Broadway Barks 14 Finds Forever Homes For Dogs & Cats

Cuddly canines and furry felines filled Shubert Alley on July 14 with the return of Broadway Barks, the annual pet adoption event that benefits New York City’s animal shelters.Barks founders Mary Tyler Moore and Bernadette Peters welcomed a throng of animal lovers who squeezed into the Alley for the 14th edition of the event, which included the always-popular star-studded parade of pets featuring everything from pocket-sized Chihuahuas to nearly horse-sized Great Danes.

Broadway legend Angela Lansbury helped Moore and Peters kick-off the festivities by honoring the impact Barks has had over the years.

“Thanks to your generosity, they have been able to find homes for hundreds and hundreds of wonderful dogs and cats,” the five-time Tony Award-winner told the crowd. “And together, Bernadette and Mary have made an enormous difference in the lives of New York City animals. They have also made a difference in the lives of the lucky people who are now sharing their homes and hearts with these lucky creatures.”

Lansbury also took the opportunity to congratulate Peters on her recently received and much-deserved special Tony Award for her humanitarian and charitable work, particularly in creating Broadway Barks and for her extraordinary commitment to Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.

After a special opening performance by The Craze from One Man, Two Guvnors and surrounded by tents and tables from 27 New York area shelters, a plethora of Broadway’s favorite stars turned into pet-walkers-for-the-afternoon as they introduced adoptable dogs and cats.

Steve Kazee, this year’s Tony winner for best leading actor in a musical for Once, said it had been a lifelong dream of his to help out at Broadway Barks.

“I would come all the time when I was in college at NYU,” Kazee said before taking the stage with a litter of pups from the ASPCA. “And when I was doing Spamalot right there at the Shubert, I’d come out between shows and watch. It’s seriously been a dream of mine forever and I’m so happy I get to finally help out.”

After posing for media pictures with an adorable puppy, Tony Award-winner Bebe Neuwirth arrived onstage with a tiny kitten in her arms, introducing herself as “the crazy cat lady” as she returned for an encore performance of introducing some of the felines up for adoption.

Many of the celebrities are drawn to Broadway Barks because of extraordinary relationships they’ve had with rescue animals.

Julie Halston, most recently seen in Anything Goes, rescued a very sickly cat almost 10 years ago, but Harvey is now strong and healthy. “There is nothing like adopting a rescue,” she said. “It’s one of the most gratifying things in the world.” And Tony-winner Michael Cerveris, now appearing in Evita, says one of the best decisions he’s ever made was adopting a shelter dog. His pup, Gibson, who passed away last year at 16, “was more welcome on Broadway than I was,” Cerveris joked.

Other presenters included Nina Arianda, Bill Berloni, Jackie Burns, Adam Chanler-Berat, Michael Cumpsty, John Dossett, Tom Edden, Martyn Ellis, Richard Fleeshman, Montego Glover, Joel Grey, Megan Hilty, Angelica Huston, Jeremy Jordan, Carol Kane, Judy Kaye, Celia Keenan-Bolger, Claire Lams, Dick Latessa, Linda Lavin, Caissie Levy, Norm Lewis, Kara Lindsay, Andrea McArdle, Audra McDonald, Michael McGrath, Judy McLane, Cristin Milioti, Rita Moreno, Rory O’Malley, Nancy Opel, Bryce Pinkham, Da’Vine Joy Randolph, Andrew Rannells, Jemima Rooper, Matt Saldivar, Chandra Lee Schwartz, Natalie Smith, Suzie Toase, Ben Vereen and Syndee Winters.

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.

Also this year, Peters and Moore recognized Main Line Animal Rescue of Chester Springs, PA, for its nearly 14 years of caring work, particularly a program called “Pit Bulls for the Blind” that trains pits as companions for the visually impaired. In a surprise announcement, Main Line said it would rescue any pet from the city’s Animal Care & Control that didn’t get adopted on-site. They ultimately went a step further, not only saving two dogs and six cats that weren’t adopted at Broadway Barks but also rescuing more than 30 additional animals from certain death at the shelter.The ASPCA, a proud sponsor of Broadway Barks, presented a check for $50,000 to Broadway Barks, delivered by Gail Buchwald, ASPCA senior vice president of the Adoption Center. 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 14, 2012, as “Broadway Barks Day” in New York.

Peters 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 2013 calendars are available through the Mayor’s Alliance for NYC’s Animals. Each is autographed by Bernadette Peters and features artwork by Bob Mackie and beautiful photos by Geoffrey Tischman, along with stories of 18 dogs that were rescued and found forever homes at Broadway Barks.

Broadway Barks 14, presented by Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS and produced by Scott T. Stevens, Patty Saccente and Richard Hester, was sponsored by the ASPCA and The New York Times.

Photos by Peter James Zielinski, Walter McBride and Rick Edwards