Note: Dog rescues are even more important after a natural disaster. If you’re in Dallas and looking for other ways to help Houston, check out this Eater article. If you’re not in Dallas, check out these national fundraisers sponsored by JJ Watt and Kevin Hart.
We at Poached love dogs, so when I heard about Dallas restaurateur Jay Jerrier’s passion for “finding badass homes for badass dogs,” I knew I wanted to learn more. After founding the popular Cane Rosso pizzerias, he somehow found the time to start a non-profit focused on finding homes for abandoned dogs – Cane Rosso Rescue. According to the ASPCA, 3.3 million dogs go into shelters every year and with so many dogs looking for homes, it takes some serious effort to step in and work to solve the problem.
“Dogs have always been a huge part of my life,” explained Jerrier. “Our restaurant name, Cane Rosso, means Red Dog in Italian. The restaurant is named for my first dog in Texas – Zoli, a Vizsla. They have red fur.” Zoli inspired him to volunteer his time to the Texas Vizsla Rescue where he helped raise funds and transported animals. Soon he bridged out to work with other breeds and rescue groups – he’d caught the bug and wanted to help.
“When you work with rescue dogs, you realize how overwhelming the homeless dog problem is,” said Jerrier. “For bird dogs and hunting dogs in Texas, it’s particularly bad. Many get dumped for being too old to hunt or gun shy or just not interested in birds – but they make amazing family pets.” Wanting to make a difference in the lives of dogs – and their potential humans – Jerrier founded the rescue in 2014.
At first, they focused on supporting local dog rescue groups by creating a network of foster homes for abandoned or homeless dogs. Soon they began finding permanent homes for the dogs as well, but they weren’t done yet. “Our biggest achievement came in late 2016 when we opened our own rescue and training center in Carrollton, TX,” he said. “We have a 3000 square foot facility where we can house up to 15 dogs to get them healthy, do basic obedience training, and get them ready for adoption.”
Cane Rosso Rescue has many success stories but one stands out to Jerrier. “We took in this gigantic mixed breed dog named Jagger. He was really obnoxious when he first came to us. Our team worked with him over many months, and we actually got him placed with someone that is having him trained to be a therapy dog!”
He funds the project, as well as outreach to volunteers and donors, through his businesses – now nine restaurants including six in Dallas. “We leverage our social media presence to let people know about the amazing dogs we have in our program. We regularly host ‘Pups on the Patio’ events at our restaurants where we raise money and do adoption events for various dog rescue groups along with ours. We also partnered with Round It Up America to have a charitable donation line added to our credit card check outs, so people can round up their bills to the nearest dollar – and it all goes to the rescue!”
If you’re interested in creating your own charitable program, Jerrier has some pragmatic advice. “Make sure you have lots of money! You’ll have to fund a lot on your own until you can get your charity off the ground. Get organized and get your 501(c)(3) designation so charitable donations can be tax deductible. Make sure to integrate your charity with your restaurant brand – you, your staff, and your customers should all be passionate about the cause… everyone loves dogs! Make sure to find some strong volunteers and leaders to help you run it. I have such a great team spearheading the rescue group – it allows me to make sure I can stay focused on the restaurant business which is so brutal.”
If you want to help Jerrier and Cane Rosso Rescue, there are several ways to make a difference. You can donate online at canerossorescue.com or their Facebook page, facebook.com/canerossorescue. You can also buy items they need through their Amazon Wish List.
They are also always looking for volunteers in the Dallas/Ft. Worth area – reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Finally, you can always adopt a new friend! Head over to canerossorescue.com to see available dogs.