Bill Berloni isn’t a household name, but his work has appeared on stage, in movies, television shows and commercials for decades. He’s even won a Tony award. Berloni has spent the last 30 years training dogs that have graced the stage, film screen and television screen. Every single dog Berloni has trained has come from an animal shelter.
Berloni’s life as a dog trainer started out by chance. He was interested in becoming an actor and i was attending community college while working as a technical apprentice to help with stage productions in Connecticut. One of the new shows happened to need a trained dog but couldn’t afford an actual trainer. No one in the crew was interested in taking on the task of training a dog, and it ended up being passed onto Berloni as his responsibility.
Berloni had dogs as a child but was no animal expert at the time. He heard he could get a dog rather cheap at an animal shelter. Berloni visited several animal shelters and was shocked to find so many neglected dogs. One dog caught his eye. The dog was afraid of people and Berloni was told it was going to be put down the next day. The dog cost $7, but Bill only had $3 on him. So the next day he came back after borrowing $4 from his roommate and rescued the dog and began his career as a dog trainer.
Berloni and the crew began feeding the dog to win its trust. The dog slowly came around and starred in the original stage production of Annie. “It was fun to watch, especially with a dog that had been abused,” said Berloni. Soon Berloni got a huge break when the show moved to Broadway and he was asked to train another dog. Annie opened on Broadway as a huge success and Berloni became a famous animal trainer at only the age of 20.
After Berloni’s first experience with training a rescued dog he made a promise that he would use shelter animals for all his productions from then on. “In the first seven years of Annie, we rescued 10 dogs,” Berloni said. For the last 30 years Berloni has only used shelter animals. Although Berloni never became an actor he found the career that he was meant for. “There are paths we want to take and the paths that we should take, “said Berloni. In 2011 Berloni was honored with a Tony award for his work over the past three decades.