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 is assisted by a vibrant corps of volunteers who help with everything from dog walking and cat socializing to wildlife transport and even gardening. Our volunteers provide all the “extras” that we need to keep our animals happy and our shelter humming. Never afraid to roll up their sleeves and tackle a new task, the League’s dedicated volunteers pitch in when and where they are needed most, sometimes at high-profile events and sometimes folding the mountains of laundry generated every day. Every task is important, and we sincerely appreciate every volunteer hour.

Volunteering at the League is a two-way street. Volunteers give their time and talent and receive the love and affection of hundreds of animals (and humans!) in return.


Dog Adoption Assistants: Are you a lover of dogs, and people too? Then you might just be interested in our volunteer position of Dog Adoption Assistant! Our adoption centers are very busy on the weekends and evenings. Adoption Assistants are key at the AWLA, truly bringing pets and people together. Dog adoption assistants work on Saturdays and Sundays and some weekday evenings at the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter which is operated by the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. They assist in the introductions between shelter dogs and potential adopters, answer questions about adoption and other shelter procedures and answer general questions about animal behavior and care.

Animal Care Volunteers: Volunteers working in animal care help fulfill the mission by providing animals with clean, comfortable housing that leads to healthier, happier and ultimately more adoptable animals.

Donation Sorting Team: Do you love to organize?  Do you get excited when you can sort a pile of stuff into “keep,” “throw out” or “give away”? Do you enjoy putting order to mayhem?  Is a label machine your favorite tool? If yes, we need your help!

Read a full descriptions of these fun and impactful volunteer opportunities by clicking here,


Dog volunteers: Dog volunteers provide care and attention for adoptable dogs in their kennels as well as opportunities for them to walk and play outside of the kennel.

Cat volunteers: Cat volunteers provide care and attention to the cats in the Cat Adoption Room.  They assist the public with questions regarding adoptions and carry out stress-reduction activities and enrichment activities, while socializing the cats and kittens.

SMAM (Small animal) volunteers: SMAM (Small Animal) Volunteers provide care and attention to SMAMS on the adoption floor. They socialize and exercise small animals to improve their quality of life and increase their opportunities to be adopted.

Super Helper volunteers: As a Super Helper, you help keep everything running smoothly at the shelter by assisting with daily tasks such as: dishes/laundry, sorting donations, preparing Kong treats and other enrichment toys and/or greeting visitors.

Is our volunteer program for you?

We hope so! We have a variety of volunteer opportunities based on your availability, interests, skills, and needs. Please reference the descriptions in our volunteer opportunities directory to signup for the opportunity most suitable for you!

Are you interested in joining our team of volunteers who handle our animals? Volunteers in these programs should expect to:

  • commit to a minimum of six months of service.
  • contribute a minimum of two hours weekly.
  • Attend required animal handling trainings.

If you are able to meet the requirements above, we welcome you to join our team of regularly scheduled animal handling volunteers. Thank you for carefully considering these requirements before attending any required trainings. You can view animal handling and other opportunities requiring a regularly, weekly commitment of six-months in the volunteer opportunities directory

We are always seeking volunteers for the Foster Care ProgramClick here to learn more about fostering animals for the League.

Volunteers under the age of 18 can participate in the Youth Volunteer Program. Click here for more information.

Thinking about becoming an AWLA Volunteer? Join us for an info session – no commitment required!

Upcoming Volunteer Information Sessions:

For prospective dog adoption assistant volunteers: Sunday, October 18th at 11 a.m. (Click here to sign up.)

For prospective dog, cat and small animal volunteers: Monday, November 16th at 2 p.m. (Click here to sign up.)

Please check back in the future to learn about more opportunities for new volunteers.


Click here to sign in to Volgistics.