Dear wonderful volunteers,

The Dumb Friends League is in the midst of the busiest season at our shelters and at Harmony Equine Center™. Not a day goes by when your impact isn’t felt, and during this time of year, your work is even more critical to fulfilling our commitment to pets, horses, and people in our community. Simply put, we would not be able to house, heal, enrich, train, and connect all the animals who need us without you.

The League designs our work thoughtfully, and there is almost always a good reason for every procedure and rule. We are also committed to constant improvement and our work continually evolves in response to changing needs. For example, our shelters are currently seeing animals with more intensive medical and behavioral needs, which has led to an increase in the average amount of time that animals are in the shelter. We call this “length of stay” or “LOS.” This increased LOS is not only due to animals needing more services, but also to animals waiting longer for their new homes once they are on the adoption floor. Some of the urgency around choosing adoption when acquiring a new pet has gone away, very likely because for years there were fewer animals available for adoption in many shelters. But that trend has reversed, and we need your help to spread the message that wonderful animals are in our shelters just waiting for someone to adopt them.

It is interesting to think about LOS and workload. When we multiply the LOS times the number of animals we cared for last year and compare that number to what we saw just before the pandemic, we can understand why our shelters feel so busy. In 2019, we provided around 50,000 total days of care in our shelters, and in the most recent fiscal year, which just ended on June 30, that number increased to approximately 80,000 days of care! That means there were 30,000 more days to feed, heal, walk, and clean the animals at the League. We have significantly increased staff to serve this need, but without you, we wouldn’t be able to care for all these animals in need.

Not only do we improve animals’ lives through direct care, but we are also leading external conversations addressing the critical issue of the veterinarian shortage. It is estimated that over 75 million pets will go without veterinary care in the next seven years because there are not enough veterinarians and veterinary technicians to provide care. There is no issue that threatens animal welfare more broadly than this shortage. We need your help as we drive the creation of a “VPA,” which is a master’s degree-level Veterinary Professional Associate who will work under the supervision of a licensed veterinarian to increase access to care and decrease the cost of veterinary services. Sadly, there is strong opposition to this change from veterinary trade organizations, although many veterinarians themselves are in support. If you want to impact this work, please join the League’s GrassRoots Outreach With the League (GROWL) group by contacting our Director of Advocacy, Rachel Heatley, at

I speak for myself and for those who do not have a voice when I humbly thank you for making it possible for us to do this work. Whether it is walking a dog, playing with a cat, cleaning a small mammal, recovering a patient from surgery, mucking a stall, or advocating for policy change that transforms the lives of animals, you are making a real difference. Thank you.

Speaking for those who cannot,

Dr. Apryl Steele

President & CEO