By Robin Russell, volunteer writer

GROWLING has recently been heard at legislative sessions hosted by the Colorado General Assembly. No, not that kind! This growling is coming from advocates at the Dumb Friends League. What’s that, you say?

GROWL, which stands for Grass Roots Outreach with the League, is a group of about 70 staff, volunteers, and external partners working to expand the League’s advocacy programs for policies and laws that protect animals and their welfare. 

Ali Mickelson, Director of Advocacy, joined the Dumb Friends League in 2019, and we have her to thank for starting GROWL and getting us involved in a different way with animal welfare. She works to help the organization be more effective in guiding public policy and keeping internal and external stakeholders informed. Ali works closely with senators and representatives in the Colorado General Assembly who are also animal welfare advocates.

So, what are some key accomplishments of GROWL’s work with the Colorado General Assembly? Recently, GROWL proactively supported two bills: one to set a Socially Conscious Sheltering standard across the state, and the other to reform the Bureau of Animal Protection (BAP) to investigate animal welfare issues. The latter was important to the Colorado Humane Society, a program of the League that works closely with BAP. Ali was pleased to report that elements of both bills were included in the enacted legislation.

This year’s session has just begun, and GROWL is currently advocating for two changes to the Colorado Veterinary Practice Act (which is under review):

  • One hopes to relax guidelines on who can administer rabies vaccinations in shelter settings. This is important since the League has close to 20 veterinarians who already stay busy providing veterinary services in our shelters and across the community. This change would also benefit our smaller, more rural partners and has already received a strong vote of confidence from the state’s Department of Regulatory Agencies (DORA).
  • The other proposed change advocates for the creation of a career path for a mid-level veterinary practitioner – like a physician’s assistant, but for animal patients. Since there are few veterinarians available and veterinary schools are at capacity, this would free up time for licensed veterinarians to focus on tasks requiring a DVM or equivalent degree. This mid-level position would require a master’s degree in Veterinary Clinical Care and could be a good promotional track for veterinary technicians.

Trust Ali to keep GROWL members informed of the group’s progress through her weekly emails. She also includes local issues (including last year’s pit bull law revisions), as well as statewide and national legislation. Members can even sign up to receive advocacy tips and action alerts about local issues. These resources are extremely important to those who are passionate about animal welfare, including VIP readers.

If you’d like to join GROWL and help the League expand its influence even further, please email Ali Mickelson at She will add you to the email list and send you ways to get involved. Participation is voluntary, and you’re under no obligation to take any action. But we think you’ll want to.