Death Row Girl Gets New Life as Broadway Star Understudy

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Tennessee and other southern states have larger populations of strays that overwhelm local shelters. One rural Tennessee stray was endearingly named Porky by the local shelter staff. She was a big, furry, friendly, sandy-colored terrier mix that won the hearts of everyone who worked with her.  In spite of attempts to find her a permanent home, it was determined that her time was up in order to make room for the influx of new animals.

Porky was led to the euthanasia room where she was placed on the table, and was prepared for her lethal injection. As the vet tech was getting ready to administer the shot, Porky slipped out of her collar and jumped from the the table into the arms of one of her caregivers who begged them to spare her. Everyone was so moved by the scene that Porky was given a 48-hour reprieve.

Porky was renamed Sandy by her shelter caregivers who felt she resembled the dog in the "Little Orphan Annie" comic strip and Broadway musical. They sent heart-felt emails describing her and explaining her plight. The email found its way to William Berloni, an animal trainer who has been responsible for rescuing dogs from shelters and turning them into stars, including Sunny, who currently plays Sandy on Broadway. Sunny was rescued from a Houston shelter, also with less than 48 hours to live.

Sunny, the shelter dog who currently stars in the Broadway musical as Sandy. Lilla Crawford stars as Annie.  Photo courtesy of the Dog Files.

Berloni had been searching for months for a new Sandy to be an understudy that could step in if Sunny can't perform for some reason. He changed Porky/Sandy's name to Casey, and took her and several other dogs to auditions in New York.

Berloni has just released a new book chronicling many touching stories of shelter rescue dogs that he's had the pleasure of working with over the last 30 years. "Broadway Tales: Heartfelt Stories of Rescued Dogs Who Became Showbiz Superstars" is available at Amazon.com and at Barnes & Noble for hard copy shipment or electronic download.

Twenty percent of his book royalties will be donated to The Sandy Fund at the Humane Society of New York, where Berloni does pet behavior consulting.  Also, look for a program on NBC coming up in October called "Annie's Search for Sandy." The show will feature Sunny, Casey, and other dogs' rags-to-riches stories.

For more information, visit Petside.com.

Furry Sandy-like dog photo courtesy of Asha Elizabeth Gupta.

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Barbara Baughman on September 6 at 12:15 PM said:

What a beautiful and heart warming story.
Linda Wenger on September 6 at 12:20 PM said:

What a heart warming story. Thank goodness Casey showed how much she wanted to survive and for the angels who were at her side. Wish we could get rid of all kill shelters. So many wonderful animals are put to death for no good reason. There are all kinds of other alternatives.
Libby on September 6 at 1:12 PM said:

If only there were enough Berloni's to save all of the shelter dogs in the world...<3 This is a beautiful story and William Berloni is to be commended highly!
Lea on September 6 at 7:33 PM said:

Hurray for the caregiver and vet tech, hurray for those that sent the emails out, and hurray for Berloni. A great big hug to Porky/Sandy/Casey! What a great story for a very pretty dog. She will have a blessed life now. I wonder if she gets confused with all the name changes.
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