From the time she was a child, The Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks knew that her life's work would be to rescue animals.
In 1999, Ellie Laks made her dream a reality when she opened The Gentle Barn, a sanctuary for abused and neglected animals.
Now located on six acres in Santa Clarita, California, The Gentle Barn specializes in farm and ranch animals, although all species are welcome. There are more than 170 Gentle Barn residents, including cows, pigs, horses, llamas, goats, chickens, turkeys, donkeys, sheep, dogs, and peacocks.
Each Gentle Barn resident has a unique story, from Addison, the abused donkey, to Bob, the rescued veal calf, to Krishna, the turkey who barely escaped Thanksgiving. The list is extensive, and ever-growing.
The Gentle Barn heals both animals and children. Once the organization was up and running, Laks reached out to the community, inviting groups of at-risk and special needs children out to The Gentle Barn to spend time caring for the animals.
The bonds between the children and the animal residents are mutually healing.
"I get to watch miracles every single day," Laks says.
Many of the animals that come to The Gentle Barn require extensive veterinary care, and each animal is a lifetime commitment. The Gentle Barn, which is open for tours, is a nonprofit organization and relies on the help of a dedicated team of volunteers, as well as donations and support from the public.
In 2015, The Gentle Barn expanded to include a facility in Knoxville, Tennessee. Laks hopes to continue to expand across the country, so that children and animals in need will always have a safe, healing place to go.
If you're interested in learning more about The Gentle Barn, you can check out the organization's official website, which includes information on the resident animals, visiting the facilities, and how you can help support the organization.
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