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Caucus gives Gentle recognition

Local animal rescue acknowledged by California Legislature for community service

Posted: June 25, 2010 9:33 p.m.
Updated: June 26, 2010 4:30 a.m.

The efforts of Ellie Laks, who founded The Gentle Barn Foundation animal rescue in Saugus, were recognized by Cameron Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, on behalf of the California Legislature’s Animal Protection Caucus for her service to the community. The barn is currently trying to raise $100,000, which will be matched by a private donor, to help take i...

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Cameron Smyth hugged cows, petted pigs and buddied up with sheep Friday. One particularly friendly sheep named Stanley even tried to snack on the framed certificate the assemblyman was handing over.

On behalf of the California Legislature’s Animal Protection Caucus, Smyth, R-Santa Clarita, presented The Gentle Barn Foundation with an Assembly resolution to thank it for service to the community.

The foundation was started a little more than a decade ago by animal lover Ellie Laks. Her mission is to rescue and rehabilitate severely abused animals.

Smyth, who co-founded the Animal Protection Caucus, first came to The Gentle Barn in Saugus for his son’s fourth birthday party and said it was an amazing experience for the kids. He wanted the animal-rescue facility to know it has the support of the caucus.

“We are here to help and battle for what is right with the animals,” Smyth said.

Laks founded The Gentle Barn because she has dreamed of working with animals since she was 7 years old.

“I was one of those kids who would always bring animals home. My parents weren’t amused,” Laks said.

Now she takes in all the animals she wants. In fact, The Gentle Barn has rescued more than 120 animals. 

“For me, it’s all I ever wanted my whole life,” Laks said. “To get to this point where financially we’re able to feed the animals and have Cameron Smyth come and acknowledge our work — it’s surreal.” The Gentle Barn’s latest project has been raising $100,000 that will be matched by a private donor to take in 60 dairy cows. The cows, most of them pregnant, are from a farm that recently closed; the animals were so malnourished even the slaughter house wouldn’t take them.

The foundation just met its goal and will start building new barns to house the expectant cows soon.

Laks and other workers at The Gentle Barn not only help nurture animals back to health, but also work with at-risk and special-needs kids. 

“We want to raise awareness of the healing animals can bring into people’s lives,” said The Gentle Barn President Jay Weiner, who is Laks’ husband.

Being with the animals “totally opens up their hearts. It’s a miracle every time to watch,” Laks said.

Community support has made The Gentle Barn’s efforts possible, she said.

“I feel so loved and supported by the community. Now with the support we have, there is nothing we can’t do.”

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