the kind life

The Gentle Barn: ‘We Never Give Up On an Animal’

Ellie Laks, founder Gentle Barn

The Gentle Barn is a national nonprofit organization, located in California, Tennessee, Missouri, and soon in New York, that rescues animals from severe abuse and neglect, gives them sanctuary, and when they are ready, partners with them to open the hearts of humanity to their intelligence, affection, and magic. 

We are currently home to over two hundred rescued animals, including horses, cows, donkeys, pigs, sheep, goats, chickens, turkeys, llamas, emus, and dogs. To date, we have hosted more than 750,000 guests. We are open to the public on Sundays and offer private tours, school field trips, and our legendary Cow Hug Therapy sessions during the week. 

Like most children, I was born an animal lover, and at the age of eleven met a chicken for the first time and learned what a plate of chicken and rice really was. I have been a vegetarian since then. As a young adult, I found out the truth about the dairy, egg, and honey industries and went vegan. I believe that, like me, most people identify as animal lovers but are ignorant about the truth of who they are eating. My husband Jay and I have dedicated our lives to creating space for people to hug cows, cuddle turkeys, hold chickens, give pigs belly rubs, hear the animals’ stories of resilience, and gently evolve to a vegan way of life to truly help all animals. 

We specifically take in animals who have nowhere else to go because they are too old, sick, lame, or scared to be adopted. Most of our animals need ongoing care for the rest of their lives. To heal them, we use acupuncture, massage therapy, chiropractic, energetic healing, music therapy, nutritional supplements, holding therapy, and lots of love. We never give up on an animal and give them as much time as they need to heal physically and emotionally, even if it takes years. As they recover mentally and learn to trust us, we sit with them for hours each day and sing to them, meditate with them, and read out loud to them. We do whatever it takes to show them that humans can be kind and the world can be good. 

We have assisted animals when they have given birth, we have reassured animals when they transition, we have helped terrified animals trust, and we have saved animals from unimaginable trauma and set them free to live together and be undisturbed by humans. We have saved animals from all over the country, including calves from veal crates in Texas, over sixty dogs from a pound in Ohio, carriage horses from New York, and hundreds of goats from a backyard butcher who took months to recover and eventually turned into cuddly puppies. 

Our mission is to get in front of as many people as we can to show them the beauty of animals and encourage empathy and action to help them. When we connect to animals and nature, we turn into protectors, and end up ultimately connecting to our own humanity. Please come visit us and find out more through our website.  My book, My Gentle Barn, Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope, can be purchased on Amazon and anywhere books are sold.  


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