Reclaiming a Lost Pet

If you have lost a pet you should immediately file a lost dog, cat or other pet report with the Animal Welfare League of Arlington by calling 703-931-9241 x 200 or email mail@awla.org. You may also review pets that have either been found and brought to the League or been reported by the public as found.

Shelter Procedures for Lost Pets

  • Pets without identification are held as stray for at least five days according to the Arlington County Code.
  • Pets with collars, microchip identification, tattoos, or other signs of ownership are held for at least 10 days (as per Virginia State code) while we make every effort to contact their owners.
  • Pets not claimed by owners may become candidates for our adoption program. Animals may not be adopted until after their stray holding period (five or 10 days depending on identification) has expired.

Reclaiming Your Lost Pet

In order to identify and reclaim your lost pet, you must do the following, according to the Arlington County code and animal shelter requirements:

  • Owners should bring proof of ownership such as photographs or veterinary records when coming to reclaim their pets.
  • *Dog owners must bring written proof of current dog license for the area in which they live.
  • **Dog and cat owners must bring written proof of current rabies vaccination. A rabies tag does not include the expiration date or the animal description, so it cannot serve as proof of current vaccination.
  • A board fee of $25 per calendar day your pet is in the shelter must be paid to the shelter.
  • If this is a second impoundment within a one year period, owners are required to pay an additional $10 to Arlington County.
  • If this is a third impoundment within a one year period, owners are required to pay an additional $20 to Arlington County.
  • If this is a fourth impoundment within a one year period, owners are required to pay an additional $30 to Arlington County.

*If the owner does not have a current dog license then they must bring a copy of their rabies vaccination certificate and apply for a license at the animal shelter before taking the dog home. The fee for a license is $10 for a one year license.

**If the owner does not have proof of a current rabies vaccination, a $25 deposit is required that will be refunded if the owner supplies proof of current rabies vaccination to the animal shelter within 14 days of reclaiming the animal.

Please note that according to Arlington County code, the animal shelter is not required to return a dog to its owner until the rabies vaccination is current or paid for and a County license is paid for.

Shelter Procedures for Locating Owners

  • Animal shelter staff call all phone numbers listed on any available identification.
  • Animal shelter staff scan all stray pets for a microchip. If we find a microchip, we call the registration company for any available contact information and call all phone numbers available.

If a stray pet is found in another jurisdiction, shelter staff contact the animal shelter for that jurisdiction for potential lost reports and to file a found report.