One hundred years ago, some animal lovers in Denver decided they wanted to help the many dogs and cats in need of rescue from dire living situations. They named their organization Our Dumb Friends.

Now known as the Dumb Friends League, it’s the largest animal welfare organization in the Rocky Mountain region, welcoming tens of thousands of animals into its two shelters.

The name raises eyebrows because “dumb” doesn’t have the same meaning it did back in 1910. Then, the word often was used to describe people who were unable to speak. The Denver group has kept the name to indicate that it speaks “for those who cannot speak for themselves,” namely, companion animals.

But what DFL does goes way beyond that.

This nonprofit group is an “open admission” shelter, meaning it accepts every animal in need. As a result, DFL receives and cares for more than 25,000 lost, abused or unwanted pets annually. It adopts out more than 15,000 homeless dogs, cats, rabbits and other small animals to new homes — and reunites 2,700 lost pets with their families. It even provides foster care to more than 3,200 animals with special needs.

The list of good deeds that DFL performs would fill volumes. But for Bruce Carter, it was the group’s kindness in his family’s hour of need that literally changed the way his company,BC Billiards & Spas in Centennial, Colo., does business.

“Last year was a real bad year for us,” Carter says. He’s talking about how his family’s beloved pet, a 7-year-old Jack Russell terrier named Rusty, fell ill — and no one knew why or what to do. DFL helped Carter find veterinarians who could try to determine what was wrong.

Despite their best efforts, Rusty didn’t make it, and one day Carter’s son found him dead on the lawn.

As a lifelong Denver resident, Carter was well aware of DFL’s work. “I’d heard about what they did, the adoptions and all,” he says. “My mom got her two German shepherds from the league, and a lot of my friends adopted animals from them. But when I was at the facility for Rusty’s illness, I saw firsthand how they operate, dealing with all the strays that come in and the pet owners in need. It takes a great person to do what they do.”

Wanting to help the group that helps so many, Carter started a fund-raising program at his store.

Customers can donate billiard tables, working hot tubs, gaming equipment, bar stools and other recreational items. The company will pick up the tax-deductible donation free of charge, refurbish and then sell it, with a portion of the proceeds going directly to the Dumb Friends League.

To encourage customers to contribute items, the home page of BC Billiards & Spas’ Website spotlights the program.

“We’re committed to raising $5,000 by the end of the year for the league,” Carter says.  “Right now, we have three donated pool tables in the showroom.”

Sometimes, he adds, 100 percent of a sale’s proceeds go to DFL. When an item needs so much fixing that after he deducts for time and labor, he makes no money off it, he figures he might as well give it all to DFL.

“The league does wonderful work,” Carter notes. “Besides, it keeps my guys busy picking up used hot tubs and pool tables, and the money is going toward a good cause.”

Every month, like clockwork, he drops off his program’s proceeds at the animal shelter. It’s one check he is happy to write.