I was a volunteer at one of the locations for almost 3 years. I also was a member of the council for about a year. During my time at the Gentle Barn I saw how money hungry they are. They have discussed how they did not want $10 donors - they wanted the large dollar donors. If you look at their financials (on their website) it states that both founders take in $135k per year salary. This does not include the money that Ellie makes as an animal communicator or the $5k classes that she peddles on how to start your own sanctuary. They also receive $53k per year from the Gentle Barn because they rent the California property (they own) to GB. Once again this information is available on their tax records.
In my time at the Gentle Barn I did not see them going out and actively rescuing animals. If they did rescue an animal it had to be donation or news worthy. In fact if someone called with a rescue they have a list of other rescues they give the person to call. Recently they were involved in a rescue that involved 40 animals. They started fundraising & playing to their followers that they needed money for the animals care. When the rescue was called off, GB continued to raise money for at least another 12 hours or so asking for donations. They knew this rescue wasn't going to happen & they kept asking their donors for money.
In my time I have learned that Ellie & Jay are nothing but con artists. After I stopped being a volunteer I realized that I had been in nothing more than a cult. They make you a docent to an animal so you get attached & you feel like you can't leave GB because you'll be leaving that animal.
There are so many other farm animal rescues out there that are actually in it for the purpose of saving animals!
I used to volunteer weekly, served on the advisory council for one location, sponsored several animals and donated often. Unfortunately I was exposed to the ownership of the organization. You can read most of the negative reviews here to get a sense of the concern. I stopped volunteering and donating, instead finding more reputable organizations that do more for the animals and RESCUE regularly and provide proper care for sick animals…who budget responsibly and are honest with their patrons. There is a trail of former employees and volunteers that understand this organization is toxic at the top.
I was a visitor at first and then got the opportunity to work for this amazing organization. The founders care so much about the animals and the cause. They take in animals that are in horrible conditions. They come to The Gentle Barn terrified, broken, and hopeless. I have spent countless hours being the assistant to Ellie (the founder of The Gentle Barn) and I cannot express how grateful I am to be a part of such an amazing organization that truly loves and cares about these animals. I first hand have seen animals we have rescued from slaughter and other horrific conditions, and these animals have been terrified to even be near humans, to them trusting us and even letting us brush them, pet them, give them hugs, kindness, and love. These animals get the best care possible. The older animals get chiropractic care, massage therapy once a week as well as acupuncture, ice therapy, and energetic healing. I look forward to working for this amazing organization for many many years to come.
To witness the remarkable work and love that pours out from everyone at The Gentle Barn is refreshing to say the least. To be a part of a cause that is meaningful, supported, and life-changing is phenomenal! There is something very spiritual that happens as soon as you arrive.
The animals have been healed, and are so loving and the volunteers are so loyal and committed.
Our staff is incredible with hearts of gold. The Founder and Co-founder are extremely blessed because they are extremely passionate yet humble. They truly care about saving lives of animals AND people. They envisioned contributing to making this world a better place by rescuing animals from man's cruelty and greed. Twenty years later they are not only still rescuing animals, rehabilitating, them and offering sanctuary but also rescuing at-risk teens and offering change , domestic violence survivors and offering empowerment, developmentally challenged teens and kids and offering independence, and people who are ill and offering a wellness program. This foundation is on fiya!!
I am a staff member who is grateful and proud to be a part of the Gentle Barn Family! I look forward to more milestones to be achieved and healing more animals and people's hearts!
Review from Guidestar
I visited the Gentle Barn about 5 years ago for the first time. I was so moved by the animals' stories and their special relationships with the people (the volunteers and staff) who care for them and love them so much. Not only was the passion and dedication to helping barnyard animals palpable but, so was the passion and dedication to connecting with and embracing Sunday visitors. Needless to say, I fell in love with this amazing place and signed up to volunteer right then and there. 5 years on, the Gentle Barn is still one of the best and biggest parts of my life and I am so truly grateful for how much this magical place has added to my life. From soup to nuts, I love The Gentle Barn!
Review from Guidestar
I started following the Gentle Barn on social media in 2010. Finally, in 2013 I took my son for a visit and instantly fell in love with everything about this sanctuary. I knew I wanted to volunteer there someday. We continued visiting and finally, in 2018, I was in a place to submit a volunteer application. I've been volunteering regularly for over a year and could not be any happier. The Gentle Barn is a family. The founders, employees, volunteers, and regular visitors have all become people I not only enjoy being around but inspire me to be a better person!
Review from Guidestar
I have loved horses all of my life and have always wanted to work with them! I hope as searching at places to volunteer with animals in Santa Clarita and the first search that popped up was the gentle barn! Went to go visit and sign up to volunteer, I got a call that week and said I can volunteer, that was September 2014! A year later I became a senior volunteer and 6 years later I became Gentle barn volunteer manager of the horses and I could not be happier
The gentle barn is a volunteer place
Please consider visiting and experience the love
You definitely feel as soon as you walk in!
Review from Guidestar
I've worked with The Gentle Barn both as a volunteer and as a contractor and had a wonderful experience. It was so inspiring to see a place willing to go to any distance to rescue and heal animals who have been through the worst. They go above and beyond to heal them, both physically and emotionally, even if it takes years. Every animal there is cherished as the individual they are, and you can tell they know it! I'm now a proud sponsor of Ferdinand.
Review from Guidestar
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.
This is such an amazing place!!! After visiting The Gentle Barn for the first time on a Sunday, I knew I wanted to volunteer there. I spoke to Ellie, the founder, and started the process to become a volunteer. That was 2 1/2 years ago and I have been volunteering ever since. I believe that Ellie truly loves animals and has made caring for them her full time job. Most people say that Disneyland is the happiest place on earth, but I think The Gentle Barn is the happiest place on earth.
The Gentle Barn is an organization that rescues animals from abuse, neglect, slaughter, you name it. Although they primarily rescue farm animals, I have never seen them turn away any animals that needed to be rescued; including dogs and cats. These animals get to live the rest of their lives in a happy and loving environment. This organization is staffed with people who truly believe that all animals and people should be treated with kindness and compassion. We need more places like The Gentle Barn in the world.
On Sundays, the property is open to the public. For a $10 minimum donation, you can visit The Gentle Barn and meet the animals and hear their stories. There are cows, horses, goats, sheep, pigs, chickens, turkeys, and llamas that you can meet.
While most of the people that work at or visit The Gentle Barn are vegans or vegetarians, they do not force veganism on anyone. They do ask that you not bring food made with animal products to their property out of respect for their work and respect for the animals. I wouldn't show up at your house eating your dead relatives so I think this is a fair thing to ask of visitors. If you want to have a bacon cheeseburger after you leave, that's your business.
The Gentle Barn also does so much more than open their doors to the public on Sundays. The Gentle Barn is host to abused children, kids recovering from substance abuse, kids on probation and in foster care, and children and adults with mental, emotional, and physical challenges. Through their interactions with animals, children and adults learn forgiveness, courage, strength, leadership skills, trust, empathy, and kindness. The healing that takes place when people get together with the animals is miraculous. I have been able to witness some of these interactions firsthand, and it is truly a beautiful thing to see.
When LA County Animal Control officers shut down a backyard butcher, they brought all of the animals to The Gentle Barn. I have seen animals so sick I did not think they would live, and they have made full recoveries. They use eastern and western medicine, reiki, acupuncture, chiropractic treatments, algae, massage therapy, energy healing, animal communication, and so much more to help heal the animals. It is such a blessing to be a part of the solution.
Volunteering isn't for everyone, but you should definitely come and visit on a Sunday and see what The Gentle Barn is all about!
My name is Ligaya and I, along with my family, volunteered at the barn from 2008 to 2011. I’m not bitter, I’m not angry. Jay and Ellie were never mean to us. What I am is sad. Sad for my daughter who lost faith in “good” people. Sad that she had to witness an unwillingness to take action for an animal that even she, at the age of 13, knew was sick. Sad for her that she lost a horse that she loved so much due to lack of care for a disease that a young horse, however hard their life had been previously, should have recovered with aggressive therapy. I have my proof but I’m still willing to sit down at a meeting and let them speak and show me that I’m wrong.
Here’s what I want proven: Why won’t local vets work with the barn? What did Halo the calf really die from? Why isn’t he on the memoriam page? Why, when my daughter had been stating for 3 weeks that he was sick, didn’t anything get done till he was down and couldn’t walk? Where are the papers on Mamma Dear showing her age and her original race name? We were told in the beginning that her race name was Ima Dear. When she came to the barn she immediately took to Addison the donkey and adopted him thereby receiving the name Mamma Dear. Upon further research, I found that a race horse name may only be used once. According to the Thoroughbred Database there was a horse named Ima Dear born in 1965. Well, we know that can’t be her. That would have made her 46 years old. Then, there was Ima Deer, born February 6, 1999. But Mamma Dear’s birth date on her stable card showed her birth year as 1990. Error? Possibly, except that we were told that she was 19 when we started working with her. So that means when she was put down in 2011 she was only 12. Is that why she fought so hard? It would have been great to have had a pic of the tattoo under her lip showing us all who she really was. By the way, if she was Ima Deer, she foaled a mare in 2006 and her name is Irukandji.
We have attended the gentle barn on numerous occasions and have always had a great time.
The place is a haven for animals of all kind .
Their rescue work is nothing short of miraculous .
We bought a yearly pass and look forward to our next visit there.
The volunteers are always knowledgeable and friendly.
Thank you for the work you do!
The Schneider Family
My name is Laura and I was a volunteer in the upper barnyard for a year and a half, with some of that time being served as Barnyard Manager.
Contrary to what the positive reviews are saying, we are not a few disgruntled haters spewing venom. We write because we care about the animals and we care that people are being duped by the front that is being presented by Ellie and Jay.
Knowing one thing to be true and then hearing the "stories" that come from the barn is nothing short of disgraceful.
I'd be happy to attend any public meeting. Good luck Darshan. I hope it comes together. It needs to.
I have volunteered at the Gentle Barn for a while. It's a great place for all the animals and kids groups that come through there. It's sad to see so many ex employees and persons who were kicked leave negative comments on here just to feel like they are getting revenge .
Because that's all it is.
I understand Erich Lange opened his own "rescue"
So it seems perhaps his concerns are a bit self serving.
Imagine if people you fired in the past could leave reviews on your company page.
Plus Erich and others just use different emails and continue to leave the same ranting over and over.
What good would it be to the gentle barn to have a forum with a bunch of ex employees and people who are up to no good?
Who would ever do that.
What I suggest is come to the gentle barn and see for yourself .
My name is Krystina Saavedra. I volunteered for the Gentle Barn for 15 months. I was also employed for 8 months of that time. I served as Executive Assistant to the President. I would be happy to attend the meeting Darshan proposes.
I was a volunteer and special person at the Gentle Barn for two animals and worked every Sunday for 2 years from 2009-2011. I would be very happy to attend an open, public discussion with the current staff and Board of Directors regarding financial and animal care records.
My name is Louisa. I travelled from London, UK, to Santa Clarita in May 2010 specifically to volunteer at The Gentle Barn. I was very alarmed by many of the things I witnessed and have already given statements to the appropriate persons.
I would be very happy to attend a meeting with Ellie, Jay, an impartial mediator and those of us who have unsavoury experiences of GB, behind the facade.
I feel compelled to write this in response to so many of the five-star reviews being left on this site in defense of the Gentle Barn and critical of past volunteers and employees who are voicing their concerns about this organization's level of care for its animals and its use of donation dollars. In all honesty, if you're forming your opinions from any sort of remote vantage point – animal sponsor, Sunday public visitor, casual volunteer, Facebook fan – you should admit to yourself that you probably do not have the necessary information or insight to refute with any sort of intelligence the issues being raised by those who have been closest to the inner workings of the Gentle Barn.
I was a senior level volunteer there for two years, acting as both the upper barnyard manager and "special person" to Billy The Goat until his unfortunate death last year. I was also a regular donor. If you visited any Sunday between April 2010 and February 2012, you probably met me, even if you don't remember. I think I missed just two public sessions in the yard during my entire tenure as manager. With this in mind, I would like to respond specifically to those comments left here and elsewhere on line in praise of the barn based soley on what a "wonderful" and "magical" experience it is to visit on Sundays and see so many farm animals living together they way they do in the upper barnyard.
I can't begin to count the hundreds of conversations I had with people who were so delighted and so amazed to find themselves in the middle of what I so often heard referred to as "Utopia." Because you just never see goats living with a 1,000-pound pig living with a tiny little hair sheep living with turkeys living with llamas living with an emu living with chickens living with cows. Right? But have you ever asked yourself WHY you never see goats living with a thousand-pound pig living with a tiny little hair sheep living with turkeys living with llamas living with an emu living with chickens living with cows?
Because it is UNSAFE.
It's unsafe for all of the individual animals, for the staff working the grounds, for the volunteers trying to cover such a condensed and overcrowded area and for the public visitors with little to no experience with farmed animals who venture into the space. When you visit other sanctuaries - and I would hazard a guess this applies to ANY other responsibly run sanctuary – you will see the large pigs in their own area and the birds in their own area and the cows in their own pasture, etc. Because this is what is safest for all involved – most especially for the animals lucky enough to be living in sanctuary rather than dying in factory farms. Yes, a 1,000-pound pig should most certainly be able to run as many crazy, joyful circles around his space as he wants. But volunteers should never have to throw their bodies over smaller, more frail animals while he does, in the panicked hope no one gets trampled.
We all must be critical, intelligent thinkers who form our own opinions based on our own experiences. My experiences at the GB – while some were so very wonderful (like falling in love with so many animals and people there who've forever changed my life) – have also unfortunately led me to believe that the safety and well-being of the animals there takes a clearly measurable backseat to the all-important image of Utopia. Because Utopia tugs at the heartstrings. And because these kinds of emotional responses solicit donation dollars. I think – based on my lengthy and very involved tenure there – that the Gentle Barn no longer raises money to rescue animals. I am of the opinion the GB rescues animals to raise money. This distinction is very important.
And this is why (finally coming full-circle to my ultimate point here) I am so endlessly frustrated at such glowing reviews based solely upon the wonderful feelings people have upon visiting the barn. Yes, as farmed-animal advocates we LOVE that you feel so happy experiencing the joy of being around these wonderful souls. But as farmed animal advocates we also know that our own joy should never – EVER – be at the expense of any animals anywhere. In sanctuary especially, the animals must come first. As someone who staffed that yard from a strictly defensive position during my last year (Who can handle the big pigs best and keep them from brawling in such small barns? Who can best manage [cows] Holy and Madonna to keep them from falling in the pig pool and probably breaking a leg? Which volunteer has a strong enough personality to keep people away from any animals who are overwhelmed by the crowds but still make everyone feel welcome? Who can make sure yet another chicken or turkey doesn't get crushed under one of the pigs?), I most definitely believe your happiness visiting there has been granted at the expense of the residents who call that yard home.
All this being said, please know one more thing: We are not a small group of toxic, disgruntled, ex-volunteers filled with bitterness and hate. Our numbers are many and we are compassionate and concerned and – without exception – brokenhearted. Among us are experts in the fields of animal care and advocacy. Among us are college-educated, working professionals with both corporate and non-profit backgrounds. Among us are community leaders and concerned parents and people who LOVE the original mission statement on which the barn was built. We just think the founders have lost their way. And some of us, myself included, are trying to right our own personal wrongs of staying quiet far too long and watching animals suffer because of it.
I understand Darshan Sergi is trying to organize a public meeting with the Gentle Barn! I would love to attend!
My name is Erich Lange and I was a donor, volunteer, special person, served on the committee for the Gentle Barn's first golf tournament, possess a Lifetime Family Membership Card ($1000.00), and rode with Jay to the Planning Department in 2010. I have been to both of their facilities. I volunteered from May 2010 until I was asked not to come back in February 0f 2011. My first visit to the Gentle Barn was to make a $1000.00 donation to help save "60 sad cows". Here are a few questions I would like answered at the meeting:
1. Where is their 2010 IRS Form 990? (update 2/26/13 - it is now on Guidestar)
2. Where is their 2011 IRS Form 990? (update 2/26/13 - it is now on Guidestar)
3. Was the structure they put up on the Agua Dulce property permitted? I can't find a record of a permit.
4. What happened to the 60 cows from their 2010 campaign; the one where they raised $200,000?
5. On their 2009 IRS Form 990, I believe it says they paid $0.00 in salaries. How is that possible with a full office staff?
6. Jay once told me that he and Ellie didn't draw a salary. How did they support a family of 5 with no income?
7. If they weren't drawing a salary, how did they pay for their Las Vegas wedding and their various vacations (Hawaii, etc)?
8 Did their Board meet regularly BEFORE the Attorney General showed up in November of 2011? Do they have the minutes?
9. What does Ellen have to say about the 60 cows that were never rescued?
10. Could we ask to see their personal tax returns for 2010 and 2011 so we can see how they supported a family of five?
11. Were they responsible for my website being temporarily shut down?
12. How many "disgruntled" people did Ellie actually send her "Notice and Warning" to?
13. When the Gentle Barn was in Tarzana(?), was it zoned for an animal rescue?
14. GB faithful have claimed that my posts seeking answers are "filled with lies!" yet I am still waiting to have that claim substantiated. Please ask Jay, Ellie, Mike, Michelle, etc. to compile an actual list of these lies so I can apologize in public at this meeting. In two years the best any of them has come up with is that I had the name of a chicken wrong (the one that was accidentally killed by one of their pigs). The truth is that I have never knowingly lied about Jay, Ellie, or the Gentle Barn.
I hope this helps in preparing a list of questions for the meeting.
Erich O. Lange, P.E.
Facebook: Where are the cows?
My Name is Nikki and I was a special person at the Gentle Barn for a horse named Princess. I was a special person to Princess for almost 2 years. I came to see her almost everyday; grooming her, walking her, riding her, and taking general care of her until I could not take the verbal abuse and prolonged stress I endured from Ellie and Jay any longer...forcing me to leave.
I also donted money for the "60 sad cows" campaign...the same cows that were never saved. I have filed a complaint with the Attorney General and the Gentle Barn is currently under investigation.
I would be very interested in meeting for a public forum to get answers.
My Name is jackie Wagner and I volunteered at the Gentle Barn for three years. I also was employed by Elli and Jay to babysit their children and work with the horses for a short period of time. I worked closely with the all the animals and the volunteers and was there about 20 or more hours a week. Me and my family also made donations to the Gentle Barn.
I saw personally how they treat animals and volunteers and it is not okay. Because of the mistreatment I saw I would absolutely attend a meeting where the board, staff and Elli and Jay can answer our many questions. I think its time that me and many others finally get the answers that we deserve. If Elli, Jay and the Gentle Barn have nothing to hide than this meeting sounds like a wonderful idea.
My name is Alexandra Caswell. I was employed by the Gentle Barn from 2010-11 as an Office Administrator following several months of volunteering. I would be very happy to attend an open, public discussion with the current staff and Board of Directors regarding financial and animal care records.
My name is Jody. I would love to attend a public meeting to discuss the financials of The Gentle Barn as well as the care of the animals and maintenance of the facility. As a nonprofit 501(c)3, all of the financials of The Gentle Barn should be available for public review. As donors have a right to know how much money is coming in and how it's being spent.
I think an independent moderator is an excellent idea. And I even think it's appropriate to put all finance-related questions to Ellie, Jay and the Gentle Barn Board of Directors prior to the meeting so that they have ample time to gather the documents necessary to support their claim or refute those from the public. This way, there can be no "I'll get back to you on that" moments.
I volunteered for several months a couple years ago. I left for reasons explained in detail in a much earlier review that I posted on this site (still available should you feel like scrolling through to read it). Just look for my name, it was on page 6 as of this morning...
I, too, am echoing the other reviews and adding a little extra from my own experience. I began volunteering there in 2010. I spent most of my time in the upper barnyard. Shortly after I began volunteering, there was an urgent fundraising effort to save an orphaned calf from a local farm. The day the calf was to arrive, suddenly the mother was located and so the calf was no longer orphaned. Instead of using the raised funds to improve the housing for the existing animals at GB, or for food and health care, they decided to go to an auction and PURCHASE two other calves. These calves caught the attention of Ellen Degeneres and were named by her - Holy and Madonna. Once Ellen learned of these calves she became an active supporter of GB and now donates large sums of money on a regular basis.
While their fundraising habits leave something to be desired and clearly lack the transparency one would expect from a non-profit, I also have a personal issue with Ellie and Jay. They live on the property and have 5 pet dogs. I am a professional canine behaviorist and read dogs very well. I know how to interact with them and have (so far) never been attacked. On one day, as I was getting ready to leave, 3 of her dogs appeared out of nowhere and surrounded me, barking, and one lunged at me. Once I was able to extract myself from this unpleasant situation, I reported the incident in the office. Ellie brushed it off as being harmless. When I left the office and approached the upper barnyard fence so I could speak to Ellie, I was again surrounded by these dogs who were acting in a very menacing manner. That time, I was blocked between the fence and my car by these dogs, and my only means of safe escape was to enter my car through the passenger door.
Only a month later, as I arrived, another of Ellie's dogs charged me at full speed, barking and menacing. This was sudden and aggressive enough, that my instinctive response was to change directions and make myself less threatening. When that failed to slow the dog down, I instinctively challenged the dog back to try to get it to back down. I screamed "Whoa!" repeatedly; after my third shout of "Whoa!" Ellie finally came into the area and dragged the dog off. Ellie seemed appropriately contrite. But just one hour later, as I was leaving, she AGAIN allowed this same dog free access and this dog AGAIN charged me at full speed, barking and menacing. As I said, I'm a professional and I have the self control and confidence to simply stand still with my back to the dog, but most people would have been very frightened by this dog's aggressive behavior. Had I screamed in fear or tried to run away, I have no doubt that this dog would have tackled me and may have bitten.
I tried to politely point out the massive liability issue of having these dogs loose on the property - both during the week when volunteers (not paid employees) are wandering around, but also on Sundays when they are open to the PAYING public. Ellie informed me that it was absolutely "not [my] place to comment" and Jay assured me there "is no liability because they don't bite." To me this is egregious neglect. Any dog who is that aroused and acting in a fearful, defensive manner as this dog was (and who has teeth in their mouth) WILL bite at some point.
Ellie and Jay's complete lack of concern for the safety of their volunteers and the paying public was the last straw for me. I am a canine professional and I was more taken aback and actually frightened by her dog (the second encounter) than I've ever been with any dog I've ever encountered. I decided that as a volunteer who was donating my time, I did not need the stress of wondering if I would be attacked every time I arrived. I informed Ellie that I would no longer be volunteering and the specific reasons for my departure. She never responded.
If Ellie and Jay's connection to GB were to end, and a proper board of directors was established, with transparent reviews of where the money is coming from and where it's going, I would be open to resuming my volunteer work there. But as long as Ellie and Jay are at the helm, I have no interest in being connected to GB.
My name is Darshan Sergi and I worked in the Gentle Barn office for 4-1/2 years. My title ranged from Development Associate to Director of Development, but most of my work was on the operations side. I was also on the Board of Directors for several years. There are a lot of claims being made in this forum. I am not going to add anything in this post, but I have a proposal.
I propose that we have a public meeting with Jay, Ellie and the Gentle Barn Board of Directors. I propose that the meeting be open to everyone so we can openly discuss all issues that have been raised. I propose the following guidelines:
-Independent Mediator: Given the emotional nature of the issues raised, an independent mediator would ensure all sides are equally heard.
-Supporting Documentation: Documentation should be provided to support or refute a claim. Jay, Ellie and the Gentle Barn Board of Directors should bring Gentle Barn financial and animal care records, and open them up for public inspection.
If you would be interested in attending this meeting, please post using your real name and describe your relationship with The Gentle Barn. Here is a sample:
“My name is John Smith. I am a donor and I volunteered with the horses for two years and I would love to attend this meeting.”
I look forward to an open and honest dialogue with everyone. Thank you.
Review from Guidestar
I am a long-term volunteer and sponsor of The Gentle Barn. I can attest to the fact that each week that I arrive to work with the barnyard animals that they are well taken care of, loved, and respected. All of the current volunteers and staff who work there care about the well-being of the animals. My job includes interacting with the animals to give them the attention they deserve and want. I brush the goats, sheep, and pigs. I keep the barnyard and stalls clean by raking up poop and sweeping. I make sure that there's always fresh water available for the animals to drink. But, most importantly, I make sure that each and every animal is loved and shown kindness.
In all my years of volunteering at The Gentle Barn, I have never seen an animal mistreated, but just the opposite. When any animal needs medical attention, a vet is summoned right away, if necessary. I have personally witnessed a vet providing care to goats with arthritic problems and treating other animals on numerous occasions. Health-related problems of any of the animals are always reported to the office or to Ellie, herself. In my experience, the proper and expected actions have always been taken to insure that the health and well-being of the animals is foremost. Regular maintenance is also done to assure that animals are cared for properly. Hooves are maintained, and the sheep are sheared before the hot months of summer each year. One would have to question the motivations of many of the one star reviewers who allege that the animals are not cared for properly, or that The Gentle Barn is nothing but a glorified petting zoo. Far from the truth, ... one of the main purposes of The Gentle Barn is to educate the public about animal abuse and the work that goes on daily there. That is why it is open to the public only one day of the week and only between 10 am and 2pm, instead of being open everyday. Most of the animals love the extra attention given them on Sundays. The good work continues at The Gentle Barn during the weekdays, when children from schools, disadvantaged homes, senior citizens, disabled adults and children, troubled youth, and abused children and teens have an opportunity to visit with the animals, learn to respect all living things, and help with the healing process. Be the judge yourself, rather than give credence to the negative reviews that some want you to believe due to a hidden agenda. Come visit The Gentle Barn on a Sunday, and make up your own mind. As for myself, I will continue to financially support and volunteer for this organization, because I've personally seen the good work it does.
Our family loves the Gentle Barn. It is a great way to spend a Sunday. You'll meet a variety of animals including cows, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, emu, and more. Don't miss feeding carrots to the horses and the adorable burro Addison! Your kids will be thrilled! The staff keeps the place pristine. The animals are well loved and cared for. When you see how confident the animals are around people, it's obvious they've been shown love and kindness by the staff and volunteers who interact with them daily.
Despite my busy life, I've been volunteering about 10 hours a week for going on 2 years, because I truly believe in their mission. It has been life changing to witness sick, starving animals who have been rescued and brought back to health, to live out their days in a comfortable loving environment. Words can't express how much I've come to adore these amazing animals and I'm forever grateful to Ellie and Jay for rescuing them! The staff at Gentle barn work tirelessly to make sure all of the animals have the best possible care and nutrition. The animals are safe, secure, and loved, that's really what it's all about!
I hope everyone will stop and consider the aminals when writing a review, they are innocent and they depend on donation dollars for their care. If you are truly an animal lover, please put them first!
This is one of the most wonderful experiences. I have taken my daughter her many times, both individually and with her school. We have had the BEST time ever and everyone was so nice and welcoming. It was only $10.00 to gain entrance (which goes to supporting the welfare of the animals). We were able to play with the animals, brush a horse, and pet a pig's belly! It was the most fun we have had. It was also very clean and the animals were obviously very well cared for. I definitely will go many times again! Thank you Gentle Barn!
The Gentle Barn is one of my favotite places.....a beautiful and peaceful place full of love and with people who care about these wonderful creatures. The animals are healthy and SO happy. Ellie, Jay and all of the volunteers do everything possible to heal, help and nourish all of the animals and to teach them that they never need to fear humans again. At The Gentle Barn they will live the rest of their lives in love, peace anf truth. If it wasn't for The Gentle Barn these beautiful animals would still be living in fear and abuse and some would have been destroyed. No animal should have to live like that. If you live in the Los Angeles area, I highly recommend you visit The Gentle Barn and see first hand. You will leave with a huge smile, a warm heart and amazing memories. It is a magical place!
BWT, I see someone wrote that if you call or email them, that they will not respond. I know first hand that they do! I have contacted them and they have responded to me every single time.
The past 4 years I have volunteered at The Gentle Barn 4 or 5 times per week for 1 ½-2 hours each visit. I pick up poop, pat the animals, supply carrot treats, and for the past 1 ½ years groom Bonsai and Addison. I am a retired High School teacher that learned in 34 yrs. to pay close attention to my surroundings.
Never have I seen an animal in the upper barnyard (goats, pigs, chickens, etc.) or lower corrals (cows, horses, and the donkey Addison) that was in distress and not being cared for. Manuel is very conscientious in addressing minor cuts and abrasions, and seriously sick or injured animals are either visited by a vet or taken to a medical facility. For example, recently an old turkey was given a soft, warm bed and stayed inside the main office as a greeter. The horses have their hooves trimmed and shoes replaced regularly. A man comes to the GB to administer ultra-sound treatments to horses with joint problems. Just last week a vet/dentist cared for the horses’ tooth problems.
Furthermore, the animals’ living areas are kept very clean, the water changed regularly, blankets provided, and they are well fed with specialized diets appropriate to their age and/or health needs. The animals get regular attention and companionship from volunteers, Ellie, Manuel, and visitors. The upper barnyard area has been particularly well managed with volunteers working in shifts during the day and even staying through the night in emergency situations. Each of the horses (and Addison) are groomed daily. Aldo and Rene keep the GB neat and clean with tree pruning, debris pick-up, and general maintenance. The GB is striving to improve.
The suggestion that animals are healthy when they arrive at the GB is not entirely correct. Some may be “healthy” but had been just days away from the actions of back-yard butchers. Others do have physical wounds, psychological problems, or have just been neglected or abused. For example, the horses Patrick and Andrew came to the GB 3-or-4 months ago malnourished and frightened. Today, they look beautiful, healthy, and are no longer painfully shy. Stories of this kind are repeated throughout the GB. Unfortunately, animals get old, some get sick, and others come to the GB in poor condition. They cannot live forever, but every effort is made to give them a very good quality of life while at the GB.
Lastly, I must report that I have observed far too many “volunteers” who believe they know more about the care and well-being of the animals than the personnel whose responsibility it is to care for them. These volunteers become possessive of the animals and start telling Jay and Ellie what should and should not be done. These misguided people are doing the animals a real disfavor. It appears to me that the many negative comments are the sour grapes of these individuals.
All of you (shamefully anonymous) critics need to visit the Gentle Barn on a Sunday morning and observe the smiles of joy and listen to the exclamations of happiness as young families share in the wonder of actually feeding and/or touching a horse, or goat, or llama. As we all do, the GB makes mistakes, but the coming together of a joyous place for young people and a safe haven for animals is an opportunity that our community cannot afford to lose.
John M. Clark
My name is Erich Lange and I was among the first volunteers to be banned from the Gentle Barn. But I was first and foremost a DONOR.
My initial experience with the Gentle Barn was in 2010 from a forwarded e-mail my wife received regarding the emergency rescue of 60 cows. To view a posted copy of that e-mail go to: http://www.lizardmarsh.net/2010/05/los-angeles-county-ca-sixty-sad.html
Up until that time I had never even heard of this organization. My wife and I were so taken in by the story that I stopped by their facility in person the following day, called the number on the sign, and was met at the gate by office staff member Darshan Sergi. I presented him with a check for $1000.00 and wrote on the comments section "Cows" (in reference to the 60 cows). He asked if I wanted a tour of the facility and I said no, I just wanted to help save those 60 cows. A more complete version of our stories can be found on my website: wherearethecows.webs.com
To this date, I still don't know what happened to the cows. While some of the other posters here may be "disgruntled" volunteers and employees, I would classify myself more as "one pissed-off donor"! We did become volunteers, fully believing are donation was going toward rescuing the cows, and spent roughly 8 months there before we were asked not to come back. The last time we were on the property and saw the animals we loved was on February 24, 2011, two years ago today. Not so happy anniversary :-( .
So, by now most of you know that the Gentle Barn is under investigation. This is not a "lie" or "false statement". I have spoken to the lead investigator and his assistant at the California Department of Justice, Office of the Attorney General. As horrible as some of the stories posted here are regarding animal neglect and mistreatment of volunteers and staff, I believe the reason for this particular investigation is in regard to the use of foundation money for personal purposes by the founder and her husband, and for fraudulent fund-raising practices.
I'm sure it is difficult for readers of these reviews to figure out what the truth is. Seriously, have you ever seen any other organization's reviews that seem to be either all good (5 stars), or all bad (1 star), with very little middle ground?
I have been attempting to sort out the truth for two years and have compiled a lot of information. I will be discussing what I have learned on a Facebook page called "Where are the Cows?" and also (eventually) in my book that goes by the same title "Where are the Cows?". Please join me on Facebook if you are interesting in finding answers. Answers that we as donors, former volunteers or employees, not only request, but demand. Answers and information you probably won't find on the Gentle Barn's Facebook page or their website.
Posted in honor, truth, and integrity,
Erich O. Lange, MSCE, P.E.
As a weekly volunteer at The Gentle Barn for more than two years, I have not experienced any of the negative problems that some reviewers have noted in their one star reviews. From my weekly experience volunteering in the barnyard, I can definitely state that The Gentle Barn maintains its premises in an exemplary manner. The volunteers and staff make cleanliness a priority. The animals are well taken care of and any animals that need treatment are seen by vets. I have personally witnessed animals receiving chiropractic treatments for arthritic conditions and treatments for other problems. Since most of the animals have been rescued from abuse, neglect, and adverse situations, they tend to have more physical problems as a result. The Gentle Barn works with all their animals, providing love, care, respect, and kindness each day. Believe me when I say that if I thought animals were being mistreated, I definitely would be vocal and take action. The truth is that the animals are being taken care of properly. This past year was a difficult one, because a number of the original animals died due to old age and problems associated with their former abuse and/or neglect. Almost all lived past their normal life span due to the care given them at The Gentle Barn. I have personally brought to the attention of Ellie or Michelle any concerns or animal health-related issues and have always been met with a thank you for letting me know or the vet has already been notified. Once when I informed Ellie that a goat had diarrhea, she immediately got a damp towel to gently clean and wipe the goat's behind. She added that the goat was started on medication already. This is not a description of someone who does not care, but just the opposite. I can only go by what I have personally seen and experienced. I am currently a sponsor, as well as, a volunteer. I intend to continue to do both to what I consider an outstanding organization.
As animal advocates and educated individuals, it is our responsibility to vet the organizations we support. It is our responsibility to hold them accountable to the highest standards – for the good of both the animals in their care and the overall health of the animal rescue community. We must question everything we read and everything we are told and not allow ourselves to fall victim to emotionally manipulative stories and photographs. And we must never, EVER allow the truth to be manipulated in any way. For all the animals we have ever loved, for all the animals who have made it to sanctuary and, most of all, for the millions and millions who NEVER WILL, we must endlessly seek the truth in every situation and live by our highest ethics.
If you are not allowed to ask questions, something is probably wrong. If the dates don't add up and the math doesn't work, something is probably wrong. If you're involved with an organization where you are not sure where the money is going, or where animal care seems negligent in any way, if that little nagging voice in your head starts saying something seems wrong...you are probably very right.
In April 2012 a popular animal sanctuary in Santa Clarita, California took in many severely abused animals from local authorities following an investigation of a now convicted backyard butcher. As quoted by the sanctuary's founder at the time of rescue, the animals were "...emaciated, malnourished, scared to death, they have infections, open sores, are infested with parasites, their eyes are infected causing blindness, their noses are runny and they have hacking coughs. They have high fevers..."
Over the past few weeks this sanctuary has been announcing births from some of the sheep rescued in last year's operation. This may bring joy to your hearts, as a lamb born into the safety of sanctuary is always wonderful news, but if you take a moment to research the gestation period of sheep, that joy may not be long-lasting. The gestation period for sheep is 145 days.
These sheep were rescued in April 2012 and started giving birth in January of 2013, which means they were impregnated six months after being brought to sanctuary.
Either this sanctuary is grossly unskilled at detecting the differences between male and female genitalia and, as a result of this ignorance, were not able to separate them at the time of rescue, or they simply allowed these sick and terrified animals to breed.
Evidence of neglect in basic understanding of reproduction and healthcare, or blatant breeding of rescued sheep should bring us all pause.
UPDATE 2/18/13: The sanctuary in question has responded to inquiries about the birth of the lambs with the following (names redacted):
"(......) policy is to never breed, if we have room for more animals we want to rescue them, not make them. When we rescued the animals from the backyard butcher, (......) was a tiny baby and when he was a couple of months old it was time to neuter him but he was very sick and the vet said we needed to wait to he could get stronger. we were going to separate him from the others but the vet assured us that he was too young to do anything. We neutered him when he was only 4 months old, but apparently he did do something. The babies that he has created will live in peace at (......) with their moms for the rest of their lives and the one male that was born will absolutely be neutered at 8 weeks!"
If this lamb was "tiny" at rescue in April and was neutered at four months of age, his surgery would have been in July. The sheep who have been giving birth over the last few weeks were impregnated in September - two months after they claim the lamb was neutered.
It is vital to question and verify everything, especially when the innocent are at risk of neglect or exploitation.
I have been a sponsor to a Gentle Barn animal for almost 3 years and have given a sponsorship as a Christmas gift to my most cherished sister. I SO wish there were a Gentle barn near me (Minnesota) so I, too, could hug, comfort and love abused animals back to health and the life they deserve. i truly do not know how an organization can be so committed to animals and fellow-sentient-beings that they give them homes until they pass into the next world. I've been a long-time volunteer at a local so-called Humane society - and have walked, played with and, yes, hugged some wonderful dogs - some got adopted and some (a crime in my mind) got sent back to where they came from. When two local "humane" socities tried to combine operations a few years ago, it brought out the same hateful, vitriolic words and actions that some of the posters have written here. When I heard that the director of the combined organization had a salary of $160,000 I quit the organization immediately. Hoow many homeless animals could this ghastly sum have helped find forever homes instead of giving them the "blue" cocktail. Someday my sister and I WILL have the joy of visiting the Gentle Barn and hug each and every animal they will let us hug. Please stop slandering this organization, which showers so many souls with love.
We went to the Gentle Barn last Sunday and had a wonderful time. There was a $10 donation at the door which we found reasonable and knew that it went to a good cause. It was left up to the parents of babies and young children how much they wanted to donate for them. We brushed cows and fed carrots to the horses. The orientation by the founder was interesting and informative. We thoroughly enjoyed the upper barnyard. We got to give a belly rub to a pig, cuddle a turkey and pet many goats. Some animals did not want to be approached or petted and that was respected. All the volunteers were pleasant and knowledgeable. Before we left we enjoyed vegan pizza and cupcakes. We all had a great time and will come back often.
I am a current and long term volunteer at the Gentle Barn. I was just reading many of the negative reviews from supposed former volunteers at the GB. Where in the world are these stories coming from? I work every week in the barnyard right in front of Jay & Ellie's house. There are no personal assistants, lavish parties or sick and dying animals. What a crock. Someone is really ticked off, but the stories are not true. The animals are very well taken care of in both locations. These people have shown to be very caring and concerned about all their animals, as are the staff and volunteers who work with them on a regular basis. Please continue to support this worthwhile organization. If anything should be questioned, it's the motive behind these hate attacks.
I started as a volunteer five years ago and have seen so many wonderful and magical things happen at the Gentle Barn.
The Gentle Barn is not only here to rescue and save hundreds of animals from likely death and abuse but also to teach children,!some learning disabled some physically disabled and some with no disabilities about violence prevention.
I have seen adults with disabilities go through here and leave with a smile from ear to ear.
I have helped raise 50 plus animals saving them from severe neglect and abuse. They are now strong and healthy and very happy to spend their lives here.
This is an amazing organization .
It's really sad that some of the past employees and volunteers who didn't see the big picture and were ultimately here for them selves trying to fill a void in their lives have stooped to such childish behavior and leave nasty and FALSE comments here.
Well you can't please all people but we shure do please all our animals!
As for living at the gentle barn, I am now currently employed by the gentle barn and as part of my pay am able to live on the premises so the animals are under constant supervision. Many of the animals need 24 hour care and that's why I'm here.
The coward "truthwillbeknown" who posted I must leave positive feedback is just that. You lash out at people for their own feelings and how dare you post anything different. You cower behind a false name and slander people for their views because they are not the same as yours.
Perhaps this behavior is why you were asked to leave?
Your statements are a false and you should just go on with your life and leave us to do our job and speak freely about what we love.
I am a different person now because of The Gentle Barn. For three years I have volunteered for the Gentle Barn and have seen first hand the MIRACLES they perform. I helped a terminally ill man hold a chicken which immediately produced a child like smile on his face a week before he passed on. I witnessed a troubled youth describe himself as dirty only to leave calling himself brave. I witnessed a wheelchair bound child get his first kiss from a horse, I have helped them with animals of neglect and abuse recover and be loved again. I've seen horribly sick animals get 24/7 hands on care and love, along with western and eastern medicine. I have seen numerous people give up meat and become Vegan saving tens of thousands of animals lives because of Ellie and Jay and the Gentle Barn. This last christmas The Gentle Barn and LAPD's P.A.L. program gave out over 200 "Cars 2 "toys to inner city under privileged kids. All this in three years. I look forward to volunteering 10 more years! So yes I am a very different person now, for the better. I highly recommend a visit to the Gentle Barn to see for yourself.
I hope if you are reading these reviews you will look at the wording of each of them a realize they are the same people changing their names. They have been asked to leave the gentle barn because of problems they were causing and now are upset. It's unfortunate they sit in front of a computer all day to leave lies and negative comments all over different sites because they hurting the animals in the process. Everything these people are doing is for personal gain and not trying to speak up for the animals. I hope you go to the gentle barn and see for yourself how crazy these people are and how absurd these lies and stories are.
Review from Guidestar
Sad to reveal the the truth about The Gentle Barn, I too thought this was a wonderful organazation, until recently receiving some very negative information about the GB not being on the up and up, being in the animal rescue circle, this type of news travels fast for the safe care of "our" animals. The Gentle Barn is currenting under investagation from the Attorney General, for good reason, mis-use of donations, as well as not caring for their animals as they state. I was on a GB blog today, 2/20/13 and yesterday 2/19/13, for the little filly with the deformed legs, from South Carolina, it is, as with all animals a very sad story. I received the information and decided to share this information with other bloggers, as always with these poor sweet animals, people will donate their last dime to help them, I posted on this particular site with the filly as I had noticed that the GB had put this post up seveal times, it is a heartbreaking picture. I suggested that the donors Google the GB to see what others had to say. Long story short, I also suggested this morning that we ask the GENTLE BARN to post pictures of the filly getting transfered from South Carolina to Kentucky for her surgery, her arrival there, the name of the vet and the hospital that is to do the surgery, as well as a picture story of this little gals recovery. I also mentioned "The 60 sad Cows from California" it was a huge donation effort on the part of GENTLE BARN, the cost was $200, 000, which was for the cows and the barns that were to be built. They did in fact raise this amount, then all news of the 60 cows was taken from all sites, and to this day not one barn has been built nor one of the 60 cows has anyone seen. Google all on the 60 sad Cows. After posting this today Gentle Barn deleted everything myself and others wrote about them and their practices. As well as all links to this page. They left all the postings that praise the GB and of course the ones that are donating to them, this action in itself speaks volumes.
If you continue to read all of these reviews, there is one from a lovely couple whom donated alot of time and money for the "60 Sad Cows" project and was also going to help with building of the barns, they are now banished from the Gentle Barn. There is also emails to and from this couple from Ellie and Jay that you can read yourself, it is very disturbing. Number one priority is of course the animals and their care, this must be stopped as soon as possible, secondary yet very important, is the donations going to these unscrupulous couple that are taking from big hearted anmal lovers even if it is their last dime. We must get them to prove their transparency with the animals and the donations. PLEASE HELP.
Thanks to everybody. I just wanted to let you know how much I appreciate this information. I know more now, than I did before about The Gentle Barn. I will now work to get something done about it. Thanks
Just to set the record straight, the Attorney General is NOT required to investigate all complaints that come into their office. Like so many other underfunded government organizations, they just do not have the staff to investigate any but the most well documented complaints about the most egregious financial issues. Given the fact that the California Attorney General has been investigating the Gentle Barn for over a year now, it makes sense that there is a very good reason for them to expend those resources. Where there is smoke, there is almost certainly fire.
I volunteer at The Gentle Barn and love it here! Don't miss out, come and get involved. There are thousands of people who love this place. Don't pay any attention to the small group of angry people with no life!
Shameful behavior by a disgruntled group who clearly have a personal vendetta against the founders. The only reason there is an investigation against them is because the state is required by law to investigate any and all claims made against any non-profit. The facts remain that no wrong-doing was discovered and they have been compliant and transparent throughout the process. The only reason it's still open is because this group is continuing to make false accusations that must be vetted by law. Shameful, putting the animals and the people who find sanctuary there at risk. Just shameful.
I've seen the Gentle Barn grow from its humble beginnings to what it is today. These accusations are preposterious. Ellie and Jay have always put the organization's needs above their own. They've made many many sacrifices and stayed the course in the face of extraordinary personal financial hardships. Anyone visiting the Gentle Barn will immediately realize that the animals who wind up in Jay and Ellie's care are the luckiest beings on the planet, especially considering their stories of abuse and neglect.
Jay and Ellie work hard to insure and provide for the long-term care of it's animals by continually improving the facilities and providing the highest quality care available to their animals. More importantly they emphasize efforts on immortalizing the animal's stories. In doing so, they create public awareness as to the horrors of factory farming and a host of other animal rights issues. I've met a number of families who've stopped consuming animal products as a direct result of their visit to the Gentle Barn.
In most organizations which experiences fast-paced growth, employees (or in this case volunteers) wind up feeling slighted due to their personal needs not getting met in some way. Or perhaps jealousy and contempt sets in due to unresolved issues or projections. It is malicious and down right vicious to retaliate with such unfounded accusations. I've witnessed first-hand how my contributions are used to care for the animals and, more importantly, how their stories are collected and re-told to make a huge impact on animal rights issues. I only fear how these unfounded projections might be percieved if no one was here to shed some real perspective.
I have been reading the reviews about the gentle barn. The reviews that give one star and do not support the gentle barn are true. Ellie started the gentle barn when she lived in tarzana on a half acre. I knew Ellie before she started the gentle barn. She had 2 horses that she was afraid of and couldn't ride. She then started collecting other animals. Her heart was in the right place at the time. Then Jay came into the picture and saw a perfect opportunity. It was and has always been about money for Jay. They had rescued a horse together and actually kept it at my place. Jay paid his board for a while, then stopped. He skipped out on 6 months of board and medications. He took it to Ellie's where the horse was in horrible conditions and too small of a place to be in. The horse coliced and passed away. The vets had been to Ellie's on many occasions due to Ellie feeding wrong food to the animals. Animal Reg had been out on many occasions. Jay is only in it for the money as I know first hand by our conversations. At the time Jay did not know anything about farm animals and I can pretty much bet that his knowledge has not changed. Ellie and Jay will take credit for things they haven't done. Unfortunatly, they have now gotten Ellen Degeneras involved in donating and P.R. for them. Ellie has been getting lots of money through Ellen and her show. Ellen Degeneras does not know what they have done in the past or what they are doing now. It's all a show for the cameras and Ellen when she shows up. Fortunatly Ellen is doing it for the animals but does not know all of what is going on. She does not know she is being used. I have known Ellie since the beginning and before the gentle barn. I met Jay when he first came into ellie's life and business. I know their history.....
I have read all the reviews here is the bottom line. The "volunteers" that are still there are there for the animals and are so afraid of going against Elllie and Jay. When I first started I thought the same thing. Then being an adult with eyes , a heart and a mind of my own I saw neglect. As do these "volunteers" now. So turn your blind and live with yourself. I too have met the vets and chiropractors. They do exist but can only do the treatments that Ellie "the doctor" will allow them. Thats why most vets left, ask the last vets that where there. I spoke to them. They said that the welfare of the animals is their goal but not Ellie and Jays. It was almost embarrassing to listen to Jay talk about what he knows.....all he knows is eating and spending $$. Vegan my ass. Yes really!! They will rarely do diagnostics, x-rays or any kind of surgery unless its a turkey or chicken. And did you know that most of the animals that die had cancer of some sort....and goats don't get blocked!! hmmmm maybe they should call Erin Brokovitch ..Until the Attorney General deals with them please don't give your money or your time...or your mandatory "donation" at the door . Its sad for the animals there as they are all loving and deserve the best....not be in a glorified petting zoo......with a crazy person who talks to animals....
I've never seen such selfish people running a so-called animal welfare. All in all, it's basically just a petting zoo, where they call the entrance fee a "donation". The main focus is to maximise profits, but definitely not in the best interest of the animals.
I remember they put a poor cow in front of the Staples Center to advertise themselves, that's something only the Ringling Bros. would normally do.
Without some apparently hired shills, this organisation probably would have only an overall rating of 1 star. There are so many cool & trustworthy charities in California, please don't waste your money for The Gentle Barn!