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. 


Dog Parks

Alexandria is a dog-friendly community. There is an off-leash dog park within a mile of virtually every residence in the City. Dog exercise areas are under the jurisdiction of the City’s Department of Recreation, Parks and Cultural Activities. Please direct questions about the location and maintenance of dog exercise areas to RPCA. These are the only areas in the city where dogs may exercise off leash.

When using the dog parks, please follow these rules:

  • Dogs must be attended at all times (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 6-2-2)
  • Only three dogs per person in these areas (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 6-2-2)
  • Dogs must be 4 months or older (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 6-2-2)
  • Dogs must have a current rabies vaccination (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 5-7-38)
  • Dogs must be licensed (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 5-7-47)
  • No female dogs in season (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 5-7-42)
  • Owners must clean up feces (City Code Chapter7, Article C Section 5-7-42)


Off-leash exercise area locations:



  • Founder’s Park – in the northwest corner at Union Street
  • Pommander Park – southwest corner of Gibbon and Union Streets
  • First and Payne Streets – city property at northeast corner
  • Braddock Road and Commonwealth – southeast corner
  • Hoof’s Run – East of Commonwealth between Oak and Chapman Streets
  • Ft. Williams and New Ft. Williams Parkways – area between parkways
  • Tarleton Park – along Old Mill Run west of Gordon Street
  • Armistead and Beauregard Streets – southeast corner
  • Chambliss Street – south of tennis courts
  • Fort Ward Park – east side of entrance
  • Timberbranch Parkway – median between Braddock Road and Oakley Place
  • Chinquapin Park – east of loop
  • Monticello Park – east entrance
  • Edison Street – cul-de-sac
  • W&OD Railroad – 200ft. at Raymond Avenue



  • Simpson Stadium Park – Monroe Avenue
  • Duke Street – 5000 block east of Beatley Library
  • Montgomery Park – corner of Fairfax and 1st Streets
  • Chetworth Park – at Chetworth Place
  • Ben Brenman Park – south of Backlick Run