AWLA Pawpourri Spring 2018

Letter from the Chairman of the Board, Gary Sturm

Each Spring many people celebrate the promise of warmer weather, the arrival of cherry blossoms, and the days of longer sunshine. Each Spring the Animal Welfare League of Arlington celebrates its volunteer foundation at an annual volunteer appreciation event. Volunteers, in fact, own AWLA. A volunteer Board of Directors sets policies and direction of the League and appoints a President/CEO. The President/CEO then manages the staff and programs, which in turn, rely on hundreds of volunteers to provide critical support of operations. Volunteers thereby literally set an ethical “tone at the top” and then participate in a principled commitment to animal welfare, all the way to the front desk reception of public visitors.

The recognized character of the League is the result of an interdependent matrix of responsibilities. Each of these pieces recruit volunteers who elevate the sum through exceptional contributions to its individual parts: hands-on time with the animals, office support, visitor reception, animal transport, adoptions, fostering, photography, graphic design, special events, and community outreach and education. There are a lot of moving parts. Some volunteers rise to the challenge of welcoming foster animals into their homes, a 24/7 commitment to enriching, and in the case of neonatal kittens, literally saving lives. In addition to the usual routine shelter protocols, foster volunteers have helped thousands of at-risk animals thrive and flourish.

There are countless kittens, cats, puppies, dogs, and small companion animals each year who need our help. Founded in 1944 by a small group of 12 volunteers, the League has grown to a professional staff of more than 35 skilled specialists, over 250 volunteers, and an annual budget in excess of three million dollars. Together, we are patently dedicated to the League’s mission of improving the lives of animals. The AWLA volunteer-staff partnership is surely a model for unconditional success!

Gary Sturm, Chairman of the Board of Directors

Open Paw Program Lets Dogs Be Dogs

One of our most important missions here at AWLA is to follow the Five Freedoms, which are internationally-accepted standards of care to which every animal is entitled.

We pride ourselves on doing our utmost every day to follow these standards, but there is always room for improvement! That is why we are currently focusing more on the Fourth Freedom: freedom to express normal behavior.

Shelter enrichment, which is the act of improving the quality of life for our resident animals, is essential to fulfilling the Fourth Freedom. We’ve had a very good enrichment program here at AWLA for many years, but we knew that there was more that we could be doing. Which is why we are introducing a wonderful program here at the shelter - the Open Paw Program!

Adoptions & Behavior Counselor Jose Serrano works with Cabella on basic manners (and of course, has time for some ear scratches).

The Open Paw program was founded in 2000 by Kelly Dunbar. The program helps shelters focus on their animals' learning and retaining important social skills, such as basic manners, while they are at the shelter. This, in turn, helps pets find new families and transition successfully into their new homes.

We have already instituted many of the recommended projects from the Open Paw program, and are working on more. Our dog adoption kennels now have treat dispensers paired with buckets that contain each dog's afternoon meal. Bright signs encourage anyone who passes by to reward the dogs for calm behavior, like sitting or standing quietly on the floor (as opposed to jumping up and barking). Our visitors are now an important part of our dogs’ daily enrichment and training, which in turn makes our visitors more likely to connect with an animal and consider adoption. Our staff and volunteers work with the dogs to teach them basic cues like ‘sit’, ‘down’, letting go of toys, and more. This is another great way to help our dogs find new homes, and keep their minds and bodies busy during their stay!

Buckets are hung on each kennel and filled with the dogs' afternoon meals. Visitors can give a few pieces of kibble to a dog when they are exhibiting positive behaviors, like sitting or standing calmly.

Our dogs' olfactory senses are a part of this enrichment, too; we use all-natural calming products to help our more nervous and scared dogs to feel calmer in their kennels, and help all the dogs relax during the more busy and stressful times of the day.

We know that these comforts do not replace a home. We hope that with this new program, and a continued love and passion for our work, we can make our animals’ time with us less stressful, more fulfilling and we hope, happier.

Don’t worry, we haven’t forgotten about our smaller furry friends! We are in the beginning stages of more cat and small animal enrichment programs and will keep you up to date with their progress! We will also be setting up more programs that are open to the public, like a DIY enrichment area, and an expanded Paws and Read program!

by Amy Schindler, Director of Behavior and Adoptions, & Chelsea Lindsey, Communications Specialist

April is National Volunteer Appreciation Month

"Teamwork is the ability to work together toward a common vision. The ability to direct individual accomplishments toward organizational objectives. It is the fuel that allows common people to attain uncommon results." --Andrew Carnegie

AWLA would like to thank all of the wonderful, compassionate, generous, and talented volunteers who give their time to the League every day and all year round.

In FY 2017, approximately 260 volunteers gave more than 24,590 hours in more than 33 different assignments including: laundry, dog playgroups, graphic design, fostering, and adoptions counselors in addition to so many others!

Without our volunteers, we’d need to increase our staff by 12 additional members to maintain the level of service and amazing accomplishments over the past year. We couldn’t do it without our volunteer team - thank you for sharing your passion, time and talents with us!

by Jennifer Katac, Director of Community Programs

Just a few of our volunteers doing what they do best!

Happy Tails: Pi

Pi during her stay at AWLA

Pi’s is a story of heartbreak and happiness. She first came to the shelter when she was four years old because her family was moving. After six months she was adopted and lived with her second family for five years until they returned her, saying they no longer had the time to care for her. Then nine years old, Pi was obviously not happy to be back at the shelter and, while still as affectionate as ever, she was less tolerant of attention and did not seek out new friends the way she had before. Weeks became months and as Pi’s one year “anniversary” of being at the shelter approached, we pulled out all the stops to find her a new home. On March 14th, in celebration of Pi Day, we celebrated our Pi...and it worked! After reading Pi’s story on social media, a young woman came to meet her and Pi found her new family.

When you read the following update from Pi’s adopter, you’ll see that all Pi needed was a chance.

“Pi and I have been together for about a month now, so I wanted to give you all an update. I think she is very happy to have a forever home with me, and I am completely obsessed with her. She is so sweet and full of surprises. The first surprise when I brought her home was discovering that she might be a bit of a narcissist. She stares at herself in the mirror all the time (literally for hours and I don't know why!). She still likes to crawl under blankets when she naps. Her favorite place to sit is on a lap, and she likes to have her belly rubbed.

I think after being in the shelter for a year, she missed being outdoors. She enjoys watching birds and staring out the window. Since she loves looking out the window, I decided to try taking her for walks. Sometimes I take her out in a travel carrier, but sometimes she gets to go for walks in her harness. She doesn’t like the harness very much but she loves being outside so she tolerates it. Right now I think she is a bit upset that I'm feeding her diet food, but I think she'll get over it!

Thank you for taking care of Pi for so long before I got to meet her! She is everything I ever wanted and I'm so glad I get to love her now”.

Pi in her new home

Fostering Lives and Love

We are firm believers that fostering saves lives. Traditionally, we have placed pets into foster homes when they were too young to be adopted, or when they had a medical or behavioral issue that we thought could improve in a home. But here’s the thing, there are so many more reasons to place pets into foster homes, and they don’t just benefit the pet!

Fostering is a great way for a family to have a pet experience, even if they are not ready to adopt a pet of their own. Fosters give pets a real home experience, and have the satisfaction of seeing them go home to their new families. We have recently introduced some new foster programs to help our animals have a more comfortable stay, and most importantly, normal life experience while they are with us.

Animal Ambassadors

The Animal Ambassadors program helps us get adoptable dogs (and sometimes cats) out of the shelter and into a home where they have a chance to shine! Some pets don’t show their true personalities in the stressful kennel environment which, in turn, causes them to stay in the shelter longer because visitors don’t connect with them. The Animal Ambassadors program gets these pets into a real home environment where the dogs can relax, and their fosters can discover the dogs’ true personalities. Most pets we place into foster for this reason go from being stressed out, shy, and not interested in attention, to being incredibly smart, affectionate, wonderful pets that anyone would be lucky to have as part of their family.

The Animal Ambassadors program empowers foster families to be a vital part of the adoption process. Fosters are encouraged to market their foster pet in their communities and through their social media channels. In addition, these fosters are invited to meet potential adopters and help us find a great home for their foster pet.

Weekend Warriors

Weekend Warriors is a part of our Animal Ambassadors program that allows people to foster on a more short-term basis. Weekend Warrior fosters pick up one of our eligible dogs and take them home for the weekend, making sure to bring them to one of our off-site adoption events to help that pet reach a new pool of potential adopters. Weekend Warrior fosters also take and share photos and videos of their foster pet so we can better market them to our adopters when they come back to the shelter.

The Bond Program

The Bond Program provides outside-the-shelter foster care for animals whose owners are in crisis. It is designed to preserve the bond between human and animal and prevents animals from being surrendered to the shelter. The program also provides for animals who come to the shelter through Animal Control and are in custody pending court hearings. Bond Program fosters care for these animals while Animal Control works with the owner to find a workable solution.

Ringworm Foster Program

Ringworm (which is a fungus, not a worm!) is a somewhat common condition amongst kittens, and less commonly, cats, in shelters across the country. Although not fatal, ringworm is highly contagious in the close quarters and high pet populations of animal shelters. Treatment of ringworm requires the affected cats to be quarantined in the shelter for weeks, and sometimes months.

Being isolated from other animals and having minimal contact with people for weeks at a time is very detrimental to the physical and mental well-being of kittens and cats. The Ringworm Foster Program helps us get kittens out of the shelter and into homes where they can be treated but still get the socialization, exercise, and affection that they so desperately need.

Carrot is one of our kittens currently being treated for ringworm (and loved on!) in a foster home.

AWLA provides all supplies, medications, and treatments needed, as well as training on how to properly care for kittens with ringworm. All a foster needs is a separate room that can be cleaned easily (large bathrooms are perfect!) and kept separate from other animals, and lots of time to cuddle with kittens!

by Chelsea Lindsey, Communications Specialist

Walk for the Animals

May 12, 2018 - 9AM-1PM

Help us save more lives this year - join us and Walk for the Animals on May 12th! From 9AM-1PM, put on your walking shoes with other AWLA supporters and local animal lovers and help us raise life-saving funds that provide critical medical care, food, shelter, training, and adoption services for thousands of animals each year.

Walkers will have a choice of two routes: a three-mile walk or a one-mile stroll. Both will begin and end at AWLA. Supporters can enjoy tours of the shelter, meet adoptable animals, take part in dog agility demonstrations, a live DJ, food trucks, and more!

Will you help us reach our $78,000 goal?

if it's spring, it's baby season

Ask AWLA Animal Control Officers what they are most frequently asked about and the resounding answer will be “wildlife." In fact, inquiries about wildlife make up 50% of the calls fielded by AWLA’s Animal Control team.

During the spring season the greatest number of calls are about injured or potentially orphaned wildlife. Residents often encounter young wildlife and believe that the animal is orphaned and in need of help. Since this is usually not the case, read on to find out what to do if you find a baby bird or rabbit.


Many people are not aware that songbirds fledge from their nests and spend days (sometimes even up to a week) on the ground, picking the clear casings off their feathers and building their shoulder strength to fly. Their parents stay nearby and come down to feed their young until they are able to fly. During the spring months you may find these grumpy-looking little fledglings on sidewalks, front lawns, and in parks throughout the county. The best thing you can do is to leave them alone, only intervening if they are in immediate danger (e.g. in the middle of the road). If they seem to be in a dangerous spot, gently move them to a nearby bush or grassy area, where the parents can still find them. (Don’t worry, your touch won’t cause the parents to abandon their young.)

Thanks to Rosemary Mosco for this helpful (and funny) chart


Baby rabbits, or kits, stay in the nest for about three weeks, until their eyes are open and their ears stand up. Rabbit nests are not elaborate - usually, just a small indentation in the ground, surrounded by grass. If you do find a nest of baby rabbits and see no sign of the mother, don’t be alarmed, mother rabbits typically check on their nests twice a day (at dawn and dusk), and stay hidden the rest of the time. If you think that the babies have been alone too long, you can gently check them to see if they are cold or dehydrated. Even if you or a pet uncovers a nest, the mother will still care for them. You can also cover the nest with small twigs, and check back around dusk or dawn - if they twigs have been disturbed or moved, you’ll know that the mother has been checking on her babies.

Use flour or twigs to see if a mother rabbit is feeding her babies

If you are ever concerned about wildlife of any kind, please to call us at (703) 931 9241 and we will be happy to assist you!

by Jennifer Toussaint, Chief of Animal Control, and Chelsea Lindsey, Communications Specialist

Thank you for your continued support! If you would like to help us keeping savings lives, consider making a donation to the League today.

Let's Get Social!

Thank you to our top sponsors:

Low-Cost Rabies & Microchip Clinics

Please bring dogs on leashes and cats in carriers. Please bring proof of a prior rabies shot (a rabies certificate, not a tag) to get a three-year rabies shot. Without it your pet will receive a one-year shot. Rabies shot: $10 Microchip: $35

May 24, June 28, August 23, September 27, October 25, December 6

6:30PM - 8:30PM

Workplace Giving

The League depends on donors who give each year through their work-place giving programs. These donations allow the League to continue its good works. Please consider designating the Animal Welfare League of Arlington with the appropriate codes:

Combined Federal Campaign (CFC): #90065, United Way (UW): #8804, Commonwealth of Virginia Campaign (CVC): #8068


Editor: Chelsea Lindsey

President/CEO: Sam Wolbert

Contributors: Gary Sturm, Amy Schindler, Jennifer Katac, Jennifer Toussaint, Kat Williams, Susan Sherman

AWLA Board Officers

Gary Sturm, Board Chair, Craig Mehall, Vice Chair, Allen Herzberg, Treasurer, Jennifer Case, Secretary

AWLA Board Members

Beth Burrous, Diane Greenlee, Jordan Howard, David Isaacson, Sally Kaplan, Ed Kussy, Diva Nagula, Jeff Newman, Sheila Raebel

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington

2650 S Arlington Mill Dr, Arlington VA 22206

(703) 931 9241


League Hours

Monday/Wednesday/Thursday/Friday: 12PM-7PM

Tuesday: CLOSED

Saturday/Sunday: 12PM-4PM

Created By
Animal Welfare League of Arlington

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