Ellie Laks, founder of The Gentle Barn

Gentle-Barn

Ellie Laks —the founder of The Gentle Barn, a Southern California sanctuary that houses more than 170 animals that have been rescued from abuse, neglect or slaughter—discusses the ideas and impulses that propelled her to create the facility, some of which can be traced back to dreams she had as a self-described stubborn seven-year-old. TheGentleBarnLaks explains how Mary the goat, and later, other “decrepit” animals from a petting zoo became the founding critters of The Gentle Barn. From the moment Laks conceived The Gentle Barn, a key component, along with providing refuge for animals facing those challenges, was—in one of those powerful instances of two-way healing—those animals are visited, and often cared for, by inner city, at-risk, and special needs children. She recounts a story involving one of the first groups of such children to visit The Gentle Barn, where not long after arriving a kid threw a rockstill0930_00028 at a spider, Laks had a conversation with the boy (who was angry and hurt, from years of difficult foster care), and the boy spent the rest of the day as chief protector of the Barn animals—a profound experience that Laks guesses may have influenced him for years. With The Gentle Barn now in its 18th year, Laks surveys the notable ways the facility has evolved and changed, detailing the unusual protocol of care their animals receive and how, consequently, those animals live typically live well beyond the normal life expectancy. Noting that she opened a second Gentle Barn location in Knoxville, TN nearly two years ago, Laks outlines her goal to open a Gentle Barn in every state in America, and responds to concerns I raise about such an ambitious undertaking. (www.gentlebarn.org)

 

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ALSO: I spoke briefly with journalist Bronwen Dickey, author of “Pit Bull: The Battle Over An American Icon,” a widely—and wildly—acclaimed book, now out in paperback. (www.bronwendickey.com)

 

 

 

COMEDY CORNER: Kevin Nealon’s “Cows On The Roof” (http://kevinnealon.com)

MUSIC: Rebekah Pulley’s “Talking Animals Theme,” instrumentals

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About the author
Duncan Strauss is the producer-host of “Talking Animals,” which he launched at KUCI in California in 2003, combining his passions for animals, radio, journalism, music and comedy. The show has aired since late 2005 on Tampa’s WMNF. Strauss lives in Jupiter Farms, FL with his family, including four cats, two horses and one dog. He spends each day talking to those animals, and maintains they talk right back to him, an as yet unverified claim.

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