About the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria
Helping Animals, Supporting Community
Since 1946, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria has been a resource for our community and a shelter for homeless animals. Through adoptions, spay and neuter assistance, education and community service and outreach, the League plays a key role in promoting responsible pet care across Northern Virginia. The League has contracted with the City of Alexandria to provide animal care, control and sheltering services since 1989. As part of our contract with the City, we operate the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, an open-admission facility accepting any and all animals brought to us. We have made a commitment that if an animal is in need, we will provide the care that every animal so richly deserves. 
We place more than 1,300 companion animals, including dogs, cats, rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, iguanas, chinchillas and many more, in permanent, loving homes each year. An additional 300 stray pets are reunited with their owners through the League annually. Our specially-trained staff also assist area wildlife that have been injured or are in distress—with the ultimate goal of releasing them back into their natural habitat or transferring them to licensed wildlife rehabilitators for care and eventual release. 
The League has a vibrant volunteer corps of 200 animal lovers who support our 40+ full and part-time professional staff. In everything we do, League staff and volunteers demonstrate that love and compassion are just as important as food and water for the animals in our care. 

 

Animal Services FAQs

How do I reach the animal control department?
Please note that animal control officers can respond only to those cases occurring within the city of Alexandria. Residents of surrounding jurisdictions should call the animal control unit for their jurisdiction. To report an animal control incident, such as a dog bite, dog running loose, an animal in distress, or possible case of animal cruelty or neglect, please call 703-746-4774 or 703-838-4444. Animal control’s regular hours of services are:
Monday to Sunday 6 a.m.  to 8 p.m. (November 1 to March 30)
Monday to Sunday 6 a.m.  to 9 p.m. (April 1 to Oct 31).
What if there is an after-hours emergency?
Outside of regular business hours, an animal control officer is “on-call” and will respond to health-and-safety-related emergencies only. Citizens may request assistance from the animal control officer by calling the Alexandria police department dispatcher at 703-838-4444.
What services does the animal control department provide for the city of Alexandria?
Enforcement of city and state laws dealing with domestic animals
Investigation of dog attacks to humans and domestic animals
Emergency response to sick or seriously injured domestic animals, vicious domestic animals, reports of severe animal cruelty, possibly rabid animals, or possible human or domestic animal exposure to wildlife when rabies is a concern
Investigation of animal cruelty
Removal of stray dogs from streets and public areas
Pick up of stray dogs from residences and businesses
Regulation and inspection of kennels – commercial and private
Dog license enforcement
Rabies vaccination enforcement
Q: My neighbor’s dog barks all hours of day and night. Will animal control do something?
A: Animal control would come out to verify the complaint, and to make sure the pet is not in a possibly harmful situation. There are fines for noisy animals in the city of Alexandria.
Q: Squirrels or other wildlife are accessing my attic space. Will animal control remove them or rent me a trap to remove them?
A: Animal control does not deal with wildlife complaints, however, humane wildlife control agencies can help resolve these situations. The League does rent humane traps to the public, but only for the purpose of trapping stray or feral cats.
Q: I see stray cats and kittens coming in and out of the sewer, and I am concerned for their well-being.  Would animal control come and trap them and take them to the shelter?
A: There are no laws against cats running at large, and the cats that the public see coming and going in their neighborhoods are generally feral or wild cats. These cats have learned to adapt to their surroundings, and have sharp survival skills. They are not domestic pets and can be fractious when handled by humans. Local organizations exist that trap, alter and release feral cats to help keep their numbers in check.
Q: A fox has been seen in my neighborhood during the day, and he is missing a lot of hair. Is he rabid?
A: Fox are indigenous to northern Virginia, and have adjusted to being suburban wildlife. They have a higher chance of carrying mange than most other wildlife, and they will scratch until their coat is almost completely gone. This is not a pretty sight, but is common. They are not a threat to citizens unless cornered and feel they need to defend themselves or their pups. Fox are also opportunist and scavengers, and will search for food during the day or night. We recommend that if a resident sees a fox, he or she should simply leave the animal alone.
Q: My neighbor has a new dog, and they keep him in the backyard. The dog goes under the deck when it rains, and I worry that the dog may not have adequate food or water. What should I do?
A: The best thing to do if you ever feel an animal is being neglected or cruelly treated, is to call animal control so that an officer can go out and check the animal. The officer will ask for a street address and a description of the animal in question. Citizens may remain anonymous when filing complaints. An officer would inspect the premises to validate the complaint, and speak with the owner in hopes of improving the animal’s living situation.
Q: A dog or cat bit my child. What should I do?
If you, or a relative, friend or acquaintance have been bit by a known or stray dog or cat, you should report it immediately to animal control, or after hours to the Alexandria police department, so an officer can respond if you need assistance. If the animal is still running loose, it is even more important to contact our department, so that we may confine the animal for quarantine reasons and to locate an owner to verify vaccines. Virginia state law states that all bites must be reported to the local health department and/ or animal control.

 

How do I reach the animal control department?

Please note that animal control officers can respond only to those cases occurring within the City of Alexandria. Residents of surrounding jurisdictions should call the animal control unit for their jurisdiction. To report an animal control incident, such as a dog bite, dog running loose, an animal in distress, or possible case of animal cruelty or neglect, please call 703-746-4774 or 703-746-4444. Animal control’s regular hours of services are:

Monday through Friday: 7 AM to 8 PM

Saturday and Sunday: 8 AM to 5 PM

Animal control dispatch is available Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays from 10AM to 8PM and Wednesdays, Saturdays, and Sundays from 9AM to 5PM. To report an animal control incident after-hours, please call the Alexandria Police Department dispatcher at 703-746-4444.

 

What if there is an after-hours emergency?

Outside of regular business hours, an animal control officer is “on-call” and will respond to health-and-safety-related emergencies only. Citizens may request assistance from the animal control officer by calling the Alexandria Police Department dispatcher at 703-838-4444.

 

What services does animal control provide for the city of Alexandria?

  • Enforcement of city and state laws dealing with domestic animals
  • Investigation of dog bites and attacks to humans and domestic animals
  • Emergency response to sick or seriously injured domestic animals, vicious domestic animals, reports of severe animal cruelty, possibly rabid animals, or possible human or domestic animal exposure to wildlife when rabies is a concern
  • Investigation of animal cruelty
  • Removal of stray dogs from streets and public areas
  • Pick up of stray dogs from residences and businesses
  • Regulation and inspection of kennels – commercial and private
  • Dog license enforcement
  • Rabies vaccination enforcement

 

A neighbor’s dog barks nonstop. Will animal control help?

Animal Control would come out to verify the complaint, and to make sure the pet is not in a possibly harmful situation. There are fines for noisy animals in the City of Alexandria.

 

Squirrels are in my attic. Will animal control remove them or rent me a trap to remove them?

Animal Control does not deal with pests or wildlife that does not pose a threat to humans, however, humane wildlife control agencies can help resolve these situations. The League does rent humane traps to the public, but only for the purpose of trapping stray or feral cats for Trap-Neuter-Return. Learn more Animal Control’s response to wildlife.

 

Stray cats come in and out of the sewer, and I am concerned for their well-being.  Will animal control take them to the shelter?

There are no laws against cats running at large, and the cats that the public see coming and going in their neighborhoods are generally feral or wild cats. These cats have learned to adapt to their surroundings, and have sharp survival skills. They are not domestic pets and can be fractious when handled by humans. Learn more about the TNR program and the resources made available by the League.

 

A fox has been seen in my neighborhood during the day. He is missing a lot of hair. Is he rabid?

Fox are indigenous to Northern Virginia, and have adjusted to being suburban wildlife. They have a higher chance of carrying mange than most other wildlife, and they will scratch until their coat is almost completely gone. This is not a pretty sight, but is common. They are not a threat to citizens unless cornered and feel they need to defend themselves or their pups. Fox are also opportunist and scavengers, and will search for food during the day or night. We recommend that if a resident sees a fox, he or she should simply leave the animal alone.

 

My neighbor’s dog is always outside. I worry that he may not have adequate shelter/food/water. What should I do?

The best thing to do if you ever feel an animal is being neglected or cruelly treated, is to call animal control so that an officer can go out and check the animal. The officer will ask for a street address and a description of the animal in question. Citizens may remain anonymous when filing complaints. An officer would inspect the premises to validate the complaint, and speak with the owner in hopes of improving the animal’s living situation.

 

A dog or cat bit my child. What should I do?

First, wash the wound thoroughly with soap and water. If it is a serious bite (and does not stop bleeding after 15 minutes) or if it is a cat bite, contact your doctor. Next, you should report it immediately to animal control, or after hours to the Alexandria police department, so an officer can respond if you need assistance. If the animal is still running loose, it is even more important to contact our department, so that we may confine the animal for quarantine reasons and to locate an owner to verify vaccines. Virginia state law states that all bites must be reported to the local health department and/ or animal control.