Name: Alina Dhalla
Location: Lancaster, CA
Occupation: Animal Rights Activist & Gentle Barn Volunteer
Have you ever met someone and known right away that they’re going to change the world? Have you ever met someone and known that you just had to stay in touch because you wanted to see where life would take them; so you made sure to follow them on Social Media? This was exactly what happened just two short months ago when I met Alina Dhalla at The Gentle Barn; a sanctuary in Santa Clarita, CA that rescues farm animals from lives of abuse and saves many animals from slaughter.
While most teenagers spend their weekends with friends and looking for ways to sneak into the trendiest party in town, Alina spends every weekend volunteering between two different sanctuaries, facilitating rescues, and attending Pig Save Vigils at local slaughterhouses.
At just 16 years old she has rescued a chicken, a pig, and two sheep from slaughter, has made the choice to be vegan, and is constantly educating herself by going to auctions in attempts to learn more about saving animals and educating people on veganism.
As if that is not impressive enough, she has an expansive vocabulary and an ability to connect with all different kinds of people. When confronted with incorrect information such as when someone at GB made a comment about the Emu named Earl that she works with not being friendly; she has a mature and kind way of responding so that people understand the truth and can change their perspectives.
How did you get started volunteering at The Gentle Barn and working with Earl?
AD: I just got picked randomly after I put in an application. At first he was very intimidating, scary and snappy. He was aggressive and defensive but he’s really impacted my life.
Did you get trained?
AD: I didn’t get trained, I just had to learn.
Did you know anything about Emus before?
AD: Nope, but I learned about their anatomy and being used for different products like emu oil. I also found that they are very loving and compassionate.
Would you say an emu is your favorite animal?
AD: Yes, I would.
What was your first rescue story?
AD: It was Lucky, that’s how I got to know about Saving Grace Sanctuary. If I wasn’t there he would’ve been slaughtered, he was next. It was an open slaughterhouse, I took a screen shot of it and said “Mom, let’s go there”. I negotiated with them and said “Can you spare just one chicken?”
What was it like the first time you went to an auction?
AD: All they saw were dollar signs, all they saw was money. I don’t believe in paying for animals.
How long have you been vegan?
AD: Four months
How did you become an animal lover?
AD: It started out with a cat that kept stopping by our house. He was skin and bones and my mom said “Don’t start feeding it, it’ll come back every day”. I didn’t care, I was thinking about his condition. She was right, he did come back every day. I feel honored, instead of us adopting him, he adopted us. He’s impacted us. I would sit on the swing and he would cuddle, I felt like I had to return the favor.
Do you still have him?
AD: Yes, his name is Casper.
What has been the most challenging part of all of this?
AD: When I go to school, friends that don’t want to be friends anymore. I had a teacher who knows I’m vegan who explained to the whole class why vegan is the wrong diet. When I see people on social media eating burgers.
How do you respond?
AD: I try to write back saying my heart hurts, I don’t want to fight back.
How do you educate people who think animals are aggressive?
AD: I try to inform them that it depends on the way you treat the animal. It’s a defense mechanism; if they feel attacked and not safe, they try to tell you. But they love unconditionally.
Do you get offended?
AD: I think of Earl as this sweet thing who’s done so much for my life. It hurts me that people don’t know.
Do you have any other favorite animals?
AD: I really like sheep. It started when I went to an auction and witnessed a sheep that was about to be slaughtered. He made this noise like he wanted me to come back. I felt like there was this animal that needed me and I was walking away. I was able to save a mom and her baby, but the other baby I couldn’t get. I was like “Listen to her cry, she wants her mom”. It was sad and you could see the tears coming down her eyes. Doing a rescue isn’t easy, you can’t have high hopes I’ve learned.
What do you see happening in the future and where do you want your career to go?
AD: I see myself being successful, saving animals who are in the worst places and taking them away. I think I want to be a vet and have my own sanctuary for farm animals. It’s the adrenaline and the result of it that makes you feel great.
AD: Well that’s a good question, I don’t know. I see myself in California but I also see myself in third world countries like China. They believe dogs taste better when they are tortured.
What do you do on your days off?
AD: Instead of going to movies with friends, I conduct rescues, volunteer, go to Saving Grace and learn how to run a sanctuary, the physical and what it’s like. I rarely get to interact with the animals.
What is your definition of a Boss Girl?
AD: Someone that’s overpowering, someone who can do anything. It’s not just men. You’re your own boss, saving animals or doing whatever your heart desires.
What makes you stand out? What sets you apart?
AD: I rescue animals at a young age. Kids my age are worried about partying, hanging out with friends, and having a good reputation. I’m worried about the world. How can I save a life? How many can I save in a week?
Who is a Boss Girl that inspires you?
AD: Well that’s hard. There’s this lady named Anita, she’s an animal activist and she’s actually from Canada. She started the pig vigil and was supposed to go to jail. She was giving pigs water and the truck driver didn’t like that she was being compassionate, but the case was closed. She’s awesome, she started it all.
Who is a Boss Girl you would want to spend the day with?
AD: A BG I would want to hang out with would be Ellie, the founder of The Gentle Barn. I would like to be her for one day. To see what it’s like, to be exposed to a lot more. I’ve never been inside a slaughterhouse to take the animal out. Any rescue mission with Ellie, I would love to go to a Dairy Farm next.
Alina Dhalla is a Boss Girl. Here is my story about meeting Alina.
More about The Gentle Barn
More about Anita Krajnc