorous training, national board examinations and then seek credentials before they practice,” Powell said. “That reason is to ensure the public is protected from harm and harm to their animals, as well as protected from charlatanism.”

Powell urged pet owners to be cautious when going to unlicensed care providers. He said people should loop in their regular veterinarian if they choose to seek this type of care.

“We could not recommend going to an individual like that for care for your animal, as a college of veterinary medicine,” Powell said.

Rasmussen said his desire to do chiropractic work began when he was an 8-year-old school boy.

“My first I guess you could say ‘subjects,’ when I was in chiropractor college, were my wife’s English pointers,” Rasmussen said between bites of his sandwich at a Darrington coffee shop. “I was adjusting dogs before I was adjusting people.”

Rasmussen started the Healing Ministry for Animals in 2016.

“People have called me a miracle worker,” Rasmussen wrote on his website, “and I appreciate the sentiment, but I prefer to think of myself as a life-energy scientist.”

He does video call sessions with clients in other states.

“I have them with their animal in front of their camera,” he said. “I guide them to touch the points. It’s hard to explain. In fact, I don’t know if it’s possible to explain how it is I know where those points are. But I function as if I have the animal with me.”

Rasmussen said he charges about $700 for four 30-minute sessions. He asks clients to pay half up front, and to only pay the other half if his services work.

“I don’t want people to pay for something that’s worthless,” he said.

A YouTube channel with dozens of videos showcases before-and-after stories of injured or anxious animals.

One is titled, “Overweight dachshund couldn’t walk. Spiritual healing reconnected body, mind and spirit. Just watch!” It tells the story of Peanut the dachshund. The dog’s owner relates how a friend referred her to Rasmussen.

Nels Rasmussen works to “reconnect the body-mind-spirit” of an overweight dachschund who had trouble walking. (Nels Rasmussen/YouTube)

Nels Rasmussen works to “reconnect the body-mind-spirit” of an overweight dachschund who had trouble walking. (Nels Rasmussen/YouTube)

Ominous music plays as the caramel-colored pup struggles to balance, dragging his hind legs through the wet grass.

“There were a couple days where he couldn’t pee,” Peanut’s owner, of Darrington, says in the video. “In my panic, I saw myself having to take him to be put down, because I did not have the money for surgery.”

Then Rasmussen begins his treatment, prodding the side of the dog’s body. The music switches to a major key.

“Watch for the yawn as his system resets,” a caption reads.

Another caption: “Rasmussen demonstrates how to reconnect Peanut’s body-mind-spirit.”

Uplifting music continues as a montage shows Peanut stumbling at five days after his first session; waddling a bit steadier at two weeks; then frolicking in the lawn at 11 months.

“WHEN NOTHING ELSE HAS WORKED,” reads the closing title screen, in a big heart.

Internet archives show that sometime in the past three years, the Healing Ministry for Animals website was updated with a disclaimer explicitly saying Rasmussen is not a veterinarian and doesn’t make diagnoses or treat conditions.

He “believes that his work supports good medical care,” the website now reads. “It doesn’t replace it.”

However, the website also indicates his services have helped animals’ medical conditions.

“The standouts are paralysis, chronic health or mobility issues, and anxiety type symptoms like loss of appetite/poor digestion, separation anxiety and fear of loud noises,” the website reads.

Online archives also show Rasmussen advertised his business as “Dr. Nels’ Healing Ministry for Animals, Veterinary Medicine and Paralyzed Dogs and Cats” at least until 2018. Before the site was updated, it said Rasmussen had received “referrals from local veterinarians when cases defy diagnoses or seem to have a neurological or energy problem involved.”

“These would be cases with hind-end weakness, chronic limping or paralysis of a dog or cat,” Rasmussen wrote, “and they haven’t responded to the traditional medical approach.”

Any local veterinarians who made referrals aren’t named.

According to the website, Rasmussen retired from practicing as a chiropractor in 2016 to “pursue his spiritual reconnection for pets and people full-time.

State records show Rasmussen agreed to surrender his chiropractor license that year while facing investigation. According to allegations by the state Department of Health, in 2012 and 2013, Rasmussen did not meet the standard of care for five patients by failing to keep required documentation during visits.

“What can I say?” Rasmussen said. “That’s what they say. I didn’t feel like my records were inadequate.”

Rasmussen did not admit to the allegations, but in agreeing to stop working as a chiropractor, he avoided any disciplinary action.

Over the years that followed, he embraced a persona as a healer for the animal kingdom.

The state health department announced in a public press release in October that Rasmussen agreed to “permanently cease and desist” veterinary practice, unless he gets proper credentials. He “advertised animal healing services, and received pay for treating a horse, but has no veterinarian credential,” the announcement read.

Reached by email months ago, Rasmussen denied The Herald’s request for comment.

“My wife says that it’s better to let it go,” he wrote.

He agreed to an interview in December.

Martha Norwalk, an animal behaviorist who works with Nels Rasmussen, helps a young corgi who refused to walk on a leash. (Nels Rasmussen/YouTube)

Martha Norwalk, an animal behaviorist who works with Nels Rasmussen, helps a young corgi who refused to walk on a leash. (Nels Rasmussen/YouTube)

Rasmussen said his lawyer told him a local veterinarian reported him to the Department of Health.

“I get it if somebody thought I was stepping on their toes,” Rasmussen said, adding that he does not want to be, or pretend to be, a veterinarian.

On his LinkedIn page, Rasmussen lists one certification, in “Elite Master Bio-Energetic Synchronization Technique.”

Rasmussen claims he has helped upwards of 50 animals in his life. He said he’s mainly treated cats and dogs. He has helped a couple cows, as a favor to friends, he said, adding that he doesn’t want to be known as a “cow doctor.”

“I’m not for everybody,” Rasmussen said. “Not everybody’s into this spiritual stuff.”

Ellen Dennis: 425-339-3486;; Twitter: @reporterellen.

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