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From Animal Shelter Stray to Broadway Star

From Animal Shelter Stray to Broadway Star

Photo: Actress Lilla Crawford, who plays Annie, with her new costar Sunny.

Four months ago, Sunny was a stray shelter mutt with an injured leg and only 48 hours to live before being euthanized. However, her story doesn’t end the way you might guess.

Instead of becoming one of the millions of pets euthanized in shelters each year, Sunny was plucked from a Houston animal shelter’s “death row,” driven to New York City, and given the chance to land the lead canine role in this fall’s revival of the musical Annie.

The NY Daily News reports on how the pup experienced such a dramatic turn of fate. Although the show had already narrowed down its talent search to three possible dogs, producer Arielle Tipper wanted a fourth option. With the help of William Berloni, animal trainer and behavior consultant for the Humane Society of New York, Tipper searched the websites of shelters around the country. When she saw Sunny’s photo online, she reportedly asked Berloni, “Save her.”

After arriving in New York, Sunny auditioned for and won the star role of Annie’s companion dog Sandy. The director, James Lapine, chose her based on her looks and temperament. As it turns out, the former stray has extraordinary athleticism, and is quite comfortable with walking on her hind legs!

On August 1, Sunny and Berloni will move into an apartment on the Upper West Side to begin training for her role. They will be accompanied by Sunny’s understudy Casey, who was also adopted from a shelter. In fact, every dog that has ever played Sandy on Broadway has been a shelter pup.

Since her miraculous rescue, Sunny has been featured on The Today Show, and is also the subject of an NBC documentary, Annie’s Search for Sandy. Meanwhile, Annie will begin preview performances in October. For every ticket sold through the end of 2013, Pedigree will donate $2 to a fund that helps dogs find forever homes—and thus, Sunny’s story comes full circle.

Photo Credit: NY Daily News


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Read more: Behavior & Communication, Do Good, Dogs, Fun, Humor & Inspiration, Life, News & Issues, Pets, , , , , , , , ,

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Molly Allison

Molly is a nature and travel enthusiast who is passionate about endangered languages, natural history, and women's and LGBT issues. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, reading, and hanging out with her three cats.


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5:06PM PDT on Mar 31, 2013

I'm very happy for these 2 sweeties who have been given a 2nd chance but it breaks my heart knowing millions who never make it...

11:54AM PDT on Sep 28, 2012

am glad Sunny got a chance to live her life. I wish it was the same for the other strays out there. i hope they live their life as well.

12:50PM PDT on Sep 27, 2012

gotta love a good rescue story!

11:19AM PDT on Aug 7, 2012

What a beautiful story! I wish all animals could find forever homes that are loving.

10:14PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012


3:05PM PDT on Jul 25, 2012

That's so cool! Makes me want to book tickets for Annie! Time to go see a Broadway Show!

1:09PM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

All my cats have been rescues. They live long healthy and happy lives. My life is enriched because of them. A house is not a home without pets, in my opinion.

3:37AM PDT on Jul 23, 2012

great article, thanks for sharing :)

11:50PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

Great news.

12:46PM PDT on Jul 22, 2012

So happy that they're using dogs from shelters. What happens to the dogs after the movie/play is over? I hope they go to good homes and not to another shelter.

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
Care2, Inc., its employees or advertisers.

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