Ever since I was a young girl, I have been a lover of animals. Big, small, wild and house-trained. I want my son to grow up with the same love and respect for animals as I did. It is important to educate your children at a young age about ‘man’s best friends’ and our local wildlife, and Colorado is the perfect place to do that. Denver, and it’s surrounding areas are home to multiple animal rescues and sanctuaries that are all family friendly. Now that the sun is shining, grab your kiddos and check out some of my favorites.
Longhopes Donkey Shelter – Did you know that donkeys have a similar demeanor to dogs? They have a heart of gold and are loving and gentle. This shelter, located in Bennett, Colorado, is dedicated to rescuing, rehabilitating and rehoming donkeys. I was introduced to Longhopes in 2010 and have been a supporter ever since. Longhopes offers guided tours of their facilities, and trust me, children LOVE meeting and getting to know the donkeys. On Saturday, May 16 from 10am to 2pm, they are having an open house called ‘Meet a Donkey Day’. This is the perfect FREE opportunity to gather your family, take a trip to Bennett, and spend some time with these loving creatures.
The Wild Animal Sanctuary – Located near Keenesburg, Colorado, this is a nationally renowned refuge for more than 350 rescued lions, tigers, bears, wolves and other large carnivores. The rescue stories are heart breaking, but luckily have a happy ending. My favorite part of the visit was seeing the wild open spaces that these animals are so lucky to roam, and seeing the grizzly bears wrestling in their pool. Summertime is the perfect time to visit the sanctuary. They hold ‘Summer Safari’ fundraisers on eight different Saturdays. They are complete with catered dinners and special presentations. If you’re lucky, the lions and wolves may put on a howling concert for you!
Denver Dumb Friends League – The Dumb Friends League is the largest community-based animal welfare organization in the Rocky Mountain Region. They rescue, sick, neglected and injured animals, provide shelter and care, and adopt them out to loving homes. My favorite event is The Furry Scurry, which will be held on Saturday, May 2 in Wash Park. This is a great chance to get your family (and furry friend) out on a nice morning, and take a stroll to help homeless pets. DDFL also offers seasonal camps for kids and teens in support of their goal to teach children and young adults the importance of treating animals in a humane way. They will explore the wonderful world of animals, from pets to local wildlife. If you’re looking for a new family member, I highly recommend checking out DDFL, or other local shelters before going to a breeder or pet store. There are so many great animals out there just waiting for you to give them their forever home.
Colorado Horse Protection League – This Golden, Colorado organization is all about bringing horses back to good health and get them adopted to loving homes. HPL is 100% volunteer-run and sits on a beautiful, historic property. My sister in law has had the opportunity to adopt a couple of horses from HPL and give them a wonderful life. This year, they are hosting their annual Hoedown for Horses Barn Dance on Saturday, June 20 from 6pm to 10pm. This family event will include dinner, door prizes. great music, dancing and games. Cowboy hats and boots required (not really, but what kid doesn’t want to dress up?!).
Do you have a favorite shelter or sanctuary in Colorado? Where else should families visit this summer?