Ellie Laks–the founder of The Gentle Barn, a Southern California sanctuary of sorts that houses 130+ animals that have been rescued from abuse, neglect or slaughter…once they’ve recovered, the animals are visited and often cared for by abused children–recounts her own childhood of frequently coming to the aid of injured or sick animals, bringing them home and often clashing with her parents about the parade of critters.
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In fact, she remembers a tantrum as a seven-year-old where she pledged that one day she’d have a big place of her own where she could look after a bunch of animals. Fast forward to adulthood and the beginning of The Gentle Barn, when she rescued a neglected goat from a petting zoo that involved planting herself there for 12 days straight, until they relinquished the goat. That goat and other animals lived in the back yard of her house in Tarzana–and right away, Laks got underprivileged and abused kids interacting with these animals. Now, The Gentle Barn sits on a six-acre parcel in Santa Clarita, CA, where the animals (horses, donkeys, cows, pigs, sheep, goats, turkeys, chickens, dogs and cats) are visited and tended to by kids in foster care, on probation, in gangs, from the inner city, as well as special needs children and adults. Tremendous healing takes places, in all directions. Laks also addresses plans to open additional locations of The Gentle Barn, possibly launch a reality series at the facility in collaboration with Ellen DeGeneres, and more. (http://www.GentleBarn.org)
ALSO: We had a brief conversation with Twila Cole, Director of Development, Events and Community Relations at the Humane Society of Pinellas County, about the organization’s then-forthcoming Mutt Strut to be held on St. Patrick’s Day, marking the 20th year of the event. (www.humanesocietyofpinellas.org)
COMEDY CORNER: Jerry Seinfeld’s “Horses” (portion) (www.JerrySeinfeld.com)
MUSIC: Johnny Cakes and The Four Horsemen of The Apocalypso “The Donkey Song,” Tribal Style’s version of “Like A Lion In The Morning,” instrumentals
NAME THAT ANIMAL TUNE: The Pixies’ “Monkey Gone To Heaven”