It was a quest to save animals that began on a whim, acquiring its nonprofit status and making plans for growth along the way. Animals needed a home, and Canary Acres Animal Sanctuary was born to answer the call — and it all started with a pig named Bernie.
Canary Acres is a family-owned animal sanctuary in Glouster that started in early 2018, when a friend contacted Jon Rose and Devin Aeh Canary about an abandoned pig.
Rose, the vice-president and co-founder of Canary Acres, believes every animal deserves to have rights and wants to take it upon himself to grant those rights to animals he finds are being abandoned or cared for in the wrong way.
“We feel that every animal deserves to live and not be penned up in small structures, unable to go outside and walk around,” Rose said. “Just because they’re bigger or they oink or moo doesn’t mean they don’t deserve as much love as anyone else.”
Rose and Canary, who are married, have been animal rights activists for as long as they can remember.
Canary stopped eating meat when she was 12 and has worked with many animal rights groups over the years, but she knew the need for animal sanctuaries was too big to ignore. She wanted to take it upon herself to create a sanctuary for animals without being directly exposed to the abuse and trauma.
“Farm animals are often seen as property in our society and only valued in terms of what profit can be made from their bodies, milk and babies,” Canary, co-founder and president of Canary Acres, said. “Canary Acres is a place where a few lucky animals can escape that fate and know peace and love.”
After the couple saved Bernie, they got two other pigs named Hocus and Pocus, and from there it snowballed. They ended up rescuing a rabbit, seven chickens, three adult ducks and five ducklings.
The sanctuary is located on their property, which spans 15 acres. Ten to 12 of the acres are open pasture, and the property also has a creek and a pond, so enough room is available for the animals to wander around and for possible expansion of the enclosures in the future.
Rose and Canary had a barn on the property, but it was caving in and dangerous to be around so they took it down. They plan to rebuild it closer to the pond. In addition to the barn, they have a large chicken coop and a gazebo close to the house that serves as a hangout spot for some of the animals.
The couple got their nonprofit status in September of 2018. The nonprofit has a board of directors and operates on fundraisers and volunteers.
Jason Hiestand, a member of the board of directors for Canary Acres, started working with Rose and Canary on the sanctuary after being friends for years and sharing a love for animals.
“I think it’s really cool that we’re all bringing our collective abilities together,” Hiestand said. “I’m more business-savvy, so I bring that to the table, but we all bring our love of animals to the table. We’re providing long-term homes and care for animals who are neglected, and we’re making a difference in their lives.”
Canary Acres has hosted a few fundraisers to earn some funding for the sanctuary, including a “Beers for Bernie” event at Little Fish Brewing Company and a donation collection from a percentage of sales each Monday at Eclipse Company Store. Aside from monetary donations, Canary Acres also accepts old building supplies and other materials, and donations of time and volunteering.
As of now, Canary Acres doesn’t have enough room for any more animals until Rose and Canary finish remodeling the barn and creating more space to house the animals. It’s important to the owners the space they create is the ideal living arrangement for the animals, instead of taking them from one unjust situation and moving them to another.
The couple homeschools their two children, Evie and Nemi, and love incorporating the outside pasture and animals into their lesson plan to teach them about the unjust treatment of animals elsewhere and how to make a change in the lives of animals.
“Seeing the gentle way my children and their friends interact with the animals is my favorite part of the sanctuary,” Canary said. “This has affirmed my belief that compassion comes naturally, and it is only after years of being conditioned to push the compassion down and turn a blind eye to the suffering of animals that we are taught to see some animals as food and others as pets.”
Aside from the importance Rose and Canary find in teaching their children about animals and their rights, they, along with Hiestand, believe the true purpose of Canary Acres is to give animals a better life with safety and equal rights.
“We’re all on this planet together. Our roles may be different, but like it or not, we’re in this together,” Hiestand said. “As the dominant species on the planet, we have to respect and care for animals since they can’t do it for themselves. It doesn’t matter if they’re a dog, bird or buffalo. They’re individuals with personalities, and once you get to know them, you can’t turn a blind eye.”