Our History



A Brief History of the Animal Assistance Foundation

Louise Harrison was the granddaughter of brewer Adolph Coors and Colorado railroad pioneer Harry Collbran. She was a philanthropically-minded person who wanted to give back to the community, and animals were an important part of Louise's life.

Louise admired the spirit of Colorado’s pioneers and became deeply involved in the history of Colorado. Along with her interest in history she was a generous donor to animal and non-animal causes. She was an early funder of the Denver Dumb Friends League and had the foresight to recognize the importance of spay and neuter programs.

In 1975, Coors went public and Louise’s inherited stock was worth almost twenty-two million dollars. With the consultation of her trusted friend and bank officer Robert Williams and her lawyer, Charles Ennis, Louise established the Animal Assistance Foundation with the simple directive to “take care of the animals of Colorado.”

The first meeting of the foundation was eventful because it established the path and focus for the foundation through its first decade and beyond. Grants were made to support spay and neuter surgeries at neighborhood animal clinics, and to support general operations and special projects in animal shelters throughout Colorado. In the early days, AAF also funded programs at Colorado State University’s veterinary college including an establishment grant for the National Council for Pet Overpopulation Study and Policy in 1995.

By the mid 1980s, AAF’s funding expanded to include the Lucky Star Home for Cats as well as two animal clinics in Denver (Capitol Hill and Queen City) as well as a spay and neuter clinic in Boulder, Colorado (The Boulder Clinic). In 1990, AAF broke ground for the world-class, state-of-the-art, veterinary hospital established in Louise Harrison’s honor.

The decade of the 1990s was extremely productive, bringing veterinary care to canine and feline pets of low-income animal owners through Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital (HMAH). In this ten-year period, over 300,000 animals were treated; many requiring sophisticated orthopedic surgery and advanced veterinary care. By 2001, the staff of HMAH had performed over 200,000 spay and neuter surgeries.

Today, AAF continues to expand its impact across the state of Colorado and has focused a significant amount of effort in helping underserved areas within the state. Honoring the commitment that Louise had to pet overpopulation, spay and neuter programs continue to be the hallmark of the foundation. Improving adoptions, preventing animal cruelty, and seeking new and innovative ways to improve the lives of animals are also key areas of focus for the future. Join Louise’s legacy to help the animals of Colorado.

Foundation Timeline:

1975: AAF was founded by Louise Harrison

1976: AAF opened its first neighborhood animal clinic, Queen City Spay/Neuter clinic at 42nd and Tennyson, in northwest Denver.

1978: AAF opened the Capitol Hill Spay/ Neuter Clinic.

1980: AAF was asked to operate the financially strapped Boulder Spay/Neuter Clinic for Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

1981: AAF created the Lucky Star Cat Shelter in Lakewood. Regrettably, Louise did not live long enough to see these facilities.

1983: AAF turned over management of the Lucky Star Cat Shelter to the Dumb Friends League, which has since been encompassed in the new Buddy Center in Douglas County.

1990: The Capitol Hill and Queen City clinics were consolidated into the Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital (HMAH) at 191 Yuma in Denver. Shortly thereafter, the Boulder Clinic, was transferred back to the Humane Society of Boulder Valley.

1998: David Gies was named Executive Director for the Foundation

1999: HMAH celebrated its 200,000 spay/neuter operation and continues to provide reduced-fee veterinary service to low-income pet owners.

2000: HMAH was incorporated as an independent public charity with its own board of directors. This administrative move separated the function of direct services from the philanthropic mission of AAF.

2006: Colorado Veterinary Medical Foundation awarded contract to operate Harrison Memorial Animal Hospital.

2007: The building at 191 Yuma Street was transferred to CVMF/Harrison Center for Animals. CVMF and HMAH merge forming the largest not-for-profit veterinary hospital in Colorado. The organization was renamed PetAid Colorado in 2012

2008: AAF completed its Model State Study identifying the human/animal connection, the LINKTM, animal assisted therapy, data collection, unwanted horse, and spay/neuter for dogs and cats as its priorities.

2012: After 14 years, David Gies retires and Roger Haston is named Executive Director for the Foundation.

2013: AAF establish its mission and vision to focus on the five freedoms for companion animals.

Since its inception, AAF has invested over $50 million in the well-being of animals in the State of Colorado and has provided leadership for numerous collaborative efforts on behalf of animal welfare.