The Denver Dumb Friends League, the largest independent, nonprofit, community-based animal shelter in the Rocky Mountains, is offering 50% off of adoption fees for dogs ages one to five from now until the end of May. As of right now, there are 125 dogs waiting for their forever homes.
Dumb Friends League frequently offers 50% off on adoption fees for senior dogs, which are historically the hardest to find homes for, but the animal rescue community has recently seen a new trend: a glut of younger dogs piling into shelters that are in need of loving families. Why is this?
“That’s the million dollar question,” said Katie Parker, Vice President of Sheltering at Dumb Friends League in Denver. “If I knew all the answers, I would be a very happy lady. Recently, we haven’t had any trouble moving senior pets out, which is fabulous. We don’t have that many in the shelter. We originally had a senior dog promotion planned for May, but once May rolled around, we realized that we didn’t have a lot of senior dogs available for adoption, and pivoted to the animals we really needed our community to focus on. This group of dogs between the ages of one and five are young, they’re energetic, and they have a lot of activity needs,” she said.
There are lots of sweet dogs in the one to five age range who need homes at Dumb Friends League, and they all have unique personalities. While puppies that come into the shelter get adopted out quickly, some dogs like Axel, a one-year-old pit bull with shiny black fur, floppy ears and puppy dog eyes, have been there for months on end. Axel is the shelter’s longest resident to date; he has been at Dumb Friends League since February, and it’s been 77 days since his last visit with a potential adoptee. He received a certificate of achievement for his good history with cats and small dogs, and he is a volunteer favorite. Axel is energetic and active and lives for playing fetch, so he needs an owner with an ample supply of tennis balls. Donors have provided a basket full of toys, dog food, and treats that will be gifted to whoever adopts Axel, as well as a harness and collar.
Clair is known for her hops. Clair is a three-year-old mixed breed, and is always bouncing up and down at the window to see everyone who comes by. Clair has lived with other dogs in the past and would do great in a home with other dogs and children ages eight and up. She loves to cuddle and eat treats, but she struggles with being fearful at times, so she needs a family that is willing to be patient with her while she comes out of her shell.
There’s Sheba, the one-year-old Siberian Husky, who has one blue eye and one brown eye. And Canelo, a five-year-old labrador retriever who is known as a bit of a “Houdini,” because he was always ready to climb the short fence and escape his previous home. Canelo is described as a “social butterfly” with people, but he doesn’t do great with other dogs. Sochi, the one-year-old Doberman Pinscher, is beloved by staff for his muppet-like appearance and goofy personality. His name translates to “flower.” His animal care team says that once he gets his energy out from playing, he loves to let you scratch his tummy and cuddle.
The end of the pandemic might be partially to blame for these recent trends. “The animals we’re seeing in our shelter were born during the pandemic. I don’t think they’re necessarily returns from a shelter, but maybe their family didn’t have the same amount of social activity when they were born, they were working from home, and now a couple of years in, things are going a little bit back to normal, and their parents might be going back to work. Kids are back in school full-time,” Parker explained.
Housing restrictions are another one of the most significant barriers to adopting out these dogs. Homeownership rates in Denver are on the decline, so many people are opting to live in apartment complexes that often have size and breed restrictions or charge pet rent. This can make owning a younger and bigger dog tricky.
“A big dog is easier to own when you live in a house with a yard, and you don’t have really close-by neighbors with dogs of their own. They can go outside and exercise in the yard and play and fetch. They don’t have to necessarily be leash locked. As housing is getting tighter and tighter in our city, which we know it is, people’s living situations are less natural and easy for big dogs,” Parker explained. Some apartment complexes have community dog runs or dog parks, and as renting becomes more the norm, apartments are becoming more dog-friendly. “Lots of people make it work, and we want to encourage people to do so if they have the means to,” Parker said.
In the meantime, 1600 volunteers are caring for these dogs but what they really need is a home. If you’re looking for a new companion, Denver Dumb Friends League’s promotion is going on until the end of May, and you could find your new best friend.