Broadway Barks 11

July 11th was a special day for a lot of adorable but for the moment down on their luck dogs and cats, as 26 New York area shelters/rescue organizations and all of Broadway came together on a cool, breezy day in Shubert Alley to help homeless animals find forever homes at Broadway Barks 11.

“I’ve been involved with Barks almost since its inception and it always draws an incredible crowd, but this year may have been a record, thanks in part to the beautiful weather,” said Jane Hoffman, President of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals and one of the beneficiaries of the event. “Every year, we canvass the groups that participated to see how many animals found homes. Last year there were 125 adoptions. This year, I’m sure we’ll do at least that number, if not more.”

Mary, Bernadette and a cast of Broadway’s Best

Hosted by founders Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters, Broadway Barks 11 featured more than 40 Broadway stars, who took the stage to present a delightful selection of canines and felines.“I am so happy that the Broadway community has embraced Broadway Barks and the importance of adopting shelter animals, said Peters. “It’s a very sweet day for us all, but especially for the many animals that find loving homes.

“We’re so happy to be here and to see so many wonderful animals that we know you’ll fall in love with,” said Moore to a crowd of over 1,000 that filled Shubert Alley, pressing against the stage set up between the stage doors of the Booth and Shubert Theatres and emphasizing that cats and kittens, as well as dogs, were up for adoption, too.

Both stars stressed the philosophy behind Barks, which not only underscores pet adoption, but the importance of spaying, neutering and the goal of turning New York into a city of “no-kill” shelters that refuse to euthanize homeless animals. And Barks’ message is working. Since 2002, the euthanasia rate in NYC shelters has dropped from 74% to 38%.

The Famous & Their Frisky Friends

Backstage at the Schoenfeld Theatre, Bernadette Peters, Mary Tyler Moore and special guest Angela Lansbury (Blithe Spirit) were joined by David Hyde Pierce (Accent on Youth); Hope Davis (God of Carnage); Allison Janney (9 to 5); Matt Cavanaugh and Karen Olivo (West Side Story); Michael Urie (The Tempermentals and Ugly Betty) and Becky Newton (Ugly Betty); Constantine Maroulis (Rock of Ages);  Dee Hoty (Bye, Bye Birdie) and Mark Kudish (9 to 5); ); Haydn Gwynne (Billy Elliot) and Marcia Gay Harden (God of Carnage); Andy Karl and Stephanie J. Block (9 to 5) to met the press and have a “first hello” with a few of the pups they would be introducing from the stage.

Outside in Shubert Alley, Christine Ebersole (Blithe Spirit); Gavin Creel (Hair); Judy McLane (Mamma Mia); Bryce Ryness (Hair); Alice Ripley and J. Robert Sherman (Next to Normal); Michael Mastro (West Side Story) Christopher Sieber, John Tartaglia and Sutton Foster (Shrek), all taking time off between their Saturday matinee and evening performances, were joined on stage by Elizabeth Ashley (August, Osage County); Jayne Atkinson and Rupert Everett (Blithe Spirit); Audra McDonald (Twelfth Night); Will Swenson (Hair); David Bologna and Greg Jbara (Billy Elliot); John Glover (Waiting for Godot); Michael Cerveris (Hedda Gabler) and Michael O’Keefe; Kate Jennings Grant (Guys and Dolls); Carol Kane (Wicked); Zach Grenier (33 Variations); Tovah Feldshuh (Irena’s Vow); Li Jun Li, Nick Mayo and Loretta Ables Sayre (South Pacific); Jennifer Smith (A Tale of Two Cities) and Bill Berloni. Since the original 1977 production of Annie, when he found a homeless dog in a city shelter who he trained to play “Sandy”, Berloni has rescued, trained and placed scores of animals who have appeared in Broadway shows and national tours.

Donations, Auctions and Merchandise Sales

Produced by Scott T. Stevens, Patty Saccente and Richard Hester in collaboration with Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, money raised at Broadway Barks from a silent auction, signed memorabilia sales and donations is distributed to the participating shelters and rescue groups and as a larger gift to The Picasso Veterinary Fund. Part of the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, which provides grants to shelters and rescue groups to cover extraordinary veterinary costs.

This year, Broadway Barks received two generous donations of $50,000 each from sponsors PEDIGREE and The ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals).

2009’s silent auction featured a number of impressive lots and raised several thousand dollars, with a large portion of the fundraising total coming from “autograph hounds,” plus dogs signed by cast members from a number of Broadway shows, as well as a host of raffle items, including a signed copy of a script from the classic “Chuckles Bites the Dust” episode of “The Mary Tyler Moore Show,” an autographed glove from Bernadette’s acclaimed production of Gypsy, a “doggie day spa weekend” and more.

Gimme Shelters

Twenty-six animal shelters/agencies from throughout the New York area were on-hand, including: The ASPCA, Animal Care & Control of New York City (represented in all five boroughs), Adopt A Boxer Rescue, Animal Haven, Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons (ARF), BARC Shelter, Bideawee, Bobbi & the Strays, City Critters, Inc., The Humane Society of New York, The Husky House and KittyKind.

Other shelters and rescue agencies represented in Shubert Alley included: Long Island GreyHound Transfer, Loving Touch, Manhattan Valley Cat Rescue, Metropolitan Maltese Rescue, Mid-Atlantic Great Dane Rescue League, NYC Siamese Rescue, Pet-I-Care, P.L.U.T.O. Rescue, Russell Refuge, SaveKitty Foundation, Staten Island Council for Animal Welfare, Stray from the Heart and The Tigger Foundation.

Awarding Excellence

This year’s Barks was marked by several special events. Beginning at 1:00, Peters greeted fans in Shubert Alley and signed copies of her children’s book, Broadway Barks, a New York Times bestseller. Proceeds from the book, which tells the story of a musical dog who finds a home through the annual event, go to animal shelters and rescue units across the city. (Broadway Barks can be purchased through Broadway Cares at www.broadwaycares.org ).

Peters and Moore also presented the ASPCA Award to two interconnected New York programs: The New Hope Program of the City’s Animal Care and Control department, and The Mayor’s Alliance, which helps fund this initiative. New Hope staff works to “move animals out of AC&C shelters to the groups that are waiting to take them in,” said Moore, while Peters added, “Last year, close to 14,000 dogs and cats were transferred out of AC&C’s three shelters. Four out of five of the animals transferred were taken in by Alliance participating organizations.”

In a moving segment, the plight of homeless animals around the world was spotlighted as Terri Crisp and JD Winston of SPCA International received The Pedigree Award for “Operation Baghdad Pups,” a program that has helped safely transport over 150 animals – adopted by soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan – back to the states. They were joined by soldier Scott Harrison, and “Trigger,” a dog his unit adopted in Iraq and that Harrison later shipped home to his family in South Carolina.

The hosts also presented the 2009 Broadway Barks Certificate of Recognition to the ASPCA’s Mobile Spay/Neuter Clinics Program, which operates five mobile vans throughout the city, offering low-cost and sometimes free spay/neuter surgeries to the public as well as shelters, rescue and adoption groups.

Hoffman presented a framed Proclamation from the Office of the Mayor of the City of New York, Michael R. Bloomberg, proclaiming July 11, 2009 as Broadway Barks 11 Day!

Broadway Barks 11 was sponsored by The ASPCA, Pedigree andThe New York Times.

Special thanks to our BARKS photographers:

Peter James Zielinski:   Shubert Alley, outdoor stage and dog photos Walter McBride / Broadwayworld.com:   “Step-n-Repeat” indoor photos.