Page 54

MOTIVATE photos by Karen Snook

The Gentle BarN

To rescue, rehabilitate, and give sanctuary to abused animals The American Dog reports

The Gentle Barn is a delightful place to visit where you may feed a pig, pet a goat, and hug a cow if you happen to be in Santa Clarita, California, on any given Sunday. The sanctuary, founded in 1999 by Ellie Laks and currently co-directed by Ellie and her husband Jay Weiner, is devoted to the healing and recuperation of neglected and abused animals. Once healed and acclimated to their loving surroundings, the animals facilitate that same healing for children in need. By connecting with these animals, the kids learn a unique kindness and respect for living creatures. Both Ellie and Jay wanted to give something back to animals because it was the animals who had always been there for each of them throughout the trials of growing up. In December 2010, an animal shelter in Cadis, Ohio, was in desperate need of funds and was overrun with seemingly unwanted dogs, so The Gentle Barn decided to lend a hand. “Unlike most of the shelters across America who suffer from pet overpopulation and the

need to put dogs down to make room, this shelter was causing dogs to suffer because of money issues and structural issues. We knew we could help restructure their facility to create indoor runs and save not only the immediate dogs but dogs for the rest of time,” explains Ellie. They’ve placed over 60 dogs in forever homes and taught the warden how to network with other rescues and volunteers. Since then, the shelter has not had to euthanize any dogs. They also removed the shelter’s gas chamber. “Animals have no voice and they deserve one,” says Ellie. “Animals are far more wise and wonderful than most people see. Animals saved me when I was a child and I want to give my life to them now so they may be saved.” And that is exactly what Ellie, Jay, and the volunteers at The Gentle Farm do on a regular basis. One rescue stands out vividly for Ellie: a hoarding situation in Lancaster, California three years ago. They helped save about 200 farm

54    Fall 2011 | The American Dog Magazine

animals, 200 dogs, and 40 cats. Ellie says that though it was the longest, hardest 10 months of their lives, after the animals were all safe and in loving homes, it was well worth it. “As a nation, we don’t all have to do huge heroic acts, if we all just be kind to those in front of us it would be a better place for all of us! Thanks for your support. We can’t do our wonderful work without people helping us!” The Gentle Barn is so inspiring, they were even featured on the Ellen Degeneres Show. You can visit their sanctuary on Sundays to meet the animals or visit their website,, to watch the clip and to learn more about this wonderful sanctuary.

For more information or to make a donation: The Gentle Barn 15825 Sierra Highway Santa Clarita, CA 91390 (661) 252-2440

Profile for The American Dog Magazine