VOA TV: The Gentle Barn Foundation – A Shelter for Abused Animals

Ellie Laks started the Gentle Barn Foundation in California. Her group gives a home to animals it rescued from abuse or in need of care. When recovered, the animals spend time with troubled young people and disabled adults.

ANA GOLDBACH: “I’ve been here for a while.”

Ana Goldbach comes to the Gentle Barn once a week. Caring for animals is said to help people deal with their own problems. Often, the animals get months of special care before they can work with people.

ELLIE LAKS: “This place doesn’t work by just hugging cute animals. It’s the at-risk kids that have been through abuse and neglect and hardship and being misunderstood. When they come face-to-face with an animal that has the exact same story, that’s the healing element. That’s where a kid goes, ‘Wow! I’m not alone. There’s someone else that shares my story. And, if this animal can overcome and is safe here, then I can overcome and be safe in the world.’ So it’s the stories that are healing.”

Laks says her volunteers help educate people about abused animals.

ELLIE LAKS: “And they do so many things. We really count on them for so much. Like I said, all the horses are groomed at 10 o’clock every day. So we’ve got volunteers that come in and groom the horses. We have volunteers that come and take the animals for walks and to eat grass. When we have a special rescue, the animal needs supervision or company we have volunteers that come and supervise that animal, sometimes ’round-the-clock, all through the night.”

Janet Becht began volunteering at the Gentle Barn a year ago.

JANET BECHT: “And it was my birthday. And, I said I’m going to do something special on my birthday. I’m finally going to go. And I didn’t know where it was. It was four miles from my house. So it was very close, and I don’t know, I just never saw anything like this and fell in love with the horses. They scare me, they did. They don’t scare me so much anymore.”

Donations support the work of the Gentle Barn. Ellie Laks hopes to start Gentle Barns across the country so other people can have contact with animals and experience the healing. I’m Barbara Klein.