New FIV Adoption Policy and AWLA’s Culture of Improvement

Posted on July 12, 2018

At the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, one of our core values is progressiveness: we strive to always be on the leading edge of animal care through continual improvement. The animal sheltering landscape is constantly changing and evolving through new research, upgraded best practices, and improved philosophies, and a key tenet of our organization is to be on the forefront of those advances.

This culture of continual improvement frames our recent policy announcement to allow the adoption of FIV+ cats into homes with non-FIV+ cats. (Previously, FIV+ cats were only adopted into single-cat homes or with other FIV+ cats.) Unlike five or ten years ago, the research today is overwhelmingly in support of the new practice. A study published in the Veterinary Journal from scientists at Purdue University’s College of Veterinary Medicine established that FIV is transmitted only by deep bite wounds caused by intense fights. Therefore, with proper introductions and taking into account the individual cats’ personalities, FIV+ cats can live with non-FIV+ cats and not transmit the virus during normal day-to-day interaction.

The policy shift will improve the lives of our cats, as evidenced by the story of two FIV+ AWLA alums, Mason and Da Vinci. Both Mason and Da Vinci were sweet, playful adult FIV+ cats, and each received their fair share of attention from potential adopters. Mason came to us in August 2015 before our new FIV adoption policy, while Da Vinci was with us after the policy took effect in June 2018.

As you can imagine, with more restrictions in place, Mason was harder to adopt. Despite being a love-able and cuddly guy, Mason remained with us for 357 days – a full year – before finding the perfect home. Da Vinci, on the other hand, went to his forever home in seven days.

357 versus 7. A small policy shift, but a huge difference.

Our new FIV adoption policy is one of many examples of AWLA as innovators and leaders. We are always looking to improve because we have to – the lives of Mason and Da Vinci depend on it, as well as the lives of all those other cats out there waiting to be saved.

Sam Wolbert, President & CEO