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. 


Volunteer FAQs

Thank you for expressing an interest in helping the League, and helping our animals! Following you will find some of the basic information about volunteering at the AWLA.


AWLA volunteers are committed, caring individuals who positively impact the lives of our animals. They work closely with the public to provide customer service and socialize animals. The valuable support and service they provide is truly appreciated by the animals, staff and visitors.

Volunteers can train to work with:

    • Dogs
    • Cats
    • Small Animals

Following are other areas in which our volunteers help:

    • Office support (answering phones, data entry, help with mailings)
    • General shelter support (dishes, laundry, sorting donations, greeting visitors)
    • Seasonal and/or project-based help (this can be anything from gardening to graphic design as many volunteers offer their professional skills when needed)
    • Special events assistance (for adoption events and League fundraisers)
    • Wildlife transport (to bring injured wildlife to licensed rehabilitators in the area)

Our volunteers help in a variety of other ways. If you have a special talent that you’d like to share with us and our residents, please contact the League at 703-746-4774 or email volunteers@AlexandriaAnimals.org.


The League asks all those interested to complete a few simple steps before becoming a volunteer.

1. Attend a Volunteer Information Session (Click here to sign up for upcoming dates)

2. Complete an online volunteer application. You will receive the link to the application when you attend the information session.

3. If you are selected to move forward in the application process, you will be given the dates and times to attend a “Shelter Basics 101 Tour and Workshop” (approximately 1 hour).

4. Work with a volunteer mentor to progressively add skills needed to volunteer in the chosen animal specialty. Trainings with mentors are 1.5 hour sessions at the shelter and you will need to take one to three sessions before you are ready to volunteer alone.

5. Meet with the Volunteer Program Manager to set up to officially join the volunteer program so you can volunteer independently.

6. Schedule your regular times to volunteer and join us at the shelter!


League staff members train each volunteer, and ask that all volunteers spend two hours per week for a minimum of six months in their roles as volunteers. We ask all volunteers to schedule their time so that we know when volunteers will be in the shelter and may be able to assist with certain tasks.


The League understands that everyone’s time is precious. If you cannot commit to a regular volunteer schedule in the shelter, we welcome your time and talent in other ways: helping with special events; disseminating League information; and assisting with administrative tasks and special projects (some of which can be completed at home).


We require that all volunteers be over the age of 18. Younger shelter friends can still help our furry residents as part of our Youth Volunteer Program. Click here for more information.


Please contact the League at 703-746-5584 or email volunteers@AlexandriaAnimals.org.