Jeanne Cannon says she doesn’t feel like a hero, but she’s saved and trained enough animals over the years to deserve praise.
Now around 70, the longtime Ramona resident has spent 30 years saving animals, primarily for the non-profit Help for the Homeless Pets.
Cannon, a mother of three grown children, said she got involved with the organization after meeting its founder Bea Hoskins. Cannon was working at Ramona Animal Hospital when Hoskins brought a dog from Newfoundland for an exam.
âI loved him and adopted him,â said Cannon, who discovered she had a lot in common with Hoskins and formed a friendship that spanned 30 years. “Bea invests a lot of money and effort in the animals she takes in and she mainly welcomes dogs with special needs, small ones.”
Hoskins said the dog was one of two Newfoundlanders who were thrown from a van in front of her as she picked pomegranates on a property near Highland Valley Road.
âShe is a true compassionate and caring friend who has never let me down,â Hoskins said of Cannon. âHe’s someone you can count on in the worst of times. We have always leaned on each other’s shoulders. He’s someone you don’t meet every day.
In addition to saving animals in Ramona and neighboring communities, Hoskins has rescued dogs and cats as far as Siberia. Cannon has helped save stray animals in Mexico. Sometimes dogs with special needs that have been injured or abused are brought to the United States.
But these days, Cannon mostly gathers supplies due to health concerns.
Hoskins said Cannon was rewarded, along with the other volunteers, for working tirelessly and without pay.
âEvery little money we have goes to animals,â said Hoskins, who founded Help for the Homeless Pets in Ramona in 1993. âWe never hired any employees.â
Cannon said she always had an affinity for animals, even though her parents never had more than one small dog. As a girl, she played with a farm set instead of dolls.
âIt’s always been in my blood from the start, even though I wasn’t raised that way,â she said.
By the time Cannon met Hoskins, she had already been living in Ramona for a decade with her husband, Jerry. While the couple were building their home in Ramona, they acquired a number of animals, including horses, pigs, sheep and chickens. By the time their house was built two years later, they had set up a whole farm.
âThe animals just kept on multiplying and when we moved here to four acres we ended up taking things that people didn’t want anymore,â Cannon said. âMy husband called them drive-bys. People were dropping off animals.
âWe had pets and we did wildlife rescues for a while and had some exotics. Our barn was always full and we had a variety of things. I had lots of interesting wildlife including skunks and raccoons. These are animals that have improved and have for the most part been released. “
As their menagerie grew, local school children visited his home to take lessons on his animals. Cannon would teach them vocabulary words, such as the difference between nocturnal and daytime, and also how to care for animals and be responsible pet owners.
Hoskins said she felt blessed to have met Cannon and a few others who genuinely care about animals and can be counted on to help them. Even if it means getting up in the middle of the night to set a living trap for a lost or abandoned animal.
âThe rewards are when these animals recover and trust people again,â Hoskins said. âNot all of them do. If we can find loving homes for them, that’s the rewarding part. These are the highlights. “
For a decade, Cannon also helped the San Diego Humane Society bring animals to nursing homes. Cannon told the elderly how she acquired the animals and how she took care of them.
When her daughter, Lisa, was 11 and involved in a 4-H club, she wanted to learn how to breed guide dog puppies. As Cannon learned more about training guide dogs, she became a leader. Thanks to Guide Dogs for the Blind, Inc. in San Rafael, Cannon took dog owners to stores and other places to teach them how to get dogs to behave in public.
She volunteered with guide dogs for the blind for 18 years. Lisa also continued to breed dogs with her husband after her marriage, and together the family has raised over 20 guide dogs.
In addition to his work with animals, Cannon has also contributed to other causes. One provided respite care to caregivers of terminally ill patients through the Elizabeth Hospice. Cannon said her 14 years volunteering with Elizabeth Hospice has been a rewarding experience.
One day, she met a woman at the checkout of a grocery store who told her about the Heart to Heart organization and its mission to help people in Romania who had lost their homes and jobs and were without food or clothes.
Cannon organized a clothes drive, recruiting local schools who held contests to see who could make the most clothes.
âThe kids would get rid of last year’s wardrobe anyway,â Cannon recalls. âFor a month, we put the clothes together and separated them into boys ‘and girls’ clothes, tops and bottoms, and approximate sizes. We put them in boxes of bananas that I continued to collect in grocery stores. “
Eventually, Cannon said they had enough clothing to fill a large storage unit. With financial help from the local wireless technology company Qualcomm, they put the clothes in a shipping container and shipped them to Romania.
âI have had many wonderful opportunities to live a life of love and I am blessed to have encountered these things,â said Cannon, noting that the first congregational church in Ramona that she attends has a motto of living a life of love. love life. âAnd that’s also my mission statement to be who I am. It suits us perfectly.
Over the years, Cannon has said that she has parted ways with many animals, but she still has four pigs, a few goats and alpacas, a llama, a deer, a miniature horse and an emu in addition to a few dogs and cats.
“If I was young and could live my life, that’s all I would do is continue to save animals that need a home,” she said, adding that she appreciates the help she receives from her husband. “This is my main reason for being, is to help animals and we have done a lot of it over the years.”
How to help
Anyone interested in helping Help for the Homeless Pets, a 501 (c) 3 nonprofit, can send donations to PO Box 1406, Ramona, CA 92065.
Animal adoptions are organized in conjunction with the AmazingDogs.org website at least twice a month at the Poway PetCoach store and at a private residence in Carlsbad, Hoskins said. Adoption event schedules are posted on the website.
For more information call 760-789-4483 or email [email protected]