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 Animal Welfare League of Alexandria is pleased to announce a trap-neuter-return (TNR) program for Alexandria’s feral cats. Thanks to a generous grant from PetSmart Charities, the League has launched a service program to address the health and growing numbers of free-roaming cats in the City. Managing feral cat populations is an important duty for any community that truly wants to create a more humane world for all animals. Through our TNR program, we help colony caretakers combat the problem of cat overpopulation in a humane and effective manner. Our grant covers all costs of the TNR program, including spay and neuter surgeries, humane traps, transportation, staffing, and education materials.


The AWLA is partnering with Alley Cat Allies, a leading authority on TNR programs, to reduce the feral cat population in our communities. Research shows that TNR programs not only reduce the number of feral cats, but improve the lives of cats and their relationships with caregivers as well. TNR programs require time, patience, and cooperation, but long-term studies show that the sizes of managed colonies decrease significantly. Click here for more data on TNR programs.

Fairfax County implemented a TNR program in October of 2008 and has experienced positive results, including a 58% decrease in feral cat offspring the shelter’s foster care program. Read more about the successes in Fairfax County.

What is a feral cat?

Feral cats are those born and raised in the wild, or those who have been abandoned or lost and reverted to wild behavior in order to survive. Although some feral cats can tolerate mild human interaction, most are too fearful and unsocialized to be handled. They are quiet and keep their distance from humans, running off or hissing when approached. Feral cats should not be confused with stray cats or pet cats that are allowed outside. Stray cats are usually friendly, tame, and comfortable around people. They will rub against a person’s leg and even purr or meow.

How the TNR program works

If you are feeding feral cats in Alexandria and are concerned about their health and growing numbers, we can help. The TNR program is a cooperative effort to humanely and effectively reduce the feral cat population by providing free access to spay and neuter services. The program works by:

  • Identifying feral cat colonies in neighborhoods and communities throughout Alexandria
  • Scheduling community workshops where interested residents can discuss feral cats and learn more about the TNR program
  • Providing training and supplies for TNR participants
  • Making arrangements for feral cats to be spayed or neutered at local animal hospitals
  • Arranging for participants to pick up feral cats post surgery and release them back into their managed colonies
  • Training residents to become successful feral colony caregivers

We know residents will have many questions and concerns regarding feral cats and the TNR program. We encourage you to attend a community workshop to learn more and have all of your questions answered.

Community Workshops

The League will regularly hold community workshops to discuss feral cats, overpopulation, and the TNR program with all interested residents. Please join us at one or more of the upcoming workshops:

Thursday, March 21, 2013 – 6:30 PM to 8PM
Cora Kelly Recreation Center
25 West Reed Avenue
Alexandria, VA 22305

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Spay/Neuter Clinics

A FREE spay/neuter clinic for outdoor cats in the Arlandria and Sanger Ave/Beauregard neighborhoods will be held on Sunday. March 10th in Alexandria. If you are feeding or caring for outdoor cats, or if you would like to help trap and transport cats, please call 703.746.5581 or email TNR@AlexandriaAnimals.org to sign up. The League will cover the costs of all spay/neuter surgeries for outdoor cats from the targeted neighborhoods.

The clinic will be available to outdoor cats from other Alexandria neighborhoods at a reduced cost. If you are caring for outdoor cats and would like assistance managing population numbers, the low-cost spay/neuter clinic on March 10th is available to you and your cats. Call 703.746.5581 or email TNR@AlexandriaAnimals.org for more information.

Regardless of your neghborhood, all participants should contact the League to register and make arrangments.

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The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria will provide training and materials for participants and cover hospital costs associated with spay/neuter surgeries.

Residents may participate in the TNR program by signing up at a community workshop. For more information, please contact TNR@AlexandriaAnimals.org or call 703.746.5581.