Adoption Process

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) rescues and shelters all kinds of animals including dogs and puppies, cats and kittens, bunny rabbits, birds, gerbils, hamsters, guinea pigs, rats and more. See all of our dogs, cats, and small companion animals for adoption.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is a great place to visit when considering animal adoption. We aren’t just your local animal shelter, we will help you find the right pet and understand how to care for your new companion, and are always available to offer advice even after your adoption is complete.

The League adopts animals to residents of Virginia, Washington D.C. and Maryland.

All pets up for adoption receive basic health exams, tests and vaccinations. We work hard to know each animal and to help you make a good match.

The Animal Adoption Process

Our pet adoption process is friendly and thorough, to ensure a lifetime of love and companionship. The adoption process begins when you visit our animals. Our trained staff and volunteers are always on hand to help you choose a pet that is right for you.

Plan to spend at least an hour- this is a big decision!

Once you have met your pet, you will complete an application and an adoption counselor will review it with you. The entire process may take an hour or a few days, depending on the animal.

Animal Adoption Requirements

Identification, Address Verification & Rental Permission

Please bring with you a photo id such as a driver’s license or a current passport showing that you are at least 18 years old. For address confirmation, anything with your current name and address will do, such as a driver’s license, checkbook, utility bill or lease.

Also, if you rent, please confirm with your landlord or management office the pet policy including any restrictions, such as weight limits, type and number of pets allowed, etc. If you are adopting a dog over 25 pounds, we will need confirmation such as a lease or a statement on letterhead from the management office or owner.

 Adoption Application

We ask you to complete an adoption application so that we can understand your expectations and what type of animal would be the best match for you.

Animal Stray Period

Virginia law requires the shelter to keep strays on the premises for at least five or up to 10 days to give owners the time to find them. You cannot adopt a stray until this period is complete.

First-come, First-served

Applications are taken on a first-come, first-served basis. If others are ahead of you and you have met all adoption requirements, we will notify you if you become first in line. If you are unable to adopt your first choice, we will hold your application on file for three months.

Pre-adoption Counseling

Pre-adoption counseling sessions may be required for dogs and some small companion animals. The session, done only for the first fully approved applicant, is an educational session at the shelter in which an adoption counselor will review helpful equipment and tools, the animal’s personality and behavior, and give the adopter an opportunity to ask any questions.

In some cases in-home visits may be required and/or other requirements may be necessary prior to adoption.

Spay/Neuter Requirement

Virginia law requires that all dogs and cats adopted from shelters be spayed or neutered. We also require that rabbits, ferrets (most ferrets are already sterilized), and chinchillas be spayed or neutered. Dogs, cats, and rabbits are neutered or spayed prior to adoption unless an animal has a medical condition that requires the surgery to be postponed.

Arlington County Dog License

If you are a resident of Arlington County and you adopt a dog that is at least four months old and vaccinated against rabies, you will be required to purchase a dog license at the time of adoption. A one-year license is $10 and must be paid by cash or check made payable to the Treasurer of Arlington County.