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The Times has a great story today of a Broadway animal trainer who turns pets into stars, using only rescued animals. William Berloni has been training all sorts of animals for Broadway appearances for more than 30 years. His latest casting project is for the stage production of "Legally Blonde."


Mr. Berloni, who has trained animals for 42 Broadway shows, began his career more than 30 years ago, when he reached instant fame just out of high school with an Airedale Terrier mixed breed who played “Sandy” in the Broadway hit “Annie.” The terrier performed for the show’s entire seven-year run — 2,377 performances, the longest for any animal in Broadway history.

Mr. Berloni, a native of Higganum, in Middlesex County, has used only shelter animals since he cast Sandy, who had been abused, abandoned by his keeper and was only hours away from being euthanized when Mr. Berloni bought him for $7. And as he became known throughout the region for his work, shelters began contacting him when they knew he needed a particular type of dog or cat (or the occasional rat, like the one he trained for “The Woman in White”).


Given the tenor of many stories in New York's media, we really enjoy the opportunity to relate a profile such as this one. Mr. Berloni tells that the diminutive dogs chosen for their roles as Chihuahuas are Great Danes in personality and perfect for the Great White Way. The animal trainer runs a four-acre animal farm in New Jersey with his wife.

(Magoo, by ~Raymond at flickr)