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Broadway goes to the dogs

December 23, 2009

Published by Metro

‘The 101 Dalmatians Musical’ puts on a great show and rescues pups

It’s a variation of the classic rags-to-riches story: Abused dog with no home or loving family gets rescued, then becomes a star in “The 101 Dalmatians Musical.”

Joel Slaven and his team of trainers scour the country saving animals from humane societies and animal shelters. When Slaven first met Rascal, one of the dogs in the show, the Dalmatian puppy had a broken leg. His owners had abandoned him at the veterinarian.

“He had some bad breaks,” says Slaven, owner of Joel Slaven’s Professional Animals, Inc. “But he had this personality like, ‘Just give me a job, I’ll do anything!’”

Rascal performs in the final scene of “Dalmatians,” along with 14 other dogs (not 100 others).

“They perform [without kinks] 95 to 99 percent of the time,” says Slaven. The statistics are  “probably better than the children in the play,” he jokes.

The dogs travel with the cast and crew in an $800,000 temperature-controlled “puppy palace.”
After the show’s run, the dogs will either get adopted  — often by cast members  — or continue performing. Slaven and his company have found homes for 2,000 animals over the past 15 years.

As for Rascal,  “there are probably 50 people that would love to have him,” says Slaven.  “He’s got a very bright future.”

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