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. 

Licensing Your Pet

NOTE: Have you received a license renewal for a pet that is already licensed? Do you have questions about your pet’s license expiration date? Please call 703-746-4774 to discuss pet licensing before coming to the shelter and we will be able to answer your questions over the phone.

As part of our contract with the City of Alexandria, the League manages dog and cat licensing for animals residing in the City. All dogs and cats over four months old must be licensed. Licensing helps Animal Control reunite you with your cat or dog if it ever gets lost, and helps give our city a more accurate census of its animal residents so recreational and other resources can be appropriately allocated.

In the City of Alexandria pet licensing has the following characteristics:

  • Owners have the option of purchasing a multi-year license, depending upon the pet’s rabies vaccine expiration.
  • Licenses expire at the end of the month in which the pet’s rabies vaccine expires.
  • Senior citizen discounts are offered for dog licenses. Proof of senior status (age 65) must be provided to purchase a discounted license.
  • Licenses must be purchased within 30 days of moving into the City, or of acquiring the pet. Renewal licenses must be purchased within 10 days of the expiration date of the previous license.
  • The City of Alexandria uses permanent license tags. Pet owners are responsible for renewing licenses prior to expiration, but new tags will not be issued.

If you are licensing your pet in person at the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter, pets are not required to be present. Please leave your pet at home unless you have previously made arrangements with the League to bring your animal to the shelter.


Licensing Fees


Altered, Single Year

Altered, Multi Year

Unaltered, Single Year

Unaltered, Multi Year












*Senior citizen discount for spayed/neutered dogs of $5 off (Annual) – must show proof of senior status (age 65).


If your companion animals are not licensed, call 703-746-4774 to request a license application, download an application or come to the shelter with proof of your pet’s rabies vaccination and sterilization. There is no penalty for licensing previously unlicensed animals.