The Gentle Barn Co-Founder Jay Weiner Explains The Healing Power of Love and Kindness
A Sentience Article from

FROM Lex Talamo,
November 2021

As to the healing work with animals and children, watching that process of seeing an animal come in such dire need, and a child come in such dire need, and watching them have this healing together… It’s why I do what I do. It’s what fuels my soul.

Gentle Barn
Jay, Ellie and Friends...

On an early Thursday morning in October, The Gentle Barn Co-Founder Jay Weiner sat in the office and prepared for an interview about his journey into rescue work, veganism, and compassionate living.
Keeping him company, just beyond the vision of his screen, rested 21 recuperating rabbits recently rescued from a research lab where they were subjected to inconceivable cruelty.

“We had them up at our healing center on another property, but that healing center is really made for bigger animals,” Weiner told Lady Freethinker (LFT). “So we decided we would remove the conference tables and push everything aside, and you can see that they’ve taken over the entire space.”

This is just a day in the life for Weiner and The Gentle Barn Co-Founder Ellie Laks, who started the nonprofit in 1999 after coming across a handful of animals at an abusive petting zoo. She had half an acre of land, a big heart, and a bigger vision — to establish safe spaces in every state to connect hurting animals with hurting humans, and through the healing process show people just how awesome animals are.

Weiner entered the scene as a volunteer struggling through an ugly divorce. He made an unexpected friend in a rooster named Olaf, who would come running across the barnyard to see him and would peck at his feet until Weiner picked him up.

happy Goats
Gentle Barn's happy Goats...

He also connected with the abused animals he rescued — from backyard butchers and slaughterhouses to hoarding situations — and found joy in helping Laks’ introduce youth with traumatic backgrounds to the animals who helped them find happiness and hope.

Somewhere along the way, the two fell in love. That half-acre plot of possibility expanded into two other The Gentle Barn locations, where people can tour and visit with animals, a Peace Enhancement program for people struggling with addiction issues, and a thriving volunteer and child literacy program where youth can read to the animals.

The nonprofit’s motto — “Teaching people kindness and compassion to animals, each other, and our planet” — has taken the couple far and allowed them to touch countless lives. 



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