A Message from our President & CEO on Covid-19

Posted on March 12, 2020

UPDATE 4/8/2020:

Temporary COVID-19 Virtual Adoption Program: AWLA is excited to announce that we are opening our adoption program with virtual adoptions! Although we are closed to the public, we still want to give the animals in our care the opportunity to find their new families while still adhering to social distancing . To do that, we’ll be setting our shelter pets up on virtual ‘dates’ with potential adopters! Here’s how our temporary virtual adoption process will work:

1. Email your adoption application to adoptions@awla.org (applications can be found at the top of each adopt an animal page). Please include the name of the pet(s) you are interested in in the subject line, and attach a photo of your driver’s license or valid ID.

2. One of our adoptions counselors will contact you to go over the pet’s medical history, personality information, etc. If it is a good match, we will set up a virtual meet and greet via Zoom with you, an adoptions counselor, and your chosen pet.

3. If you would like to move forward with adopting your chosen pet, our adoption counselor will set up a time for you to pick up the pet at the shelter! All paperwork and payment will be done via email or phone.

Adoptions will still take place on a first-come, first-serve basis and standard adoption policies apply. If you have questions, feel free to email adoptions@awla.org.

UPDATE 3/19/2020:

We can get through this, together.

We have been so incredibly grateful for all the support and offers of help we’ve received over the last week. Things are changing every day, but we always know we can rely on our friends and community.

Starting tomorrow, some more changes are being made at AWLA, in order to further ensure that our staff, volunteers, animals, and the public stay as safe and healthy as possible. We might be closed, but we’re not going anywhere. We are still here to help our community.

What’s changing (temporarily) at AWLA:

  • Adoption services are suspended until further notice.
  • Any animal that can go into a foster home will be picked up by their foster families tomorrow (3/20). We have had a huge outpouring of interest in fostering, so at this time we have enough foster homes. If you would like to be placed on a wait list to foster, visit www.awla.org/volunteer/foster-program/
  • Any animals that are not able to placed into foster will continue to be cared for by our Animal Care Team and other staff. With so few animals in the shelter, they will be getting lots of one-on-one attention!
  • Our Pet Pantry is still available to the public, but will be located outside our front door from 12PM-7PM each day. Anyone who is in need of supplies for their pet(s) is welcome to use the Pet Pantry. We do ask, however, that you use the honor system and only take what you need. We want to make sure there are enough supplies for all who need them.
  • We are asking Arlington residents who need to surrender a pet wait a few weeks unless it is a true emergency. If you have questions or need to schedule an emergency surrender, please email mail@awla.org.
  • Animal Control services are still available 24/7 for emergencies, and from 7AM-10PM for non-emergencies. Please call (703) 931-9241 to leave a message for the Animal Control team with our answering service.

We will continue to keep you updated on what’s happening at the shelter, and we will re-assess these changes at the end of the month. If you have questions or need assistance, send us a DM or email mail@awla.org. Remember…we can get through this together! We’ve been getting lots of requests of how our community can help our animals during this time, and we are so grateful! For the time being, we are asking the community NOT to drop off donated items at the shelter; instead, please consider purchasing much-needed supplies from our Amazon wishlist that will be shipped directly to the shelter.

Thank you all so much for your ongoing support during such an uncertain time. We are so happy to be a part of the Arlington community.


UPDATE 3/14/2020:

As of Sunday March 15th, the AWLA team will be on hand to care for the animals and provide resources to the community, however, our doors will be locked to minimize unnecessary foot traffic at our facility. If you have an appointment to adopt (more info below) or need to access resources offered such as our pet pantry, please ring the bell so that someone can assist you. We are so grateful for your support and understanding at this time!
Adoptions – interested adopters must make an appointment to meet the pet they are interested in via email at mail@awla.org. In your email, please include: the pet’s name, their A#, your full name, phone number, address, and any questions you may have. Once received, a member of the adoption team will contact you during our operating hours to schedule a meet and greet. Regular adoption policies still apply. We have many wonderful animals looking for new homes, so we encourage you to check out the animals on our website and think about adding a new friend to your family!


Community Services – if you need to surrender your pet- Arlington county or Falls Church residents contact us : we can help by offering resources to keep your pet. If you do need to surrender your pet and it is not an emergency, we may ask that you extend the surrender appointment date.


If you are experiencing any symptoms of illness, please do not visit the shelter for at least 72 hours after you are symptom-free.
Thank you all for your continued support!
Out of an abundance of caution, and in line with CDC recommendations, AWLA is cancelling all public events, classes, tours, and clinics for the rest of March. We feel that this in the best interest of our staff, volunteers, animals, and the public.  If you have any of the above scheduled with us, someone will be reaching out shortly to determine the next steps.  

At this time, no-one at our facility has tested positive for coronavirus, or has been identified as having contact with anyone who has tested positive. However, in an effort to reduce the risk of exposure, we are asking the public to help limit the number of people in the shelter for the immediate future. So, as well as cancelling events through March, we also want to ask our friends and supporters to be mindful when visiting the shelter.

We are continuing to operate as normal, and have lots of wonderful animals looking for homes, so please check out our adoptable animals here, or free app (Arlington Pets), and if you see an animal that you’d like to meet, give us a call at (703) 931-9241 to determine a good time to visit. Likewise, if you need to surrender a pet, wish to make a donation, or have any other questions, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We do, however, ask that those who are not doing the above refrain from visiting the shelter at this time. We hope that this will ensure that our staff and volunteers can continue caring for our animals with minimal disruption.

Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as well as the World Organization for Animal Health have issued advisories saying there is no evidence that companion animals can spread the virus and “there is no justification in taking measures against companion animals which may compromise their welfare.” However, we do recommend having a preparedness plan in place for your pets in case of an emergency.
We will be re-evaluating our plans at the end of March to see how we will proceed in April, so please stay tuned for updates. Thank you in advance for your understanding.  And stay well!
Sam Wolbert, President & CEO