Part I: Ellie Laks, The Gentle Barn
Ellie Laks founded The Gentle Barn in Tarzana in 1999; it was a dream of hers since she was seven years old. Animals were always very healing and nurturing to her as she faced the challenges of growing up, finding herself, fitting in, feeling understood, etc. She majored in special education and psychology, and with her special love of animals and children, The Gentle Barn was a perfect way of putting all her talents and passions into one.
Jay Weiner joined The Gentle Barn in 2002 as a volunteer, but fell in love with the place and the two joined forces to heal even more children and animals. Like Ellie, Jay also turned to animals for the support, love and nurturing he needed as a child.
The Gentle Barn started on a half-acre property in the middle of the San Fernando Valley, CA. In 2003 Ellie and Jay moved The Gentle Barn moved to a six-acre paradise in Santa Clarita, CA. The property is complete with large horse and cow pastures, a red and white barnyard for the smaller animals, an organic vegetable garden, lots of shade trees, and a panoramic view of gorgeous mountains. Our over one hundred and seventy rescued animals are safe and happy at The Gentle Barn, and there is plenty of room to welcome our visitors and the children we host.
The ultimate goal is to open Gentle Barn’s across the country so that every animal and child can have a place of healing and safety and where they can be seen for the perfect beings that they are. Since its inception, The Gentle Barn has been home to hundreds of animals and host to over 400,000 people.
Part II: Kim Sturla, Animal Place
Kim Sturla is the Executive Director of Animal Place and co-founded the sanctuary in 1989. She has been a central figure in the animal rights movement for 30 plus years. Sturla wrote the first law in the country that protects pre-university students unwilling to participate in animal dissections. For more than a decade, she served as director of the Peninsula Humane Society. Kim is the resident Pig Whisperer, able to communicate beautifully with even the wiliest of pigs! She shares her home and life with dogs Ralph, Marty, and Sally.