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. 

Finding a Lost Pet

Finding a Lost Pet
There are few things more frightening than discovering your pet is missing. We understand and we are here to help. Time is of the essence, so take a moment to read through our suggestions, and then get started.
Report Lost Pets to the League
Call the League and other area shelters to report your pet as missing. League staff will take a description of your pet, check it against a list of stray animals at our shelter and enter your animal into our system. Lost pets remain on this list for the first two weeks they are at the shelter. Lost animals arrive throughout the day and our description may not exactly match yours—so please provide as much detail as possible. 
Click here to see a listing of stray pets at the League.
Search Your House and Yard 
Common hiding places include:
Appliances (clothes dryer, dishwasher, refrigerator, stove, washing machine, etc.) 
Attic 
Boxes 
Cabinets (including file cabinets) 
Crawl spaces 
Drain pipes 
Drawers, shelves, bookcases 
Gutters 
Roof 
Sheds/Barns 
Trees/bushes 
Vehicles (including up in the engine during cold weather, for cats) 
Walk Your Neighborhood 
Go door-to-door where your pet was last seen, talking to everyone.
Carry a written description or flyer of your pet with your phone number to leave with residents or on the door (for your safety, never leave your name or your address). 
Bring a powerful flashlight even during the day. You will be looking in dark spaces such as garages, trash bins and crawl spaces. If injured, your dog or cat is likely to hide in a dark space, and may be too frightened to respond to your voice. 
Frequently call to your pet. S/he can hear you from great distances. Stop often and listen for your pet’s reply. 
Bring your pet’s favorite squeaky toy and use it. Take a box of your pet’s favorite treats and rattle it loudly while calling his name. 
Post simple, clear flyers around the neighborhood. Pets may roam more than a mile away. Include a short description of your pet (i.e. male cat, black fur, green eyes), but withhold several identifying marks so you can verify that a person truly has your pet. If possible, include a color photo of your pet. Never put your name or your address on the flyer.
Your pet’s sense of smell can help him find his way. Outside your home, place familiar, strongly-scented items such as:
A pair of your old gym socks or shirt 
Your pet’s bedding and/or favorite toys 
Foods such as tuna, sardines or other savory meat. 
Outside Your Neighborhood 
Call and visit other shelters in the area. Found animals are not always taken to the shelter in the jurisdiction where they are found. Sometimes Good Samaritans don’t know where the shelter is, and will instead bring animals to a nearby jurisdiction. Shelters are required to hold stray animals for a “stray period,” so it is very important to contact area shelters right away if your pet gets lost. Animals without an indication of ownership (collar, microchip, etc.) must be held for at least 5 days. Those that do have a collar or other indication of ownership are held for an additional 5 days. Click here for a list of other local shelters. 
Call local veterinary offices/emergency clinics, and visit the office if they have an animal that sounds even remotely like your pet. 
Register your lost pet with Pets911: www.Pets911.com or 1.888.PETS911 
Register your lost pet with Petfinder: www.petfinder.com 
Check the “Pets” section on Craig’s List: www.craigslist.com The League posts all of our stray animals here during their stray period.  
Run a “lost pet” ad in the newspaper and community publications. Search the “found” section of these publications as well. 
Check with your local and state Department of Transportation (DOT). Both local and state DOTs can help you determine if they have picked up the body of your pet. In the City of Alexandria, these animals are picked up by animal control officers and brought to the shelter to try to match them with descriptions of lost animals. 
If We Have Your Lost Pet
Come to the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter and bring the following items: 
Proof of ownership. The law requires that shelters verify ownership before releasing a pet. Acceptable items include: 
Vet records in your name, with your pet’s description 
Photos of your pet over time 
Microchip or tattoo records
Bill of sale or adoption contract, with your pet’s description. 
Collar and leash for dogs and collar and carrier for cats and other animals. We will not release any animal that is not properly restrained. These items can be purchased for a modest fee at the shelter. 
ID tag. You can purchase this at the shelter, or at pet supply stores. 
Cash or credit card to pay redemption fees. 
A boarding fee of $17/night is charged for each night the animal stays at the shelter. 
If animal control picked up your pet, there is a $10 impound fee for the first time your pet has been picked up. This fine increases with subsequent impounds.
An additional fee of $50 is charged for the vaccinations and care given to each animal upon their arrival at the shelter.  
City dog/cat license. If you live in the City, and your pet does not have a current cat or dog license, you will be asked to purchase that license. If your pet has a current rabies vaccination, you will purchase the license that day. Otherwise, you must go get the vaccine and return within a week to purchase the license. 
Vet bill, if applicable. If your pet required veterinary attention while in our care, we ask that you reimburse the League for these charges. 
Other Questions? 
Please call the League at 703.746.4774 to report a missing pet, or with other questions. 

There are few things more frightening than discovering your pet is missing. We understand and we are here to help. Time is of the essence, so take a moment to read through our suggestions, and then get started.

Report Lost Pets to the League

Call the League and other area shelters to report your pet as missing. League staff will take a description of your pet, check it against a list of stray animals at our shelter and enter your animal into our system. Lost pets remain on this list for the first two weeks they are at the shelter. Lost animals arrive throughout the day and our description may not exactly match yours—so please provide as much detail as possible. 

Search Your House and Yard 

Common hiding places include:

  • Appliances (clothes dryer, washing machine, refrigerator, etc.) 
  • Attic 
  • Boxes 
  • Cabinets (including file cabinets) 
  • Crawl spaces 
  • Drain pipes 
  • Drawers, shelves, bookcases 
  • Gutters 
  • Roof 
  • Sheds/Barns 
  • Trees/bushes 
  • Vehicles (including up in the engine during cold weather, for cats) 

Walk Your Neighborhood 

  • Go door-to-door where your pet was last seen, talking to everyone.
  • Carry a written description or flyer of your pet with your phone number to leave with residents or on the door (for your safety, never leave your name or your address). 
  • Bring a powerful flashlight even during the day. You will be looking in dark spaces such as garages, trash bins and crawl spaces. If injured, your dog or cat is likely to hide in a dark space, and may be too frightened to respond to your voice. 
  • Frequently call to your pet. S/he can hear you from great distances. Stop often and listen for your pet’s reply. 
  • Bring your pet’s favorite squeaky toy and use it. Take a box of your pet’s favorite treats and rattle it loudly while calling his name. 
  • Post simple, clear flyers around the neighborhood. Pets may roam more than a mile away. Include a short description of your pet (i.e. male cat, black fur, green eyes), but withhold several identifying marks so you can verify that a person truly has your pet. If possible, include a color photo of your pet. Never put your name or your address on the flyer.
  • Your pet’s sense of smell can help him find his way. Outside your home, place familiar, strongly-scented items such as:
  • A pair of your old gym socks or shirt 
  • Your pet’s bedding and/or favorite toys 
  • Foods such as tuna, sardines or other savory meat. 

Outside Your Neighborhood 

  • Call and visit other shelters in the area. Found animals are not always taken to the shelter in the jurisdiction where they are found. Sometimes Good Samaritans don’t know where the shelter is, and will instead bring animals to a nearby jurisdiction. Shelters are required to hold stray animals for a “stray period,” so it is very important to contact area shelters right away if your pet gets lost. Animals without an indication of ownership (collar, microchip, etc.) must be held for at least 5 days. Those that do have a collar or other indication of ownership are held for an additional 5 days. Click on the following names for the website homepages of shelters in neighboring jurisdictions: Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Fairfax County Animal Control, Washington Humane Society, Loudoun County Animal Care and Control, Prince George’s County Animal Management Group.
  • Call local veterinary offices/emergency clinics, and visit the office if they have an animal that sounds even remotely like your pet. 
  • Register your lost pet with Pets911: www.Pets911.com or 1-888-PETS911 
  • Register your lost pet with Petfinder: www.petfinder.com 
  • Check the “Lost and Found” section on Craig’s List: www.craigslist.com The League posts all of our stray animals here during their stray period.  
  • Run a “lost pet” ad in the newspaper and community publications. Search the “found” section of these publications as well. 
  • Check with your local and state Department of Transportation (DOT). Both local and state DOTs can help you determine if they have picked up the body of your pet. In the City of Alexandria, these animals are picked up by animal control officers and brought to the shelter to try to match them with descriptions of lost animals. 

If We Have Your Lost Pet

Come to the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter and bring the following items: 

  • Proof of ownership. The law requires that shelters verify ownership before releasing a pet. Acceptable items include: 
  • Vet records in your name with your pet’s description 
  • Photos of your pet over time 
  • Microchip or tattoo records
  • Bill of sale or adoption contract with your pet’s description. 
  • Collar and leash for dogs and collar and carrier for cats and other animals. We will not release any animal that is not properly restrained. These items can be purchased for a modest fee at the shelter. 
  • ID tag. You can purchase this at the shelter or at pet supply stores. 
  • Cash or credit card to pay redemption fees. 
  • A boarding fee of $17/night is charged for each night the animal stays at the shelter. 
  • If animal control picked up your pet, there is a $10 impound fee for the first time your pet has been picked up. This fine increases with subsequent impounds.
  • An additional fee of $50 is charged for the vaccinations and care given to each animal upon their arrival at the shelter.  
  • City dog/cat license. If you live in the City, and your pet does not have a current cat or dog license, you will be asked to purchase that license. If your pet has a current rabies vaccination, you will purchase the license that day. Otherwise, you must go get the vaccine and return within a week to purchase the license. 
  • Vet bill, if applicable. If your pet required veterinary attention while in our care, we ask that you reimburse the League for these charges. 

 

Other Questions? 

Please call the League at 703-746-4774 to report a missing pet, or with other questions.