Broadway Barks…19 Years and Counting

The morning of the Broadway Barks event is always full of energy and excitement, and this year was no different. Everywhere you turned in Shubert Alley, volunteers were buzzing around like worker bees on a mission. Chairs and tables were quickly set up, theater professionals built a stage in the alley, and sound experts assembled a sound booth while electricians laid cable to provide power to all the equipment. Just like in the 18 years past, Shubert Alley was transformed from a quiet passageway in the theater district to the area’s main attraction. Yet there was something distinctly different about this year’s event—it was the first year without our beloved Mary. The amazing Mary Tyler Moore, who co-founded Broadway Barks with Bernadette Peters, passed away the previous January. And while the volunteers moved through their tasks as efficiently as always, you could tell that Mary was on everyone’s minds. Yet it wasn’t a sad occasion—it was joyous and hopeful, and Mary’s spirit was everywhere, along with her hope that every animal would find a loving and caring home.

The spirit of giving and positivity began long before the actual Broadway Barks show and adoption parade as theater fans and animal lovers alike queued up in the alley to get autographs from and photos of Broadway Barks co-founder and emcee Bernadette Peters and guest emcee Malcolm McDowell. T-shirts, hats, books, CDs, photos, and jewelry were sold to benefit the 27 shelters participating in this year’s adoption event. Folks who couldn’t wait in the long line because they had to get to early matinees, gladly and graciously made donations to support the cause. Volunteers came from far and wide—many who have returned every year to help animals find loving homes and to educate the public about the plight of homeless animals. The whole day had a joyful, collaborative atmosphere.

Once the autograph session ended and stage construction was complete, people began milling around the alley as the shelters and rescues arrived with their adoptable animals in tow. The weather was warm, but not too hot, and the dogs seemed to enjoy being out and about. Although the adoptable animals each had their own harrowing and sad stories, those were quickly forgotten as the focus shifted to getting petting and treats from everyone they met. Tails and tongues were wagging as the personalities of all the wonderful animals came shining through. A favorite of many was Patches, a tiny Chihuahua who was being cared for at Broadway Barks affiliate Bobbi and the Strays, who was calmly and happily cradled in the arms of his handler. When Patches finally made it to the stage to be introduced, the crowd let out a collective “Awww” because he was just so cute and everyone wanted the best for him.

The Broadway Barks adoption show kicked off with an emotional and touching tribute to the late Mary Tyler Moore. Ms. Peters, along with a children’s choir, sang a rendition of the The Mary Tyler Moore Show theme song that was arranged by Broadway’s Seth Rudetsky. It was a very moving moment and gave the audience and volunteers time to stop and ponder Mrs. Moore’s amazing career, her loving soul, and the powerful and lasting contribution she made to the cause of animal welfare. 27 shelters and rescues participated in this 19th year of Broadway Barks. Each shelter brought amazing adoptable animals that were fully vetted and ready to find forever homes. One shelter, NY Pet-I-Care, brought a pair of black lab brothers that were so tightly bonded the shelter didn’t want them to be separated. As luck would have it, the Wagner family of Somerset, New Jersey, had an eight-year-old female black lab and was looking for another lab to be her companion. The decision was quickly made, and the Wagner family took home both brothers!

Another one of the rescue participants, Little Shelter, had recently received a phone call about a litter of puppies in need from a family applying to Little Shelter’s Animal Soup Kitchen (designed to provide families in need with basic pet food and veterinary care.) As more details were revealed it was decided that the puppies would be put into Little Shelter’s care. When the puppies first arrived, Little Shelter’s medical staff could see that they were fighting off colds, parasites, and just about every nasty thing a puppy could catch. After a few weeks of treatment and care, the puppies became healthy, happy, and playful. Just as it was time for the pups to go to loving homes, Broadway Barks was coming up. As Little Shelter’s Public Relations & Marketing Coordinator Rowan Daray states, “We knew it was the perfect place for them to make their adoption debut. They got a lot of attention at the event—no one could resist their cute little faces! It’s no surprise that ALL the puppies found their ‘furever’ homes from this great event.”

Next year will be the 20th anniversary of Broadway Barks! As with every year before, we look forward to partnering with the amazing rescues and shelters that work so hard every day to care for animals in need. Mary Tyler Moore will always be in our hearts, and we will never stop working fulfill her dream of finding every animal a loving home. We hope that you will join us in this commitment and adopt a pet into your own family.