New Buffalo restaurant gives to animals in need

NEW BUFFALO After a year of rebuilding, owners at the Stray Dog Bar and Grill weren't focused on a former charity they started in 2010.

The New Buffalo hot spot was destroyed by fire in the summer of 2012, but they re-opened for a successful season in 2013. The added stress of putting the pieces back together left the owners, Marc and Leslie Danesi, with little time for much else.

"This year, we really weren't focused on the Jack Fund at all," said Leslie Danesi, one of the owners of the Stray Dog.

So, it was the Danesi's 18-year-old son, Nick, who saw the restaurant's success and decided to push forward with the Jack Fund, a way to give back to the community who helped them rebuild.

"By about August, my son kept saying, 'what about the Jack fund, what about the Jack Fund,'" said Leslie. "And we were so overtaken by everything that had happened, and trying to get back on our feet, that he was very instrumental in re-starting the charity."

"My parents were really focused on re-opening the restaurant in 2013," said Nick Danesi. "I really wanted to keep the Jack Fund going."

The Jack Fund is a charity, started in 2010, by the Danesi's daughter, to raise funds for the Michiana Humane Society. That's where Jack, the namesake of the restaurant, was found.

"In their hearts they really think about dogs and they wanted to give back to the community in that way," said Leslie.

In all, the Danesi's have been able to give $8,500 to the Michiana Humane Society. But they say, 2013 was by far the best year. They sold over 250 shirts to give over $3,200 to the shelter.

"It sold out so quickly we know we can do the same type of contributions each year," said Leslie.

And the donation goes a long way.

"It's really critical to us to get contributions from the community," said Johanna Humbert, the Executive Director at the humane society. "We don't get any tax dollars here. So to get the proceeds from the Jack Fund makes a huge difference to us."

Text that will become a linkThe Michiana Humane Society serves nearly 1,400 animals a year, with costs of up to $30,000 a month.

For more information about The Stray Dog Bar and Grill visit their website.

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