Broadway Barks is an annual star-studded cat and dog adoption event held in the heart of New York City’s theater district. Now in its 16th year, with more than 25 participating rescue groups and shelters, Broadway Barks is a wonderful event that could help you find your next pet. There aren’t many other opportunities to see so many animals from multiple shelters and rescue groups all in one place! And because the dogs are often not penned, you can see how they behave in a busy atmosphere around other humans and dogs. For cat lovers, there is a section just for you; although this article focuses mainly on dog adoption, many of these same principles also apply to cat adoption.
Preparation is Key
When you go to Broadway Barks, you don’t have to be ready to take your new friend home that afternoon, but careful preparation can help you make the most of this unique event! Remember, Broadway Barks is an event, not a shelter, so you won’t be adopting directly from Broadway Barks. You’ll adopt from one of the participating shelters or rescue groups. So be prepared to fill out the individual shelter or rescue’s application for each animal you are interested in, and they will get back to you independently. Each participating rescue group has its own process and fees for adopting, but there are no fees for applying, and the application is not a commitment. You’ll probably fill out several applications before you go home. Even though you won’t take home an animal that day, you should be prepared to take one home in the next few days if you want to be sure to get a particular cat or dog.
If you are ready to adopt a cat or dog, it’s a great idea to arrive ready to fill out several applications. Many animals will attract multiple applications, and filling out an application for each animal you are interested in will help you and the rescue ensure a perfect match. Of course, you came to Broadway Barks because you love dogs, not paperwork! Fortunately, there are some things you can bring that will minimize your time filling out applications and free you up to enjoy the dogs. You’ll want to have two or three personal references handy, including names, addresses, telephone numbers, and email addresses. You’ll also need to have your veterinarian’s contact information, if you have other pets or have had pets previously. Also, before you come to the event, check your lease for any restrictions on dog breeds and sizes, and bring paper copies of proof of residence and documentation that you are allowed to have a pet. You don’t need the paperwork in your hand at Broadway Barks, but if you want to follow through with an application, you will need to provide it quickly. It’s a good idea to have paper copies of these items because it is sometimes difficult to get an Internet connection at the event, or to see a smartphone in the bright sunlight, and most shelters and rescues will want a physical copy of any documentation. You can also scan and email or fax the documents to the shelter. A smartphone or camera is still useful for taking photos of the dogs you meet. You’ll also want a pen and some paper with you to take notes as you meet dogs and talk to the volunteers, so you can remember details about the dogs you’re interested in and find them again.
Try to bring every family member to Broadway Barks, as some rescues won’t release an animal until everyone in the household, including any dogs you already have, have been introduced. If you have a cat at home, the shelter volunteers can tell you if the dog gets along with cats, or they can cat test the dog back at the shelter. Also, be ready to talk to the volunteers about how much activity, exercise, and company your new dog can expect to have, and if it will need to be gentle with toddlers or other fragile people. If you have questions, there will be plenty of people around to help you, mostly volunteers, who want to make sure you have a great adoption experience and find forever homes for the animals in their care.
If everyone in your home is at work or school all day, research nearby dog daycares or dog-walking services, and find out if they will be in your budget. You will usually be asked to indicate how long the dog will be left alone each day; if you plan to provide socialization and exercise while at work, more dogs might be an option for you. It’s important to be honest about this on your application. It won’t be used to keep you from getting a dog; it’s used to match you with the dog who will be best for you and your situation.
Once it has been determined that you are the perfect match for a cat or dog, the rescue or shelter staff will check your references and ask for your lease or other housing information. Some rescues may ask to conduct a home visit to see where your new pet will live, or to meet any other pets you may have. Once all checks are complete, they will work with you to set a time for you to pick up your new family member. Be aware that while most of the shelters/rescue groups are located in NYC, a few are located in Long Island, New Jersey, Westchester, and sometimes even farther, so you may need a car to pick up some dogs. Though, if the love of your life is in another town, it’s worth a special trip!
Setting Search Criteria
It is helpful to have some criteria in mind when searching for your new pet. If you have a sixth-floor walkup, you probably shouldn’t adopt a 90-pound dog with arthritis. And if you have small children, a delicate Chihuahua might not be the best choice. Of course, remaining flexible regarding breed, sex, age, etc., will help you match to more animals. Keeping an open mind about different age groups is really important. Puppies are cute, but they take a lot of effort, time, and patience. They don’t know how to behave in a home yet. An older dog has usually already been housebroken, knows how to walk on a leash, may know some basic commands, and is used to the idea that some things aren’t for jumping on, chewing, or eating. A new puppy will have to learn all those things, from you! The myths that older dogs don’t bond with their new families, are harder to train, or can’t be socialized, are just that—myths. Older dogs can learn anything a puppy can, and they can be very cute, too!
After narrowing down the possibilities based on energy level, size limitations, family member needs, and other practical matters, you’ll still probably find several dogs you’d love to consider adopting. It’s OK to fill out applications for every dog you would consider; remember, many dogs will attract several applications, so if you only apply for one, you can’t be certain you’ll be selected.
Arriving early is important at many events, but you don’t need to worry about that at Broadway Barks. Since adoptions aren’t finalized that day, there’s no reason not to hang back and give dogs a chance to get used to their surroundings. Circle back to meet dogs a second time, too! A dog who was shy with you initially may greet you like an old friend when you return.
This year, Broadway Barks will be held on Saturday, July 12, and it is FREE and open to the public. It is sure to be a spectacular event. Festivities start at noon with an autograph session with Broadway Barks co-founder and entertainment legend Bernadette Peters! The animals start arriving about 3:00pm, and the celebrity presentation of adoptable animals begins at 5:00pm and runs until 6:30pm. Because the event is scheduled right in between the matinee and evening shows on Broadway, you will often see Broadway’s best and brightest mingling in the crowd and meeting the animals before the adoption show starts. Once the show begins, many of Broadway’s biggest stars will go on stage to introduce the animals available for adoption! And the whole event will be over in time for you to grab a bite and see a show yourself! Here’s hoping that you join us in finding your next best friend at Broadway Barks. And, remember, even if you aren’t in the market to adopt, you’re still more than welcome to come and give head scratches and belly rubs, and to enjoy all the fabulous entertainment. See you there!
By Denise Ivanoff and Charlene Sloan