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Arthur Haggerty, 74; Trained, Supplied Dogs for Films, Ads

July 15, 2006|Dennis McLellan | Times Staff Writer

Captain Arthur J. Haggerty, a nationally known dog trainer who trained and supplied dogs for films, commercials and stage productions, and wrote three books dealing with animals, has died. He was 74.

Haggerty died of cancer July 3 in a hospice in West Palm Beach, Fla., said his daughter, Babette Haggerty-Brennan.

A New York native who grew up in the Bronx, Haggerty started training dogs when he was 10 and began showing terriers and boxers at local dog shows as a teenager.

Haggerty, who rose to the rank of captain in the Army and used the "captain" title in civilian life as a marketing device, received a Bronze Star and three Purple Heart medals in the Korean War. He later was a scout-dog training officer at Ft. Carson, Colo., Ft. Ord, Calif., and Ft. Benning, Ga.

In 1961, after his discharge, he returned to New York City, where he founded what became known as Captain Haggerty's School for Dogs. He trained dogs of all breeds to do such things as guard and attack, detect bombs and drugs, and trail people.

Haggerty, who had a large celebrity clientele that included talk-show host Jack Paar and U.N. Secretary-General U Thant, also trained and supplied dogs for use during the Vietnam War.

His theatrical agency supplied dogs for "All My Children," "The Guiding Light," the Broadway production of "Annie" and numerous movies and commercials.

A job supplying dogs for the 1973 Burt Reynolds crime-drama "Shamus" turned into an on-screen role for Haggerty: He appeared as a thug in several scenes with dogs and chased Reynolds through Central Park. He later played other small parts in movies such as "Married to the Mob" and "Honeymoon in Vegas."

With his trademark shaved head -- and a hulking 6-foot-3, 275-pound figure in his prime -- he also had an earlier stint appearing as "Mr. Clean," the Procter & Gamble household cleaner symbol, at trade shows.

He made about two dozen appearances on David Letterman's late-night show as well as on "The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson" and other talk programs.

Haggerty, who lectured across the country and conducted seminars at dog clubs and dog-training conferences, wrote hundreds of articles dealing with dogs and published the books "Dog Tricks," "How to Get Your Pet Into Show Business" and "How to Teach Your Dog to Talk."

Haggerty, who was divorced, lived in Los Angeles from the early 1990s until 2004. In addition to his daughter, he is survived by his brother, Gerard, and two grandchildren.

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