My Gentle Barn: Creating a Sanctuary Where Animals Heal and Children Learn to Hope
Author: Ellie Laks · Subject: Rescues & Sanctuaries
Founder Ellie Laks started The Gentle Barn after adopting a sick goat from a run-down petting zoo in 1999. Some two hundred animals later (including chickens, horses, pigs, cows, rabbits, emus, and more), The Gentle Barn has become an extraordinary nonprofit that brings together a volunteer staff of community members and at-risk teens to rehabilitate abandoned and/or abused animals. As Ellie teaches the volunteers to care for the animals, they learn a new language of healing that works wonders on the humans as well.
My Gentle Barn weaves together the story of how the Barn came to be what it is today with Ellie’s own journey. Filled with heartwarming animal stories and inspiring recoveries, My Gentle Barn is a feel-good account that will delight animal lovers and memoir readers alike.
About the Author
Ellie Laks has always loved animals and from the time she could walk she headed into the woods daily to be with them, sometimes bringing them home—much to her parents’ chagrin. In 1999, Ellie founded The Gentle Barn, an animal sanctuary that rescues and rehabilitates severely abused and neglected farm animals. Once the animals are healthy, they help Ellie heal at-risk inner-city and special-needs children. Ellie lives on the property outside of Los Angeles with her husband, who runs the Barn with her, and their three children.
“The saga of Laks and her animal sanctuary is enormously compelling. She grew up loving animals in a family that could not understand her empathy for “disposable pets.” Struggling to find her way, she fought drug addiction and then successfully started a dog-rescue operation in her spare bedroom. Determined to change the world, Laks rescued animals from a dilapidated petting zoo and then expanded to accept pigs, horses, and more on a multi-acre ranch outside Los Angeles. With brutal honesty, she acknowledges the missteps in her first marriage that became a casualty to her rescue efforts, but then she recounts the happiness she found with a volunteer who became her soul mate. The two found enormous personal and professional success as they reached out to at-risk youth and became leading voices in the movement to extend rescue efforts to farm animals. Laks brings so much raw emotion to her narrative that readers will find themselves moved to tears over the lives of goats and cows. Intimate, powerful, and shocking in its revelations about the food we eat, My Gentle Barn is not easily forgotten. This is a book to talk about and return to; it’s a life changer, plain and simple.” – Colleen Mondor, Booklist
“My Gentle Barn is a wonderful book. You’ll love Ellie Laks and the animals she rescued–and who rescued her back.” –Sy Montgomery, author of The Good Good Pig