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Animal Rescue Group Needs Immediate Help

Vandals thwart some efforts by rescuers, volunteers still needed.

UPDATED Jan. 21, 2008 3:22 p.m.


ImageAs volunteers work to help more than 100 dogs found in deplorable conditions at a Lancaster compound last week, vandals have struck in the night, opening cages and poisoning the water supply with gasoline, resulting in dog fights and even sicker animals.

Ellie Laks, founder of The Gentle Barn, which is spearheading the rescue effort, said that of the 500 animals found last Tuesday, only 108 dogs remain to be adopted out.
Their initial discovery revealed a pregnant horse, an emu, goats, sheep a llama, pigs, turkeys, cats, chickens and more than 200 dogs living in filthy conditions on an abandoned compound in Lancaster.


All the large animals were taken to Animal Acres and to local veterinarians for treatment and care while Gentle Barn staff focused on rescuing the dogs. A dozen pregnant dogs were removed to safety over the weekend, much to Laks’ relief, and 100 dogs were adopted or given foster care until permanent homes can be found for them.


A security guard has been hired to watch the property which is allegedly owned by Ivan George Callais, Jr., a known animal abuser who was arrested by the FBI in April 2004 for a similar situation in Gorman where 72 dogs were impounded along with three pot-bellied pigs and two hogs. In September 2000, he was charged by Los Angeles City officials with running a kennel without a permit, resulting in 60 dogs being confiscated from his Burbank Boulevard residence. It was the second time there was a problem at the Woodland Hills location.


Officials from the L.A. County Animal Care and Control have not taken an active role in the rescue, telling Laks that their shelters were overpopulated. Because of the holiday, officials from the county were unavailable; Laks said they only gave a few dogs in the most serious condition veterinary care.


Laks said that Gentle Barn has a critical need for dog crates to help transport animals to a new location for adoption as well as people to help with the transport as well as donations of food and equipment for the animal treatment and housing. Cash donations toward veterinary bills are also appreciated.


“Please tell everyone that we really need people to adopt these dogs, even if they can just give them foster care until we can find permanent homes,” Laks said.


If you can help with donations of crates or have room for some canine companions who need a little TLC, please call Laks at (661) 886-0901. If you would like to make a donation, visit their website at or call (661) 252-2440.

Animal Rescue Group Needs Immediate Help

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