More loyal (and certainly more cuddly) than the swallows of Capistrano, dozens of adorable dogs and cats returned to Shubert Alley on July 9 for Broadway Barks 13, the annual pet adopt-a-thon that benefits New York City’s animal shelters.Barks founders Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters welcomed a throng of animal lovers who stood shoulder-to-shoulder and foot-to-paw at the late afternoon event, which included the always popular presentation of adoptable pets by more than 40 Broadway stars.
“I’m so happy that the Broadway community embraces Broadway Barks each year and so grateful to our friends at Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS for joining me in producing the event each year,” Peters told the crowd. “It’s a sweet day for all of us who are working to make New York City a more humane place for animals. So many find wonderful forever homes, many of them with folks working right here on Broadway!”
Moore added: “You have all helped us make so many wonderful changes for our four-legged friends here in New York. We are that much closer to turning New York City into a no-kill community.”
When Barks started 13 years ago it was the first time for the city’s rescue groups to work together. And while adoption rates steadily increase, “we still have so much to do,” Peters said.
“We need to continue to help raise awareness about spaying and neutering,” she urged. “It is so important for the health of your pets and for our community. Look at all of these amazing dogs and cats. We don’t need any more! Today, you will see how many perfect pets there are available for you to adopt without having to breed them.”
Broadway favorites served as “celebrity dog walkers,” presenting adoptable dogs of all sizes and several cats, too, sharing their frequently touching life stories while showcasing each animal’s winning personalities to the Shubert Alley crowd.
Several Broadway stars honored their own rescue animals as they encouraged others to take the plunge. Priscilla Queen of the Desert‘s Nick Adamssaid he rescued his German shepherd-collie-greyhound mix, Lady, a year ago, and Spider-man: Turn off the Dark‘s Michael Mulheren spoke endearingly about Izzy, the pup he rescued seven years ago from the Humane Society.
“I’m the owner of a rescue dog and I can tell you firsthand it enhances your life,” 2011 Tony Award winner John Larroquette (How to Succeed in Business…) told the crowd as he introduced two sweet, shaggy Maltese pups up for adoption. “If you have a place in your home and your heart, please rescue a dog.”
Other presenters included Nina Arianda and Michael McGrath (Born Yesterday); Heidi Blickenstaff, Jackie Hoffman, Bebe Neuwirth and Brad Oscar (The Addams Family); Steel Burkhardt, Matt DeAngelis, Josh Lamon, Paris Remillard and Kacie Sheik (Hair); Kerry Butler, Linda Hart and Aaron Tveit (Catch Me If You Can); Bobby Cannavale, Elizabeth Rodriguez and Yul Vázquez (The Motherf**ker With the Hat); Reeve Carney, T.V. Carpio, Jennifer Damiano, Isabel Keating and Patrick Page (Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark), Victoria Clark and Patina Miller (Sister Act), Paige Davis (Boeing-Boeing), Sutton Foster, Adam Godley, Joel Grey and John McMartin (Anything Goes), John Benjamin Hickey (The Normal Heart), Nikki M. James, Rory O’Malley and Andrew Rannells (The Book of Mormon), Beth Leavel (Baby It’s You), Judy McLane (Mamma Mia!), Will Swenson (Priscilla Queen of the Desert) and Bill Berloni, trainer to Broadway’s four-legged stars and behavior consultant for the Humane Society of New York.
From lovable mixed breeds to purebreds, Broadway Barks featured an array of charming pets from 27 New York City animal shelters and adoption agencies. Those represented included Animal Care & Control of NYC, Adopt A Boxer Rescue,American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Animal Haven, Anjellicle Cats Rescue, Animal Rescue Fund of the Hamptons, BARC, Bideawee, Bobbi & the Strays, City Critters, Humane Society of New York, Husky House, Kitty Kind,Long Island Greyhound Rescue, Loving Touch, Manhattan Valley Cat Rescue, Metropolitan Maltese Rescue, Mid Atlantic Great Dane Rescue, Pet-I-Care, PLUTO, Russell Refuge, SaveKitty Foundation, Sean Casey Animal Rescue, Stray from the Heart, Tigger Foundation, Urban Cat League and Waggin’ Train Rescue.
Broadway Barks 13 received two generous donations during the event. Gail Buchwald, ASPCA Senior Vice President of the Adoption Center presented a check for $50,000 to Broadway Barks.
And from this year’s new sponsor, Newman’s Own Organics, Nell Newman presented a $50,000 check to Broadway Barks. Newman also honored Out of the Pits, a pit bull terrier rescue organization that helps educate about the true nature of the American pit bull terrier. Board president Cydney Cross accepted the honor, explaining that Out of the Pits visits schools with their certified therapy pit bulls to teach humane education, while also helping to find new homes for more than 1,000 of these incredible creatures.
The sponsorship dollars and other funds raised from a raffle, silent auction, signed memorabilia sales and donations are distributed to the participating shelters and rescue groups and to the Picasso Veterinary Fund, administered by the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals, which provides grants to shelters and rescue groups to cover veterinary costs for animals with extreme medical needs.
Jane Hoffman, president of the Mayor’s Alliance for New York City’s Animals, shared Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s proclamation that declared July 9, 2011, as “Broadway Barks Day” in New York.
Peters, who returns to Broadway this fall in Follies, arrived early in Shubert Alley to sign her two children’s book, Broadway Barks and Stella is a Star!. Both books, published by Blue Apple Books, include a CD with an original song written and performed by Peters. They are available in the Broadway Cares Online Store.
Broadway Barks 13, presented by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and produced by Scott T. Stevens, Patty Saccente and Richard Hester, was sponsored by the ASPCA, Newman’s Own Organics and The New York Times.
All photos by Peter James Zielinski