Shelter dogs hope to find a new home through theater work

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SALT LAKE CITY — The story of a little girl without parents and her stray dog finding a home will become art imitating life this Christmas for several dogs at the Humane Society that are about to leap from the stage into the loving arms of a family.

Little orphan Annie and her dog, Sandy, are taking to the stage for Pioneer Theatre Company until Dec. 23. They also share the spotlight with canine co-stars from Utah making their debut.

Mikey, like every other Sandy since this show opened on Broadway in 1977, is a shelter dog rescued from a family that neglected him.

“The dog knows his job and, by the way, he’s great at it, and he’s adorable,” said actor Larry Cahn, who plays Oliver Warbucks.

Sami Staitman, who plays Annie, also has high praise for the dog. “He does know his commands. He does know his lines, very well,” she said.

But Sandy's not the only dog in “Annie.” He has canine co-stars, and they are hoping for a home of their own.

Toby lives at the Humane Society for now, but he and other residents have their moment in the footlights in "Annie" so they can be adopted and be rescued from a "hard knock life."

“Hopefully, we’ll only have Toby for a day or two because he gets adopted,” said actor and animal trainer Brian Michael Hoffman. “Then we get another dog in, so it’s just something great that we can do here.”

During Act 1, Annie runs away from the orphanage and encounters a stray dog she names Sandy and tells him things will be better from now on. But the dog’s sidekicks aren’t so lucky. One of them is captured by a dog catcher. A shelter animal from the Human Society of Utah will play the part of this unlucky canine.

Audience members will be told at every performance about each dog playing this unlucky dog and that it is available for adoption.

HSU will also be in the lobby of Pioneer Memorial Theatre during intermission to give audience members more information on the dog and hopefully find a new home to rescue these canine stars.

The musical runs through Dec. 23. For ticket information go to


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