Fospice Care for Alexandria’s Animals

Fospice Care for Alexandria AnimalsFostering for animals is an emotional business; there is much time and love invested in an animal that is brought home, with the expectation and hope that it will continue to thrive beyond the defined period of care.The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) has tremendous respect for and is in awe of the commitment shown by all of its foster families, especially with “kitten season” quickly approaching. But there is a special group of fosters that deserve special recognition: Fospice caretakers have opened up their hearts and homes for animals who, because of extreme medical conditions, do not have a life expectancy that makes adoption a reasonable expectation. However, these animals deserve quality of life for the time they have remaining, and it is the mission of the AWLA to make sure that they get it.

Melody’s Story

Melody’s cancer was spreading. Weeks of waiting on test results after removal of a large mammary tumor led to heartbreaking news: the cancer has moved into Melody’s lungs, and veterinary oncologists estimated that the 7-year-old hound dog had 2 to 3 months to live. With chemotherapy, it could be as long as 6 months. Either way, Melody needed to be quietly comfortable, in a location outside of the bustling and noisy shelter. The foster who had been taking care of Melody during her diagnosis and surgeries decided that she could continue to stay with them as long as she was able — and one of AWLA’s first “Fospice” cases developed.


About the same time, another dog was undergoing the same screenings and procedure as Melody: Koko also arrived at the shelter with multiple mammary tumors, and while AWLA’s medical team succeeded in removing them, the trauma to the tiny body of the 15-year old Pomeranian made recovery difficult. Koko’s health and age also made it hard to find an adopter. Our team made the decision to place Koko into foster care before her health could decline further. While in foster care, AWLA discovered that Koko’s had developed a cancerous mass in her stomach. Her exact prognosis is unknown.

Not that the sassy little mite lets that stop her from winning the hearts of everyone she meets, including her foster family. Lilly and Dave Pierce are AWLA Legacy Donors who support the shelter in so many ways; it was an easy decision for them to continue to care for the doggie diva they lovingly refer to as “Koko Chanel.” Under their supervision, Koko continues  to put on weight, experiences daily outings and enjoys gentle pampering, massages and daily treats.

Rosemary’s Fund

AWLA’s mission is to save and care for the welfare of animals, no matter the species, age, or condition. On average, more than a quarter of the animals who enter AWLA care are above the age of 10; AWLA has established Rosemary’s Fund to provide care specifically to these senior animals. With the help of Rosemary’s Fund and the fosters who have opened up their hearts and homes, the welfare of hundreds of animals is improved for the rest of their lives, long-term or short. If you are interested in becoming a foster and changing an animal’s life today, call 703-746-4774 or email us at