Gentle Barn Sanctuary Saves Animals From Backyard Butcher

A nearly blind goat, a malnourished calf, and a neglected horse now have a new home at the Santa Clarita, California, refuge.


man pats horse head
This horse is one of the first animals saved from Santa Clarita's "backyard butcher." (Photo: Gentle Barn Animal Sanctuary)

When Gentle Barn founder Ellie Laks and her husband, Jay Weiner, first found out about “the backyard butcher” in Santa Clarita four years ago, they began buying animals from him that were in the worst shape, NBC News reports.

The “backyard butcher”—a term used to define a person who slaughters animals for his or her own consumption—was finally arrested after Los Angeles Country Animal Control officials raided his compound last Tuesday.

In total, two dozen goats and sheep, five cows, 19 fowl, and one horse and cat were taken from the inhumane conditions. 

The horse, Sassy, is several hundred pounds underweight, with a bone-deep infection on her leg. “She’s filthy-dirty from head to toe,” said Laks.

Her Gentle Barn sanctuary is home to 130 formerly abused and neglected animals, ranging from chickens to draft horses.

As the animals heal, they become ambassadors and teachers for children who have suffered neglect, have special needs, or are living in at-risk environments.

When these children visit the Gentle Barn on field trips, they have an opportunity to not only pet and hold these animals, but to also reflect on the idea of forgiving and trusting people again after experiencing horror and torture.

For some of these children, a day at the Gentle Barn can be the first step in developing a deeper awareness of the interconnectedness between human and non-human animals, and of alternative paths out of violence and despair. 

To read more about the connection between human and animal abuse click here.

To make a donation to help the animals at the Gentle Barn, click here.