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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Natasha Salgado
Past Member 4 years ago

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...

karlie h.
karlie Harper5 years ago

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.

Kathy Perez
Kathy Johnson5 years ago

gotta love a good rescue story!

Deborah F.
Deborah F5 years ago

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

Pat W.
Pat W5 years ago


Barb Mann
Barb Mann5 years ago

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

Lynne B.
Lynne B5 years ago

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.

Carrie Anne Brown

great article, thanks for sharing :)

Lisa Zarafonetis
Lisa Zarafonetis5 years ago

Great news.

Darla G.
Darla G5 years ago

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.