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. 

Pet Bereavement

Our pets are important members of the family. They are devoted companions who give us their unconditional love and acceptance. For a pet caregiver, the loss of a companion animal can be one of life’s most difficult experiences. When we lose a beloved friend, it often helps by sharing our feelings with others who have also experienced a similar loss.

For more than 25 years, Kathy Reiter has helped pet owners cope with their loss through the Pet Loss Support Group meetings at the shelter.

Kathy is recognized as the area’s leading authority on pet loss. By training, Kathy is a psychiatric social worker with a specialty in grief and bereavement. She has appeared on Good Morning America, CBS News with Dan Rather and PBS. Kathy has also been featured in The Washington Post, Better Homes and Gardens, Good Housekeeping and other widely-circulated magazines.

Kathy was instrumental in establishing the hospice movement in the United States and was directly responsible for the construction of the first hospice in Arlington, VA. While the Arlington hospice was being built, Kathy’s beloved cat, Prince, was diagnosed with a terminal illness. While being experienced in human loss, Kathy was now faced with impending pet loss of her animal friend. Kathy turned for help, for resources, and yet found none. Through her own personal experience, Kathy came to realize the need for pet loss support, and generously offers her gentle support to anyone who is grappling with such a loss.

The support group meets at 7:30 PM on the first Wednesday of the month in the shelter’s Community Room. There is no charge to attend these meetings and all are welcome.

Please ring the doorbell when arriving at the shelter as we are closed to the public on Wednesdays.