Jay Jerrier is best known as owner-founder of the Cane Rosso restaurant chain, but his latest opening does not serve pizza.
Cane Rosso Rescue is a rescue center dedicated to pointers and Vizslas, the breeds that Jerrier has owned and has been rescuing for the past two years. Jerrier is so committed to the cause that he's leased a space in Carrollton that'll serve as an adoption center, with an opening set for this spring.
A lifelong dog lover, Jerrier and his wife Karen adopted their first Vizsla in 1998; "Cane Rosso" means "red dog" in Italian.
"We found this woman in Louisiana, she had a retired show dog she wanted to find a good home," he says. "Vizslas are not common and there's a kind of community that keeps tabs when one shows up in a shelter."
They slowly got sucked into the rescue world, helping out with donations, networking, and finding fosters. Slowly they accumulated more dogs. Their menagerie expanded to German short hairs and English pointers, members of the same family.
His family currently has two Vizslas, three English pointers, and one German short hair. "They're the pointy dogs that are affectionate and friendly," he says.
Then came the same inevitable predicament that every rescue organization experiences: More dogs, more requests, and not just in Dallas but Austin, San Antonio, Waco, Louisiana, Houston, Corpus Christi, Oklahoma, and Arizona. Whenever a Vizsla or pointer shows up at a shelter, Jerrier has unwittingly found himself on a short list of people who get called. Sudden road trips to pick up a dog in dire straits are not uncommon.
"It starts to get overwhelming, and while Facebook is useful, it also makes it worse," he says. "It's no longer that you hear about dogs by word of mouth, but you see all these dogs in desperate situations."
Abandoned pointers are especially plentiful in Texas because Texas has hunters.
"You have these hunters who dump them or turn them loose when they get old or tired or don't hunt — they treat them like a piece of equipment," he says. "These are a high-energy breed that needs a lot of attention. When we adopted our first German short hair, I used to pray for him to fall asleep. But they're the sweetest dogs, once they get to be three years old, they're incredibly loyal and affectionate."
Located at 1421 W. Main St. in Carrollton, the center will provide space for about a dozen animals who can be socialized and therefore more enticing for potential adopters. It has offices, kennels, a meeting room, and play yard. Jerrier has acquired his 501c3 status, a necessity for any legitimate rescue operation, and hired someone to oversee the program. There'll be a trainer at the facility who will trade services for free office space. And while they won't have a veterinarian on-site, Jerrier has established a network of vets with whom he works.
He's also working with Collin County students and members of the lacrosse team, for which his daughter plays, who will fulfill their community service requirements by volunteering at the rescue and possibly even fostering dogs.
"It's a lot to take on but it's something I’m passionate about, and I figure, why not put my money to good use," he says. "Hopefully, we can get the dogs in and then get them out and adopted. That's the goal."