McGowan, who regularly supports animal rights and rescue organizations, was on hand to feed, clean and even hug just some of The Gentle Barn’s 130 rescue animals – including cows, horses, goats, pigs, chickens, llamas, turkeys, emus and peacocks.
The visit began with the animal sanctuary’s promoted “Hug-A-Cow” experience, a campaign inviting all visitors to hug a cow to feel the connection between all animals. Rose gave a tremendous hug to Buttercup and Buddha, while others were on hand to hug Holy and Madonna (which were named by The Gentle Barn supporter Ellen DeGeneres). Additionally, Rose was graciously surprised when The Gentle Barn co-founder Ellie Laks chose to name a newly rescued goat “Rose” as a thank you for her support.
The Gentle Barn Foundation is a non-profit organization that was founded in 1999 as a safe haven and place of recovery for abused farm animals and children. Its unique philosophy rehabilitates animals and connects their stories of survival and healing to the personal experiences of inner city, at-risk and special needs children and adults who have suffered physical, mental or emotional trauma. Unlike most therapy animals who are selected for their docile temperaments and raised for service from a young age, each of The Gentle Barn’s 130 farm animals has a history of neglect, abandonment and other abuses that are personally relevant to at-risk children. By interacting with the animals and taking a hands-on role in their welfare, those who participate in programs at The Gentle Barn learn empathy, kindness, strength, trust, forgiveness and leadership. The variety of programs offered promotes lifelong healing for both the people and the animals. The Gentle Barn is run by founder Ellie R. Laks and her partner Jay Weiner, both of whom were healed and supported by animals as children. They live on the six-acre property with their three children. The Gentle Barn is open to the public Sundays from 10:00am until 2:00pm.