beware of false truths

Winter on a walk

Winter on a walk

I follow a handful of animal organizations on social media. Some are organizations that I know have taken in some of the animals I have had to say goodbye to. From 2002 – 2009, I worked at a private ranch. While there, I was in charge of the care and training of well over 25 different animals. When the economy came crashing down, so did my job. I not only lost my job, but had to watch all the animals get rehomed.

Recently, one of these animals came through on my Facebook page and what I read left me feeling sad. Gentle Barn is a non profit organization in California that takes in abused animals. Taken directly from their Facebook page:

The Gentle Barn Foundation is home to 135 animals rescued from abuse.

The Gentle Barn is host to abused children, kids recovering from substance abuse, kids on probation, foster kids, and children and adults with mental, emotional, and physical challenges.

Through the interaction with animals, the kids learn forgiveness, courage, strength, leadership skills, trust, empathy, and kindness. The healing that takes place when the kids get together with the animals is miraculous.

A cow, that I know of by the name of Autumn Joy, came across my Facebook feed. You

AJ and Lucy

AJ and Lucy

see, Autumn Joy (now known as Marilyn Monroe at GB), Lucy, and Winter (AJ’s son), were taken in by the Gentle Barn from the ranch I used to work at. The Gentle Barn was extremely kind to take them in for us. This is not a case of abused animals that needed a home or they would die, this was a case of Gentle Barn helping out a fellow barn. However, that’s not what they tell the public.

A picture of Autumn Joy (Marilyn Monroe) came through on my Facebook feed with this message attached to her bio:

Marilyn Monroe was raised on a private ranch as a pet, but not given much attention. When the ranch shut down she was going to be sent to slaughter but was given to us instead. She does not like people much and we have been working for years to earn her trust and respect. She is finally allowing us to brush and hug her, but only after showing her that we would always honor her wishes!

AJ receiving behavioral enrichment (carrots in a box)

AJ receiving behavioral enrichment (carrots in a box)

The first lie is that AJ did not receive much attention. She actually did because she was under my care. AJ came to us (the ranch) as a baby. She is actually a miniature panda cow. I don’t like to anthropomorphize animals much, but there really is

Lucy crushing her box

Lucy crushing her box

no other way to say it, AJ, did not care for me very much. The first time I entered her barn stall, she butted me into the wall. After that, I spent hours at her stall just reading to her. You might find this silly, but it gets the animal used to my scent and the sound of my voice. Eventually, AJ came around, but she was never a cow that loved being with people. We had a respectable relationship but she was not one to cuddle with people. She was far from being neglected as she was taught to wear a halter and go for walks with me. She received attention daily and was groomed often. When she got very dirty, she even received baths. Even though she was a cow, she got behavioral enrichment just like all the other animals.

The second lie here, is that she was going to be sent to slaughter. No, that is not true. That would have been going against the beliefs of the ranch I worked at. We were not a working ranch that raised animals for consumption. We were a ranch in which all these animals were “pets”. NO animal was at risk of losing their lives and being carted off to slaughter. Every animal that came into my care, was there for life.

I understand what is going on here. Sob stories bring in more money. Since Gentle Barn is a non profit organization taking in new animals all the time, they need to make money to support the care of these animals. Having a nice story about an animal coming into their care, doesn’t pull at the heartstrings, or the wallet, as much as saying an animal was saved from slaughter. A child from a good home asking for money to go to camp, won’t get as much attention as an orphan collecting money to go to camp. It’s just the way society is.

Marilyn Monroe (Autumn Joy) is just one of many animals looking to be sponsored on Gentle Barn’s sponsor page. Lucy, is there as well and she is also described as not having much attention and was going off to slaughter. Again, not true. I am thrilled to see that Lucy is great with interacting with GB’s visitors and also going to schools to interact with children. Unlike Autumn Joy, Lucy was always extremely friendly and I’m happy to read she continues to be so.

Winter taking a bow during a show for children

Winter taking a bow during a show for children

Winter (Autumn Joy’s son), seems to be missing from their sponsor page. This doesn’t mean he’s not at the Gentle Barn, or maybe he isn’t. Perhaps he was found a new home? Winter was truly a special animal. He was the bovine I used to interact with the public at our own ranch and he even learned a few behaviors to participate in an educational show for children.

I want to be very clear here. I am not discrediting Gentle Barn and their organization. Quite the contrary. They ARE a great place and they do wonderful things to rescue, rehabilitate and even home animals. I would not tell someone to not donate money to them. They are a good place, ran by good hearted people, who do extremely good things in this world for animals that are often neglected, abused and left for dead. Autumn Joy, Lucy, and Winter were special cases. They didn’t come from a place of neglect and they were never going to go off to slaughter. Gentle Barn did something very special for these 3 animals and took them under their care even though their future was not as bleak as other animals. I understand that giving them more of a sob story would bring them more donations. It is for this reason, I will not be going on their Facebook page and creating drama by setting the record straight, but I will say, it is very hard to read the cruel comments made by people under the impression that these animals were not loved and cared for. Be aware that not all you read is true out there. Some things are exaggerated for heart string effect.

© Semi-Charmed Life

* you can click on each image to make it bigger*


5 thoughts on “beware of false truths

    • Don’t feel too disheartened. Though what they said about these particular animals isn’t true, other animals in their facility and other facilities, did have terrible stories. Regardless of one’s past, these animals all need care today and places like Gentle Barn still need financial help. They still do good work, it was just hard for me to read the comments of people who thought these animals had been neglected and threatened to go off to slaughter.

  1. This is a hard situation for you and I understand it completely. Thank you for bringing this to the attention of your readers as not everyone is aware that this sort of thing goes on!

    ~Mia~ xx

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