About SoulPaws





Reconnect to Recover: At its core, an eating disorder is a disease of disconnection—we disconnect from ourselves, from others, and from the present moment. Through animal-assisted therapy, as well as other therapies (yoga, journaling, art therapy), SoulPaws aims to create a pack of recovery and love that will remind us, particularly on the days we want to isolate, that we are never alone.

Eating disorders are complex, biologically-influenced disorders, often triggered by trauma. Anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder and other types of eating disorders offer an illusory sense of protection—a temporary shield from pain and discomfort. This shield feels like it is protecting us, when in reality, we are being crushed under it’s weight.

To drop the shield means to get uncomfortable, and to engage in the most challenging work of our lives. The work of eating disorder recovery is all about learning how to feel love and pain head-on. Learning how to be a good friend to ourselves. Learning how to distance ourselves from eating disordered thoughts and form a more intimate relationship with our own soul.

We’re not meant to do this work alone. We need help. And SoulPaws is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization created to offer you that support, in both human and animal form.

Join us!



Eating disorders, which have the highest mortality rate of any mental illness, impact more than thirty million Americans of all ages and backgrounds. Yet nine out of ten people struggling with clinically significant eating disorders never ask for help. Why?

1) Eating disorder treatment is costly and therefore inaccessible to the average American.

2) Eating disorders thrive in shame and isolation, making it difficult for sufferers to honestly share about the struggle.

SoulPaws is a 501C3 nonprofit organization dedicated to offering holistic and therapeutic support to sufferers of eating disorders, while also rescuing shelter animals. Our programming includes free animal-assisted therapy (utilizing certified therapy dogs and rescue animals), journaling therapy, meditation, yoga, art therapy, and more.

By creating a free and easily accessible therapeutic community, SoulPaws directly combats the shame and secrecy so inherent in anorexia, bulimia, binge-eating disorder, and OSFED.  Together, we can practice feeling what we feel and letting it be, just as animals naturally do in every moment of their lives.

*SoulPaws supports World Eating Disorders Action Day, and actively promotes the Nine Truths About Eating Disorders. SoulPaws is not intended to replace therapeutic and psychiatric interventions, but rather, to complement these approaches and enhance a person’s recovery.

Additionally, SoulPaws passionately supports Project Heal, which provides scholarships residential, partial hospitalization, and outpatient treatment!


Healing Through Animal-Assisted Therapy

Shannon Kopp and Dr. Annie Petersen created SoulPaws Workshops to provide free support and a sense of community to those suffering from eating disorders. Animals can help us to access a place of light-heartedness, inner-wisdom, and compassion deep inside. Studies show that time spent with animals not only improves our physical health, but our mental and emotional well-being.

Each SoulPaws Workshop can utilize a variety of service animals, including dogs, puppies, miniature horses, guinea pigs, rabbits, birds, and more. Workshops are offered in-person at the San Diego Humane Society (Gaines Campus), as well as online. Each workshop involves meditation, human-animal connection, journaling on recovery-oriented topics, and optional sharing.


In-Person SoulPaws Workshop:

When: Saturday, March 25, 2017 | 1 – 2 p.m.

Where: San Diego Humane Society – 5500 Gaines St. San Diego, CA 92101

No RSVP necessary! If you are younger than 18-years-old, please bring a guardian to sign initial paperwork. We hope to see you there! 

Check out our blog from our last workshop!

Online SoulPaws Workshops:

Online SoulPaws Workshops are similar to the live workshops we offer at the San Diego Humane Society, except you can participate from the comfort in your own home, and with your animal. If you do not have a pet, you can still join in and see the many other participants and their pets online!

When: Details coming soon!

Where: Email SoulPaws for login instructions at


Journaling Workshops:


Using guided meditation and writing prompts, Shannon leads free online journaling therapy workshops! Whether you are a new or experienced writer, journaling therapy is a form of self-expression that can lead to increased awareness, insight, and compassion. This is not an eating disorder recovery specific group, though it is a great form of self-care for anyone struggling with mental health and addiction issues.

When: Details coming soon!



Shannon Kopp

Dr. Annie Petersen is the Founder and President of the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies. She was previously the Education Manager for the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA and has worked in the fields of education, early childhood development and animal welfare for over 30 years.

As President and CEO of the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies, Dr. Petersen is responsible for program development, curriculum writing, grant writing and research. Her duties include coordination of Critter Companions and Peace in Pairs programming, research development, and seeking out partnerships with other nonprofit organizations. She has also presented to people of many nationalities and most recently presented her findings from the study, The effects of experiences with animals on the reading comprehension skills of students in the seventh grade, at the University of Vienna, Austria.

Prior to her work with the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies, Dr. Petersen was the Education Manager for the San Diego Humane Society and SPCA, developing and implementing new education programs for the community of San Diego. She has held faculty positions in the Grossmont-Cuyamaca Community College District, has worked in the education departments of San Diego Zoo Global and the San Diego Museum of Man, and was the Assistant Director for College Center Montessori School in San Diego, CA.

Dr. Petersen earned her Doctor of Educational Leadership and Management degree from Alliant International University. She holds an MA in Education, a BA in Liberal Arts from National University and an AS in Early Childhood Development from Grossmont College, El Cajon, CA.


Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies    

Located in San Diego county, the Association for Human-Animal Bond Studies Explores the Connectedness between People and Animals.  The Association conducts educational research into the effects that experiences with animals may have on people in varying environments. This may includes victims of assault as they testify in court, students in learning environments and patients in healthcare environments.  We conduct programs with animals that impact human learning, as well as physical and mental wellbeing through our Critter Companions humane education classes and our Animal-Assisted Therapy Peace in Pairs program.

San Diego Humane Society 

Serving San Diego County since 1880, San Diego Humane Society operates campuses in San Diego, Escondido, and Oceanside.

They provide vital services to animals and people by sheltering and adopting animals, providing positive reinforcement training classes, investigating animal cruelty and neglect, presenting education programs for youth and adults, and much more.

San Diego Humane Society receives no government funding and is supported solely by contributions, grants, bequests, investments, proceeds from our retail store, and small fees for services.