Animal Transfers and our Commitment to Save Lives

Posted on March 8, 2018

If you’ve ever visited our shelter, you may have noticed something peculiar.

Here is a dog from Houston rescued after Hurricane Harvey, a cat coming from southwest Virginia, and, yes, that’s a rabbit from right across the border in West Virginia.  Come often enough and you may begin to wonder why these animals, transported from all over, are here?

Arlington is a fantastic community of animal lovers, and the resources, support, and lifesaving outcomes we have are unmatched by the majority of the nation.  Established spay/neuter efforts, effective animal control laws, and a robust humane infrastructure drives the progress we see in Arlington and our immediate surrounding area. Luckily, thanks to you, the pet overpopulation problem that exists in large parts of the United States, contributing to overcrowded shelters and space-based euthanasia, doesn’t exist here and hasn’t for some time.

So what are we to do?  Cover our eyes, shut the door, and let those under-resourced communities fend for themselves?

No. On the contrary, AWLA supports the transfer of animals to give them a second (and often, only) chance at finding a loving home and to reduce euthanasia within those under-resourced communities.  Transfers also provide a benefit to our local residents because there is a much greater pool of animals from which to adopt and a subsequent increased placement of local animals due to higher shelter traffic.

“Trying to rescue dogs and cats in a rural community is heart-breaking work,” says Loni Willey, Board President of Happy Tails Animal Rescue of Washington County, Virginia, one of our dedicated transferring partners.  “Happy Tails saves over 1,000 dogs and cats each year from southwest Virginia, and we are only successful because of organizations like AWLA.”

Because of our success, AWLA can reach beyond Arlington to make an even bigger impact.  In fact, last year AWLA rescued 788 animals from overcapacity shelters and rescues across Virginia, the nation, and even the world.  This year, we’ve set the goal of saving 900 animals through transfer, a 15% increase, and are specifically targeting areas in Virginia that are in most need of our help.

Also starting this year, I’ve made a commitment to begin a “give-back” program.  We don’t want to just be in those communities taking their animals.  Transfers may help in the short term, but it does little to alleviate the root cause of the problem.  Instead, we also want to provide support so that source shelters can divert resources to strengthen other lifesaving measures, like breaking the cycle of pet overpopulation.

It is up to us as a leader in animal welfare to help end the euthanasia of all healthy and treatable companion animals and not just those within our county borders.

Samuel Wolbert

AWLA President/CEO