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. 

Featured Animal

Check out our featured pets and wildlife below, and go on to read our previously-featured blogs at the bottom, too!


AWLA - Founded 70 Years Ago! (Photo: 1965) AWLA: Born 70 Years Ago!

Founded out of concern for local animals.

Seventy years ago this June the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria was born, and it was one of the first humane organizations in metropolitan Washington. Springing from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which was founded two years earlier, the Alexandria organization was started by a group of citizens concerned about the welfare of animals in the city. One driving force was the existing Alexandria “dog pound,” located near the intersection of Route 1 and East Monroe Street. Conditions there reportedly were so bad that on occasion well-meaning citizens broke in to free the dogs.

A few months before the June 1946 founding, the citizens met to choose officers. They were:

Chairman: Capt. James Douglas

First Vice Chairman: Dr. Nelson Gray

2nd Vice Chairman: Mrs. L.W. Corbett

Recording Secretary: Mrs. Stanleigh Swann

Corresponding Secretary: Miss Anne Carter

Treasurer: Mr. Warren Grubbs

Counsel: Mr. Albert Bryan

Minutes from one of the meetings about the formation of the League reveal that the functions and activities of today’s AWLA have deep roots. The April 16, 1946, minutes conclude with:

“Before the meeting adjourned, Mrs. Miller enlisted the interest of all in trying to locate a police dog by the name of Streaky which had been lost by a (World War II) veteran on his way through Alexandria. The dog had been brought back by the veteran from the South Pacific. It is one of our first acts as a League to endeavor to find the dog and bring him back to his master.”

Some milestones in early AWLA history:

June 1946: AWLA is incorporated. City permits the League to use city records of dog tags for a large-scale membership drive.

1950: The city of Alexandria provides a desk and phone to the League at the city recreation center. League members begin to set up central files and launch a daily operation.

1950: AWLA lends support to a fight against an order that would evict people living in some Alexandria housing projects unless they gave up their pet dogs.

Jan. 1, 1951: City turns over supervision of the shelter entirely to the League, providing a budget of more than $9,000 a year. Soon the League is able to raise $3,000 to cover veterinary fees and other shelter needs. Devoted friends donate an “electric refrigerator, inlaid linoleum and furniture” and build special cages for the dogs, cats and kittens that sit on raised wooden platforms to provide warmth.

Jan. 20, 1951: New shelter, at 910 S. Payne Street, opens. Will be open seven days a week. During the first month, more than 1,000 animals are handled, and more than 250 are adopted out.

1952: Newspaper story proclaims that the new shelter can “take all animals but snakes and alligators.” The story describes the League’s rescue of a pregnant deer drowning in the Potomac River and states that “few Alexandrians seem aware of the truly marvelous pets available at the shelter.”

January 1952: Minutes of an AWLA meeting summarize the progress made in the shelter’s first year, including the following anecdote, relayed by the chairman:

“A few Sundays ago we were called to pick up an injured dog out Russell Road. The dog had been hit by a car and one leg almost completely broken off. He was taken immediately to the veterinarian, where a sedative was administered. Fortunately, he had a dog tag on. Our members in the area started efforts to locate the owner, and our shelter operator, Mrs. Mullitt, reached Mr. Sullivan, who through the city’s records, was able to give us the owner’s name. The owner was notified, and thus was able to save her pet’s life. The League is prepared to handle about anything that comes up. We have been called concerning possums, rabbits, guinea pigs, and assisted in retrieving a deer from the river. A couple of weeks ago I was not at all surprised to see a goat in one of the runs. We placed her, too.”

1989: AWLA secures official contract with the City of Alexandria to provide animal care, control and operation of the shelter.

May 18, 2002: The new Vola Lawson Animal Shelter on Eisenhower Avenue in Alexandria is dedicated, with former city manager Vola Lawson and other city officials in attendance. The shelter features more spacious and comfortable quarters for staff and, more importantly, the resident animals.

May 2015: AWLA signs a formal agreement with the Alexandria Police Department to create a working relationship on all animal-related matters in the city of Alexandria. Working with officials, AWLA brings forward 25 criminal cases of animal abuse and neglect.

2016: Alexandria’s animal shelter is a vast improvement over the squalid conditions of the original dog pound on East Monroe Street. The Vola Lawson Animal Shelter is a model shelter and a leader in national best practices for animals, both pets and wildlife.

Pictured at top: AWLA shelter worker and her furry friends accept a check for a planned addition to the Alexandria animal shelter at 910 S. Payne Street. Photo from June 1969 Alexandria Gazette. Photo by Don MacAfee, courtesy of Alexandria Library, Special Collections.

Pictured at top: Rumpelstiltskin the cat and a guardian at the Alexandria animal shelter, 910 S. Payne St. The facility was replaced by the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter on Eisenhower Avenue in 2002 after a half century. Photo from March 1965 Alexandria Gazette. Photo by Don MacAfee, courtesy of Alexandria Library, Special Collections.




AWLA - Founded 70 Years Ago! (Photo: 1965) AWLA: Born 70 Years Ago! - Founded out of concern for local animals. Seventy years ago this June the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria was born, and it was one of the first humane organizations in metropolitan Washington. Springing from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which was founded two years earlier, the Alexandria organization was started by a group of […]
Nancy Posey - AWLA Remembering Nancy Posey - On April 28th, our Animal Welfare League of Alexandria family suffered an incredible loss — Nancy Posey, an AWLA volunteer for over 28 years, passed away. Nancy had welcomed literally thousands of visitors to our shelter with her bright smile and easy laugh which made our front lobby warm and inviting. She loved animals and […]
Spring 2 Action - 2016 Spring2Action – A Day in the Life - We are celebrating Spring2Action – A Day of Giving in Alexandria by showing everyone how we Spring2Action everyday to care for animals. All of the staff and many volunteers are jumping in to do our yearly Spring Cleaning while still performing regular duties! Watch throughout the day!
Autumn web image Staff pick: Autumn - Autumn has been waiting for a home since November 2015.  This three year old calico kitty is a staff favorite: Sweet, gentle, and laid-back, she can usually be found sitting on top of her cat tree, people-watching and purring. We think she’s keeping her eye on the lobby to see if someone has come in […]
animalProfile_6441jpeg_phixr Nivens has been at the shelter since… - Nivens has been at the shelter since September 2015!  She is certainly ready to find a home. Sadly, white rabbits with red eyes can sometimes be overlooked but they are actually often the friendliest, most social of all bunnies!  Nivens is a big bunny, very outgoing and interested in people. Come meet her!
Rabbit web image extended date Rabbit adoption fees waived until March 15, 2016! - The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) is pleased to announce that we’ve extended February’s “Find Some-Bunny to Love” adoption promotion until March 15, 2016! That’s right: Until March 15, adoption fees are waived for all rabbits at the AWLA, and we’ve got some incredible bunnies waiting to be adopted by loving families. Meet a few of […]
Find Some Bunny to Love web image Rabbit adoption fees waived through February! - Valentine’s Day has already come and gone, but there’s still time to find some-bunny to love! We’ve got an amazing crew of rabbits here at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria who are all in need of loving homes. Some of our rabbits have been waiting for new homes since September 2015!  To help these […]
Valentine web image Send a card, heal a heart: Valentine’s Day e-cards are here! - Now through Valentine’s Day, donate to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and send a special AWLA E-Valentine in honor of the animal lover in your life. Your e-card will make their day by honoring them with lifesaving care of our shelter animals. Proceeds will go to AWLA’s Sarah’s Fund to treat critically ill animals, including […]
Chester for web Chester was adopted! - We’re happy to report that Chester has been adopted! The grey tabby had been at the shelter since January 2015, and we were so anxious to find a home for him. You can read Chester’s story here. Finally, on Friday, January 29th, Chester’s adopter went to his foster home to pick him up and take […]
Chester_Web Chester has been waiting since September - Chester has been at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria for a very long time: After being adopted from us earlier in 2015, he was returned in September and has been waiting for a home ever since. We recently sent Chester into foster care because he was growing weary of the shelter and didn’t want […]
Helen web image Helen was adopted! - Happy news from The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria! Helen has been adopted! Helen is a 9 year old who came to the shelter in August with her puppies. Watch the video below to learn about Helen’s story: We’re so happy for Helen and wish her the best in her new home!
Helen web image Come meet Helen! - Helen came to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria in August with her litter of puppies: We were able to find homes for Helen’s puppies with no trouble at all, but Helen is still waiting. She spent most of her life outside and had a tough time adapting to her new life; she was fearful […]
Tiger for web Tiger has been waiting since January - Tiger came to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria in January 2015, and we can’t believe this handsome, sweet kitty is still with us! Our volunteer videographer Jordan made this video to tell Tiger’s story.   If you’re interested in meeting Tiger, come to 4101 Eisenhower Ave. to meet him. He’s a great cat who […]
Pepe_Web Pepe: A little dog who beat the odds - Pepe is an 8 year old male Chihuahua who was brought to us as a stray. Pepe was having a rough time: He could not walk and needed assistance to stand. His right eye was extremely swollen and so painful that Pepe didn’t want anyone to touch him. Our staff hated to see him in […]
King_Web Kingston still needs a home - Kingston came to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) through an animal cruelty case. His companion, Queen (now Sunny), and their pups (Everest, Olympus, and Himalaya), were rehabilitated by the AWLA and have found new homes. Now it’s King’s turn!     With the help of AWLA staff and our friends at Fur-Get Me […]
Simon and Garfunkel_phixr Simon and Garfunkel – Leapin’ Lizards! - At the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, we help all animals, not just dogs and cats! The two residents who have been waiting for their new homes the longest are lizards named Simon and Garfunkel.   This pair can’t sing you any folk tunes, but they can be amazing pets. Simon and Garfunkel are green anoles, and they’re […]
Clear the Shelters - Search Animals Athena – Best for Last - We are pleased to report that Athena was adopted today 8/16/15.  Yesterday, we found homes for all of our dogs during #Cleartheshelters except for Athena – our longest resident at the shelter.  It was heartbreaking to see her alone among all the empty kennels.  However, wonderful news!  A couple came in today and adopted her!  […]
grumpy-cat-shelley-castle-photography-631_phixr Sisi and Charlie - Meet Sisi and Charlie – click to read their story and see photos. Thanks for your support!
20150622_134228-1 (2)_phixr Update on Everest - Update 8/34/15: Everest has been adopted!!! The story of Everest and his family has inspired over 170 donors to donate close to $15,000 to Sarah’s Fund. Everest, his two siblings, mother, and father were rescued from neglect by our Animal Control Officers and brought to the shelter. Everest and his brother and sister were so thin […]
Sisi 2_phixr Sisi - Meet Sisi 🙂 Jump to the story of Sisi and Charlie.
Potter (2)_phixr 8 Cats Rescued from Truck - The Animal Welfare League of Alexandriarecently rescued eight cats that were abandoned in a truck for at least five days without food or water.  These kitties were in terrible shape when our Animal Control Officers responded to the scene.  They were all dehydrated and very thin. Our veterinarian and staff have been caring for them […]
Paisley_phixr Paisley - Meet Paisley! Paisley’s story is one that teaches us how a little time and patience can help even the shyest little cat show his true colors! Paisley came to the AWLA as an extremely frightened little cat, and his previous owners explained that while he loved their cat and dogs, he was terrified of the […]
Dublin (featured) - adopt me! Meet Dublin! - Dublin has been adopted!  In January, a concerned citizen called the Alexandria Police Department to report that a dog had been tied outside all day. Our Animal Services team responded to the call and found Dublin, an 11-year old Cocker Spaniel that was in need of medical attention. Dublin’s owners decided to surrender him to […]
TW-biscuit Meet Biscuit! - Two months ago, Biscuit, a beautiful one and a half year old domestic short hair, arrived at VCA Alexandria in a lot of pain. His owners told the veterinarian on staff that he had been “acting painful”, and hadn’t been eating for several days. When the veterinarian examined Biscuit, it was clear that he had a […]
Slade_featured Slade - Another Thankful Animal   The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) is continuing our appreciation of our supporters with the “Month of Thankful Animals” by telling Slade’s story. In September, Slade, a six-month-old, female kitten, was found in the middle of a road in Alexandria. She was very scared and obviously disoriented. The good Samaritan […]
luna2_phixr Luna’s Jump - Luna is a one-year-old spayed female indoor cat who jumped out of a first floor balcony two days before Thanksgiving and severely fractured her leg. The fracture was so severe that amputation was the best treatment. Luna went to Paws, Purrs, and Exotics for the amputation of her fractured leg. Even though Luna didn’t land on all four paws […]
mable Mable’s Journey - A few months ago, several dogs were transferred to the AWLA by the Humane Society of the United States. The dogs had been rescued from hoarding case in rural Mississippi, and had spent most, if not all, of their lives living outdoors. Mable was one of the dogs we received as a part this rescue. When […]
twinkie_phixr Twinkie - Twinkie is as sweet as can be…maybe even sweeter than the delicious dessert! She has beautiful green eyes that glow just as vibrantly as her spectacular personality; Twinkie doesn’t need to resort to meowing to get the attention she deserves. This graceful kitty is not just a treat for the eyes, she is softer and […]
FOT2549 (1)_phixr_phixr Shaggy Will Get Surgery - Shaggy needs surgery to repair her bad heart.  She has the same condition as little Peking who recently had surgery and has fully recovered.  Shaggy had her original electrocardiogram at Del Ray Veterinary Clinic and will  have her surgery at Chesapeake Veterinary Cardiology Clinic.  Care for our shelter animals with severe medical problems is made possible […]
marilynphixr Marilyn’s Life Has Changed - From this life to this! Marilyn is one of the eleven dogs that we now have that were rescued by HSUS from a horrible situation in Mississippi. These dogs were neglected and suffered from multiple medical issues. When Marilyn arrived at AWLA, she was so frightened that she had been too scared to use the […]
shelley-castle-photography-zara-grad-awla-25_phixr Zara – Joins the Police Department - Dog from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria Joins the Police Department Shelter Dog to become a Police Canine this Week (Vote for Zara HERE) ALEXANDRIA, Va.—A young female Belgian Malinois, turned into the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) by her owner in September 2013, will graduate from the Alexandria Police Department’s Basic K-9 […]
Kittens-Story_feature Rescued Kittens - AWLA saves kittens from fire truck! Early this afternoon, a team of Alexandria firefighters had responded to a service call in a fire truck that they had picked up from the mechanic the day before. After the call, as is the procedure, one of the firefighters went to remove the wheel stop and discovered a […]
Peking-2_featured Puppy Peking -   7/14/14 Update: You all have helped raise the funds needed for us to schedule Peking’s life saving heart surgery! The surgeons could only give us an estimate for her surgery and predicted that it may be more especially with her aftercare – but from the amount of support we have received, we are confident […]
xena Xena - With a name like Xena, it’s understandable if the term ‘Warrior Princess’ pops into your mind. But while our Xena might be a princess, she is the furthest away from a ‘warrior’ that you can get! This 5 year old Boxer mix loves nothing more than a day filled with rawhides and snuggles, and will […]


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