I have been volunteering for the Gentle Barn in California weekly for 2 years and visited for 2 years as a guest prior to that. On top of that, I drive about an hour each way in Los Angeles traffic to get there and back. So obviously I have committed a lot of time and energy to this organization. I also work full time as a marketing director in the nonprofit industry. I wouldn't devote this much of my life to an organization I didn't believe in with all my heart. I love the animals and the people there, which is why I do that.
On top of that, I respect most of the ways they choose to run the place. No one, whether an organization or person, is perfect, and I understand that not everyone agrees with how one chooses to do things... there are things I might do differently in some cases. That's just life. But as someone who is intimately aware of the inner workings of this organization, they have nothing but the best intentions, and I truly respect and appreciate how they choose to approach saving animals, treating animals and people, and educating the public: gently. Everything is done gently and without judgement. A majority of the animals come from horrific situations, and they help these animals heal on their own time with respect, care and love. As volunteers, we discuss weekly the best and most gentle way to approach various situations we may encounter. We celebrate wonderful moments, and we truly care for the animals and people who come there - from staff to volunteers to guests.
As a marketing professional, I choose to actively follow their marketing outlets, which gives me a better and deeper understand for the inner workings and daily activity of the organization at all three locations. On top of the public guests who visit, they work with special needs children, as well as children from the inner city, giving them a different perspective of the world through the animals. They also give back to the inner city kids and their families during the holidays, and I was able to participate in this event this past year. This is all something truly needed in the world right now - teaching/showing kindness, compassion and gentleness - especially to kids who haven't been dealt the best hand in life.
In regards to the volunteer who commented about volunteering in Tennessee, the organization is on rented land at that location and is at capacity for the animals they can save. In fact, all the locations are at pretty full capacity, so while they can't regularly save animals, they do have a referral service for those who contact them. California sees guests in the hundreds each week for a location with more animals, so the fact that they do limit the guests who can attend is Tennessee shows that they are appreciative of guests versus number of animals.
As for Dudley, he truly changed the world for the better and made an impact on people around the world. If he was in pain, they did something about it. They spent a tremendous amount of time, money and energy caring for him, since he had special need with his prosthesis, and he was one of the most amazing, lively yet gentle animals the world has ever seen. He meant a lot to so many, including thousands who never even met him, including me, and we were heart broken when he unexpectedly passed away. I know that those who knew him intimately were completely devastated. The idea that they were raising money as a memorial to him to find a permanent location for his Tennessee family was the most beautiful and perfect tribute I could ever think of...
Thank you, Ellie, Jay, Kiera, Michelle, Andrea and so many others for devoting so much of your life to caring for these animals and children, educating the public, and teaching the world to be more gentle.
Review from Guidestar
I volunteered 4 times at the GB TN. I didn't feel right about it. They bring in 60 or people on a weekend for $20 each and they only have 20 animals. They do not actively rescue anything. They used poor Dudley to bring people in, yet he was suffering with a horrible ulcer. Then They raised all kinds of money when he died, even charging for his memorial. The founders prey off compassionate animal lovers. Please, everyone, do all your research on this place. There is now a GB page about them called Gentle Barn Concerns. Please read through all of it. There's many red flags about them. A good organization will always have a few bad apples reviewing them, but this one is extreme. They pull at your heartstrings with their rescue stories but take a deeper look. Please donate elsewhere. This place needs to be shut down. It's not right.
The Gentle Barn is a wonderful organization. The founders and staff truly love animals and have the experience to rescue and rehabilitate them while giving visitors a positive educational experience. I also love their programs for helping children through gentle interaction with the animals. The facilities are professionally and responsibly maintained giving maximum benefit to the animals. I am a supporter and enthusiastically recommend support of this organization without hesitation.
Review from Guidestar
Tired of rumors, I researched and they ARE BEING INVESTIGATED by the ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE as allegedly, the founder and her husband took money from the charity...
If you look at the public filings, they justify it by claiming they took no salary but what they spent on themselves far exceeded a salary according to the Attorney General who wouldn't be involved if it wasn't serious. Look it up! I heard they 'lawyered up' so it appears they are fighting the investigation.
It appears they didn't have a functioning board but formed one for the investigation but chased that board out (who wanted them to be accountable) and brought in their friends.
In my opinion, the whole thing is terrible and where there is smoke, there is fire. The AG office doesn't waste their time unless there is solid evidence.
The Gentle Barn are so great. I'm so happy that there is a place like this for animals to be rescues and rehabilitated. I have friends who volunteer there and have been there myself and just love it. Ellie is so kind, and I am enamored by how magnanimous the Gentle Barn is.
I've known about the Gentle Barn since 2001. I live in the area and run non-profit Animal Advocates. I've visited other farm rescues such as Farm Sanctuary Los Angeles. I also read their book "The Gentle Barn."
Few days ago the person who runs it posted she found a baby squirrel. She said she contacted all the wildlife rehabbers and they all told her to "just let it die." She then said "At Gentle Barn, no can do! Please, give us money to care for it."
I am the closest licensed wildlife rehabilitator to the Gentle Barn. She did not contact me. I offered to take it and no response. I emailed and posted. I have never ever told anyone to just let an animal die. All of her Facebook fans were saying "what horrible rehabbers!" "evil people!"
Then she posts another pic of the baby squirrel stating the wrong age, condition.... She obviously knows nothing about squirrels. She again asked for money for the baby. A baby squirrel would probably eat maybe $2 worth of food while one raised it for release.
I again offered to take it and told her one needs permits to have wildlife or else it's a felony. She then deletes my posts and bans me from the page. She then tells me she gave it to a licensed rehabber but would never say which one. I called them all. None of them were contacted by the Gentle Barn. I now believe there was never a baby squirrel ever just like there were never 60 cows needing rescue.
If you search Google for "Gentle Barn" and "squirrel," you will see a blog post with more information, photos, documentation of the many, many problems with this non-profit. They make up stories about fake animals that need donations for medical care, rescue. They live off the non-profit with three kids yet don't take a salary. Tax evasion? They raise money to build barns which they never built. They spent donations on an expensive wedding in Las Vegas. They are allowing animals to breed. They don't always give the animals proper care. If you question them, you will be banned from the property.
They are being investigated by the state Attorney General and the IRS. They were sued by two ex-employees. All of this is public information.
It breaks my heart when people put this magical place down. First most, not all, of the negative reviews have come from a group of ex-employees and volunteers that were not doing what was best for the barn and were asked to leave. Do you really want to read a review from someone who is only being vindictive? I have been volunteering at The Gentle Barn since April 2011. I volunteer in the upper barnyard during the week and as the manager on Sundays, as well as with new rescues and the cows. The experience has been nothing if not life changing. Ellie and Jay are two of the most caring, compassionate, giving people I have had the honor of knowing. The animals are well fed, well cared for, and very loved. They always have clean water, plenty of food, a clean place to sleep, plenty of love, and medical care when needed. When a sick animal is reported care is immediate and thorough. The vet comes first but no expense is spared in using alternate therapy along with vet care to increase healing and quality of life.
All I can say is WOW! I don't where a lot of these other reviewers went but the Gentle Barn I've gone to with my kids is NOT the same place. The place we go is great. Its educational. They don't try to push anything on you and I was really surprised how good the veagan food was. It was awesome to watch my kids learn about the animals and the plant diet without feeling like we were being scared into the lifestyle with horror stories of factory farming and animal abuse. They have a very gentle approach to educating the public. As far as doing it for the money is concerned, how much do you think it would cost to feed 170 farm animals! Its not like you can go to Walmart and pick up food for them all! And that's not counting the medical expenses - these animals have not come from the best of places and were not all treated with rainbows and daisies! I commend them for what they have done and continue to do and hope I can bring my family here for many more years!
I have a great deal of respect for the way that the Gentle Barn is run. The Gentle Barn's treatment of the animals that have been lucky enough to find a home with them has been exemplary in my nearly two years of experience of volunteering with the organization. I work directly with the animals up to four days a week, so the alleged mishandling and misconduct that has been reported on this site would be obvious to someone in my unique position if it had actually occurred. I would not hesitate to report abuse of any kind if it were a reality. I've worked in the non profit world for the bulk of my professional career, and disgruntled volunteers and ex employees are an unfortunate commonality no matter the organization or cause. I find it very sad and suspicious when people who once lent their time and effort an organization later seek to destroy it. Other non profit organizations should take note of these disgruntled people because I suspect that they won't be happy volunteering or working with any organization. My hope is that they will soon find something to fill their emptiness other than hate.
Review from Guidestar
I have been coming to this wonderful place for upwards of 5 years with my family. The animals are well cared for and the people are extremely friendly. I have never felt intimidated or harassed and have had interaction with several volunteers as well as Ellie and Jay during visits. They obviously care deeply for each and every animal and the families who come here.
A friend told me about this site and the horrible things that have been said. I know people who volunteer here and friends and family who sponsor animals. Not everyone is liked... that's a part of life. I think it is unfortunate though that disgruntled ex-volunteers and staff have nothing better to do in their lives than to spread so much hate about such a great organization.
I have seen posts by and don't know who this Eric Lange person is but whatever his personal agenda is, he should not take it out on the animals and that is who it affects in the end. I have been told he has his own animal rescue that he is shaping it in the image of The Gentle Barn. If The Gentle Barn is so awful, why try to create a duplicate? I think its shameful to malign another charitable organization to further your own.
God Bless The Gentle Barn!
Still no changes at The (UN)Gentle Barn, just more slander of former employees and volunteers. Well, maybe there is a little more oversight now that they are under the scrutiny of several entities, including the CA Attorney General. I won't mention who all the others are, surprises are fun.
Since I left the barn, a number of animals have passed away, though old, their last days could have been eased if egos were not in the way, if people who claim to talk with animals had actually been listening to what they had to say. GB forgets that we have eyes and ears in the community, people willing to visit on Sundays, for years, write fake(positive) reviews to keep the wool pulled over the lamb in wolves' clothing's eyes, and even daily 'volunteers'.
Why does GB delete posts from people asking questions? From people asking for accountability? Things GB should want to leap to do, in order to prove they are legit? Is it possible they are not, in fact, honest?
So you believe in the people running GB 100%? Ask them for their IRS returns, and see if they give it to you. Ask them to their face about the 60 cows. Ask simple questions that should be no cause for alarm, including how all monies are spent. The public has a RIGHT to know, as the money comes from the public, the organization owns all the animals, including the dogs and cats in the house, as they are publicly funded, and the public has a RIGHT to information and accountability. It is silly to believe a non-profit just because it tugs on your heart strings. Remember, PT Barnum is credited for saying "A sucker is born every minute", though that was actually said by David Hannum. But many people believe the first thing they hear.
My name is Wendy. I volunteered at The Gentle Barn for about 3 years, from early 2009 until February of 2012. I worked with the first set of 6 veal calves, then worked as a horse groomer, then trained new horse volunteers, and facilillitated the program for adults with special needs who came to groom horses. I was also a Sunday horse manager for 2 years.
I would absolutely love a public forum meeting where the staff and board can speak for themselves and show us all the documents that will set our minds at ease and end these arguments.
I have been a big fan of The Gentle Barn until the last few days.. Several had asked questions for Worthy who was born with Windswept angular limb deformity which should have been corrected when she was a newborn. Worthy is now a yearling and it is now a complicated surgery.
They deleted my post along with others who just asked reasonable questions about Worthy
I only supported them because of Ellen DeGeneres..this was my post I posted under the picture of Worthy below.
I know for a fact there are Veterinarian teaching schools that would waive the fees for surgery. I hope with all my heart that Worthy Thrives and I don’t feel Summer was being mean or hateful as some of you have accused. I think people that own horses and love them know that to thrive for a horse might mean something completely different then your perception of thriving, especially if you have little knowledge of horses. If you just think about it for a bit. Horses thrive by grazing, by keeping up with the herd, Worthy is not very old, still a baby. She will eventually gain more weight, which will become the deciding factor as to whether she thrives. Yes it is very sad when you have a horse with leg and hoof injuries. Because their legs and hooves are priority in a horses life span.
I support the Gentle barn‘s ambitions, but when they ask for money donations, I think their replying to some of the concerns and questions about Worthy is only fair in return. Now a days people and non-profits have their hands out everywhere you go.
I had a filly many years ago born with a double knee and I did reply to the posts out of curiosity as to the prognosis in the beginning with Worthy and I was interested in who was doing the surgery because I do know several Equine Orthopedic Surgeons . My father and Grandfather were large animal Vets. My background is in Rehab for racing Thoroughbreds. I have read others posts requesting the same information. That does not label us as Anti-Worthy by no means. I would think it is because we care and maybe some have the funds to cover your needs but are business people who dot their i’s and cross their T’s before they hand out funds. Nothing wrong with that. I think the remarks towards those with questions or opinions were tacky and uncalled for. My best to Worthy #Ellen DeGeneres
I donate money to help Daisy the goat and my partner interns at Gentle Barn at the Sun Chlorella Ranch working with Aldo the manager. These people do amazing things. It is disheartening that disgruntled former hires have nothing better to do but slander and libel against this great organization. They may not see eye to eye with Ellie the owner but I can attest because of my partner that these people are very busy and do amazing things. GOOD FOR GENTLE BARN. They've inspired me to want to open my own rescue ranch one day. Two enthusiastic thumbs up for all they do for the animals!
I'm reviewing the Gentle Barn based on my experience adopting a puppy from them in February of 2013.
A friend shared a photo of two adorable puppies via the Gentle Barn's Facebook page, and I inquired. I was emailed an application from the Gentle Barn, and returned it to the Gentle Barn. I was contacted by the dogs' foster caregiver, and invited to come meet the puppy. I adopted my puppy that day, and paid a $200 fee that was to include microchipping and spay. I was told to wait a couple weeks to chip my puppy, until she was a bit stronger.
Fast forward a couple of weeks, and I could not get anyone at the Gentle Barn to return my calls or emails about scheduling the microchipping appointment. Frustrated, I contacted the foster mom--who does not work for the Gentle Barn--and she apologized, promising that the Gentle Barn would be contacting me. They never did, so in the interest of my dog's safety, I spent $130+ to chip her through my own vet in late March.
I continued to try to contact the Gentle Barn through email and by phone, hoping to at least get the spay service provided, but received no response throughout the entire month of April. I finally gave up and posted on their Facebook page that I found it deplorable that they weren't honoring their promises. This was yesterday, May 3rd.
This morning, I woke up to a vicious Facebook message from Ellie, accusing me of slandering her organization and basically calling me a terrible person. She threatened to come take my dog from me.
I also had a voicemail from her, that was actually quite crazy, with no apology for the way they've ignored me or failed to come through on their contract. Instead she was furious that I posted negative words on Facebook, which were, of course, deleted before anyone else could see them.
Quote from Ellie's voicemail: "if you don't stop slandering us, we will come over and take your dog away. Because if you don't stop slandering us, you're obviously an unfit home."
So, to re-cap: in three months, I have not been able to get a response from the Gentle Barn regarding services promised in exchange for a "donation." But when I posted a negative comment on Facebook, I got a Facebook message and a phone call the very next day...calling me names and threatening to take my dog.
The foster mother is now roped into this, as Ellie is now threatening to stop helping her spread the word about rescue dogs, because my dog was one she found. According to Ellie, they only helped place my dog "out of the goodness of (their) hearts." The foster mother is now offering to pay for my dog's spay out of her own pocket to ensure that the Gentle Barn will continue to help her rescue and place animals in the future.
My dog will be spayed at my own expense, because even if Ellie and the Gentle Barn offered to do it, I am not confident that they would give me my dog back.
I hate to be critical, because in theory, the work they do is so wonderful. But something is not right at the Gentle Barn, and I wouldn't give them another dime of my money. Ellie is an abusive bully, and now I have my lawyer looking into how I can prevent them from taking my dog. The money is not the concern anymore.
They get two stars because they did bring me and my wonderful dog together, and for that, I will always be grateful.
Thanks for reading.
I have been a Volunteer for over 4 years and It is the greatest place to be. I love talking to all the visitors who have come from near and very far. They are in love with the Gentle barn and if it was there fist time there, they say they will be back soon. We have many season pass holders who come almost every week they love it so much. Please come check out our wonderful happy animals and volunteers and we have vegan goodies you can buy for a nice lunch.
I have been a volunteer for over 4 years and I have seen first hand all the love and care these animals are given. I also took part in the watching of the 4 extremely sick calves that were rescued from Texas. They were watched and fed around the clock. I did several of the 3am to 7am shifts. They even had blankets made for them to cover them at night.
I sat with many of the goats that were rescued from the back yard butcher and watched how they slowly recovered from the daily nutrients that were hand administered daily. I watched them come from cowering in the corners of the stalls to loving goats who could not get enough love and scratching from us.
I also whitnessed Elllie come in each day and whipe out the deep would caused by a dog bite on a goat. Even though it was a yucky job, she didn't hesitate to clean it and cover it with healing ointment.
I whitnessed Holy and Madonna who were two baby cows that were rescued and bottle fed. We had to watch them to make sure they did not fall over as they grew stronger and healthier. They are now sweet and loving cows.
I have never seen any type of abuse, I have only whitnessed love and concern from Jay and Ellie for their animals.
It is such a delight to see the guests come in for the first time and have them tell me how they can not wait to come back and bring friends and family.
It is a shame that former volunteers are trying to slander the Gentle Barn when it stands for love and healing for all the animals and the special need and inner city childern who come and can relate the the hurt and abuse the animals had suffered and see how they have healed and love again.
I've been to the Gentle Barn multiple times. They take very good care of their animals and, if you subscribe to their newsletter, they are constantly providing updates on the animals they rescue both their medical condition, treatment and emotional health. I'm very confused as to why someone would describe it as creepy. There's nothing creepy about it. The space is bright and wide open. They provide educational sessions and family friendly events. They shelter the newest animals they've rescued from the public and existing animals until they are healthy emotionally and physically. I've been very impressed. Oh, and this is an animal rescue organization NOT a petting zoo. They rescue animals from those horrid petting zoos.
As simply a visitor to the Gentle Barn since 2009, I can say the place definitely isn't creepy at all. Some of these reviews are just bashing the place to bash the place, and they're all under fake names. The volunteers who are leaving their names come off a lot more legit and sound reasonable then the people who keep posting under fake names saying how bad, or good, the Gentle Barn is. Granted, I'm not using my real name either, but I'm not just bashing the place or defending it.
I'm just a fan who discovered the Gentle Barn back in 2009, when they didn't even have a parking lot and you entered on the other side from where you do now. I've always loved it, but the volunteers who have issues and have at least said who they are, are making me second guess things now. I actually recognize a few of the volunteers from going there and was shocked to learn about all the drama.
I would go to the Gentle Barn about 4 to 5 times a year on Sunday. So from the outside, I never really saw anything, other than the few times I watched Buddha really struggle to lay down and you could tell she was in a lot of pain. I loved Buddha but always assumed she had the best care. Same with Josh and some of the older animals. They looked a bit rough at times, but they were old so that's what I chalked it up as. I certainly hope those older animals that have died in the last year were taken care of and not neglected in any way.
The other thing I noticed was that as the Gentle Barn got more exposure from Ellen, the place got really busy and they set up a bunch of new rules. You have to wait now to go to the upper barnyard and listen to Ellie give a speech every time, unless you buy a season pass. Which I did. Her speech is about how the place started, don't chase the animals, and to live a meat free diet. Nothing too crazy but I certainly didn't need to hear it every time I went there. And it does sort of seem that they're trying to get more celebrities like Pamela Anderson or Rose McGowan to attach their name to the place, and then charge $100 to go to parties there. The vibe has changed a little bit due to their fame, but it was nothing I couldn't over look.
I'm kind of torn about the whole thing. I just got a year membership last Summer, but now that I've found out about all this, I'll keep my eyes on it and see on the Gentle Barn reacts to all this. I read they are being investigated and some of the claims the volunteers are reporting definitely need to be addressed.
As a vistior with no knowledge of the inside workings of the place, I'd give it a 5. I've always enjoyed it and had a good time and I love all the animals. But it definitely sounds like there are a lot of legal issues going on and the treatment of volunteers isn't good, so for that I'd give it a 1. The brings my final total to 3.
I certainly hope things work out for the Gentle Barn. If they have anything to hide, the truth will certainly come out eventually. It's really a bummer to see some of these volunteers who were "special people" to the animals be banned from the property. I understand that when you have a business, you're not going to make everybody happy and you might have some disgruntled employees over time. But there are just too many names and too many stories for it to be isolated. And that sucks. And it sucks most of all for the animals. They don't deserve to be stuck in the middle of all this. They've gone through enough.
Have you ever been to a place that was supposed to be fun and happy, but it just felt wrong and sort of creepy? That is my experience with the Gentle Barn. It sounds so good. I love the idea of rescued animals all happy and healthy, but that is not what I found. Some of the animals were great, but some of them were so unhealthy that I think they are being exploited long past the time they should have been released from their pain. There was a red cow there that made me want to cry. How could anyone force this poor guy to keep living? If this cow was my dog, I would have had him euthanized.
And there is something wrong with the people too. I can't really describe it, but something is definitely wrong. It sort of reminds me of a secret society that my friend tried to get me to join back in college. People don't talk freely, and they are always on the lookout to see if they are being watched by anyone else in the secret society. This place felt like that. Creepy. I won't be going back. There are other petting zoos I can take my little girl to visit.
My name is Kim Grass, I volunteered and then worked in the Gentle Barn office in 2009 and would be very happy to attend an open, public discussion as Darshan proposes with the current staff and Board of Directors regarding financial and animal care records. I have high aspirations that the Gentle Barn philosophy and vision will grow into a real (legit) functioning non-profit to help animals and children alike. Having the current management answer the many questions about animal care and financial records that keep coming up could clear up many unanswered questions and possibly help to bring the Gentle Barn to a better place.
I volunteered for over 2 years and was banned because my taste in friends was not up to Ellie's liking. Not sure why that is any of her business or why this would interfere with my taking care of the animals, but in her mind I guess it was. I helped out with the horses 3 to 4 days a week. I was a " special person" to one horse in particular for the entire time I was there as well as supplying arts and crafts projects for their Sunday events. When I first started there I felt like I had found the most wonderful sanctuary in the world. I would feel at peace the moment I went through those gates. I made wonderful friends who's friendship I cherish to this day. This is the way I wish it had stayed, but unfortunately I started to see that things were not what they appeared to be. Most of the volunteers were afraid of Ellie and I soon found out why. If you ever were to question her or try to tell her about something she would become a whole different person and not a person you would want to see or deal with. This is not a good thing when the welfare of animals is at stake. I soon started finding out that the stories we were told to tell about the animals were not exactly truths. I put up with this and decided to stick it out as long as I could, because at this point I was completely in love with these animals and felt like they needed my protection. Then animals started dying and more lies were being told about what had happened to them. Animals were not getting proper vet care and more and more of my friends were being banned for standing up for these poor creatures. Ellie and Jay believe that they have the animals welfare as their top priority, but I beg to differ. Who gets rid of loving, caring people who devote their free time to take care of these animals? Who love on them day in and day out for no other reason than to make the animals happy. Jay and Ellie obviously don't care about the animals when they drive away all the people who loved them. They obviously don't care how the animals feel now that their "special people" no longer come to visit. That was not even in their minds when they started driving out all the devoted volunteers.
I will gladly go to an open forum where Ellie and Jay can show us proof that these animals are all cared for properly and the money is going to the organization and not into Ellie and Jay's pockets.