Call of the Wild

The Morris Animal Foundation has been tackling animal health and wellness issues for seven decades.

Golden Retriever
Courtesy Morris Animal Foundation

We love our pets. That’s why we love the Denver-based Morris Animal Foundation. Started in 1948, the nonprofit has a mission to research and find solutions for problems plaguing animals, both domestic and wild. The foundation laid the groundwork for the first parvo vaccine; gave Dr. Dian Fossey, famous for her mountain gorilla study, 10 years of funding to help create a veterinary care program for gorillas; and on any given day funds more animal health studies for more species in more places than any other organization. “I learned about the foundation almost 10 years ago, when someone made a donation in honor of my first dog, Chewy,” says president and CEO Tiffany Grunert, who has been with the organization since 2017. “I can’t imagine my life without animals.”


The 70-year legacy started with Dr. Mark L. Morris Sr., a veterinarian with a passion for improving animal medicine and health. “In 1939, a Seeing Eye dog with kidney issues, named Buddy, was brought to Dr. Morris,” says Grunert. “Dr. Morris gave Frank Morris, the owner, some of his own dog food mix, which improved Buddy’s life. From there, Dr. Morris packaged and sold the diet to help pets everywhere. The royalties from that food built the foundation’s endowment, which now pays for 95 percent of our operational costs, allowing us to put 95 percent of donations into animal science.”

How it works

“Our main ammo is a scientific grant funding program. Three times a year, researchers submit proposals that are reviewed by our volunteer-based scientific advisory board. The board ranks proposals on scientific merit—only those with the most robust methods are recommended for funding. Our own Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is a 14-year long-term analysis in which we’ve enrolled more than 3,000 U.S. golden retrievers and are collecting thousands of data points from their behavior, nutrition, and lifestyle to try to figure out what might cause correlations to cancer. On average, we have 200 studies going at once. We also support veterinarians through a Smithsonian Institution partnership.”

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How you can help

Donate as an individual or company, start a fundraiser, donate a car, or get involved in other ways, Grunert says. “Just following us on social media and learning about and sharing what we do can raise awareness.”

Courtesy Morris Animal Foundation

Morris Animal Foundation
Denver-based animal health and wellness nonprofit organization