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. 


The League relies on foster caregivers to provide extra care and attention to some of our most vulnerable residents, including puppies and kittens as well as adult companion animals who are recovering from surgery or illness. Our foster caregivers amaze us with their dedication to provide their guests with love and support. Fostering can be exhausting and even heart-breaking work, but foster caregivers say that preparing their charges for lifetime homes is the best possible reward.

Read one AWLA foster parents account of her experience fostering a family of 8 dogs, originally published in the Mount Vernon Gazette.

Unable to foster but want to support the program? Check out the Foster Care Wish List for items you can donate to help our caregivers and their foster animals.


Program Goals

Through fostering, the League hopes to:

  • Improve the health of ill, injured, or poorly managed companion animals
  • Ensure that all underage and underdeveloped animals have reached the proper level of maturity for adoption
  • Increase the adoptability of undersocialized companion animals
  • Increase the shelter’s capacity to care for animals in need

Is Fostering Right for Me?

Fostering animals requires, time, patience and flexibility. Please consider these fostering basics:

  • Typical assignments last from one week to two months, depending on the animal’s needs
  • The League provides all basic supplies and medical care for each fosterling
  • Foster caregivers are asked to provide a clean, quiet environment for their fosterlings
  • All fosterlings should be kept separate from other pets in the home—limiting disruption of each pet’s routines and limiting the chance for germs to spread
  • Foster caregivers receive training on how to care for their particular fosterlings

How Do I Get Started?

We ask all our foster caregivers for the following:

More Questions?

Email foster@alexandriaanimals.org or call 703-746-4774.