Dumb Friends League Provides Care and A Voice for Those Who Cannot Speak for Themselves
In Colorado, 100,000 lost and unwanted cats and dogs enter shelters annually. Thousands more, especially cats, are homeless. Owned cats and strays reproduce unwanted litters. Puppies are born in large-scale, substandard breeding operations, adding to the overpopulation problem. Hundreds of owned horses and pets suffer from neglect or abuse.
For more than 100 years, the Dumb Friends League has been offering shelter to lost and relinquished pets, adopting pets to new homes, investigating animal cruelty, reducing pet overpopulation, and educating the public about animals and their needs.
With shelters in Denver, Colo., and Castle Rock, Colo., plus a storefront adoption site, it is the largest community-based animal sheltering organization in the Rocky Mountain region, offering shelter, care and adoption services to a variety of animals, including cats, dogs, rabbits, and small pets. Its new equine center, opened in 2012, provides relief from suffering, rehabilitation and adoption to horses that have endured abuse and neglect.
The two pet shelters maintain an open-admission policy, which means that no animals are turned away. An average of 69 new pets arrive daily.
There is no set time limit for pets at the shelters. Some stay for weeks or months. As many as 4,000 a year receive extra help through in-house enrichment, training and special adoption programs. Foster and medical care are provided, as well. In FY 2011, a total of 19,535 pets were reunited with owners, placed in new homes or transferred to partnering organizations. Eighty percent of all cats and dogs were placed; the national average is less than 50 percent.
The Dumb Friends League has four state-commissioned officers who investigate approximately 1,400 situations annually involving cruelty, neglect or abandonment of companion animals and horses in the metro-Denver area. Through its new affiliate agency, an additional four officers protect animals in 16 rural counties. In FY 2011, its first year of operation, the new agency received 748 reports of abuse.
A key component of the Dumb Friends League mission is educating the public about animal welfare. Working with 14 volunteers, in 2011 its humane education team reached 12,625 children and adults through 714 presentations and shelter tours. Animal Adventures, an in-depth, six-week program, was taught at 13 schools. The program will expand in the coming months to include training for local law enforcement agencies on responsible equine care and recognizing signs of animal neglect or abuse.
The new Dumb Friends League Harmony Equine Center provides relief from suffering and opportunities for rehabilitation and adoption for horses, ponies, donkeys and mules. As many as 500 animals can be accommodated at the 168-acre Center over the course of a year. The animals are brought to the Center by law enforcement, and among them are horses that are seized and impounded, as well as animals that are relinquished by owners as part of a formal investigation and/or criminal proceedings. Rehabilitated horses are offered for adoption to responsible owners.
Fundraising efforts are ongoing and include an annual two-mile walk for animals called the Furry Scurry, now the largest pledge event of its kind in the nation. In May 2011, it drew an estimated 11,000 people and 5,000 dogs to Denver’s Washington Park. With 5,484 registered participants and 175 vendors, exhibitors and sponsors, it brought in a record $1,037,544!
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Dumb Friends League
The Dumb Friends League is committed to the welfare of animals: provide shelter and care for animals, provide programs and services that enhance the bond between animals and people, advocate for animals—speaking for those who cannot speak for themselves.
- 22,130 impressions on children and adults were made through 714 humane education programs
- 24,475 pets were received, 19,535 pets were saved, 45.5 pets per day were placed
- 7,465 donor-subsidized spay/neuter surgeries were performed on owned cats and dogs in underserved areas
- 1,428 cases of cruelty, neglect and abandonment were investigated