ARLINGTON, Va. (July 2, 2015) – The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA), Arlington County’s only animal shelter, far exceeds national standards with a successful placement rate of 95 percent. The percentage of companion animals that were either adopted, returned to their owners, or transferred to one of AWLA’s network of rescue and rehabilitation partners has increased each year since 2010 (when it was 76%).
“As an open admission shelter for Arlington county, it is our duty to accept every animal surrendered to our care, independent of the circumstance,” said Neil Trent, AWLA president and CEO. “Every day we strive to protect vulnerable animals, as well as to find loving and permanent homes for all companion animals in our community.”
With more than 1,600 dogs, cats and small companion animals coming through its doors in fiscal 2015, how is AWLA able to achieve such a high positive outcome rate?
Here are just a few of the ways in which AWLA saves lives and maintains a high positive outcome rate:
- An Army of Volunteers: More than 500 volunteers provide love, enrichment, and exercise to animals during their stay at AWLA. In the fiscal year just ended, volunteers gave more than 25,000 hours of their time in service to AWLA shelter animals. Dogs enjoy daily off-site walks and organized play groups lead by volunteers. Stuffed Kong toys and other enrichment items keep their minds stimulated throughout the day. Cats and small companion animals take pleasure in daily one-on-one play and cuddle time with volunteers.
- Network of Foster Homes: Some animals need special care which is best provided in a home environment. AWLA places puppies and kittens too young for adoption, animals recovering from illness or surgery, and animals with special needs in one of more than 65 foster homes. In FY2015, 304 animals were helped through AWLA’s foster program. Foster families take animals into their homes for as little as a weekend or up to several months depending upon the animals’ needs. AWLA provides foster training and covers all expenses associated with caring for a foster animal, including food and medical expenses.
- State-Of-The-Art Shelter Medicine with Donor Support: AWLA veterinary staff tends to the medical needs and well-being of the League’s animals. In FY2015, over 800 life-improving procedures and surgeries were performed on AWLA shelter animals. The Woody and Mickey Healthy Pet Fund gives AWLA the resources to provide medical care for shelter animals that is beyond what most shelters can do.
- Professional Behavior Team: AWLA has a well-trained behavior team that assesses the behavioral needs of dogs and cats and puts enrichment and behavior modification programs in place to keep shelter animals mentally healthy and to help animals become more appealing to adopters. They share strategies with adopters to help make each placement successful, as well as provide follow-up advice and help when needed.
- Storytelling: Nearly 16,000 people follow AWLA on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Instagram. Over 100 animals alone landed their adoptive homes via a news story or social media.
Because AWLA has been so successful at placing animals through these efforts, there are sometimes available spaces on the adoption floor. Often AWLA will reach beyond its jurisdiction borders to take animals from under-resourced and overburdened shelters in Virginia and beyond, including West Virginia, Louisiana, Florida, Korea, and Puerto Rico. In FY2015, 600 dogs, cats, and small companion animals were transferred into AWLA, where they were adopted into loving homes.
To join AWLA’s mission to improve the lives of animals and learn about becoming a foster parent, volunteer, or donor or to view AWLA’s diverse selection of companion animals including dogs, cats, rabbits, birds, guinea pigs, and hamsters visit www.awla.org.