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Save More Than 90% Of The Animals In Your Community? It's Easier Than You Think.

In 2013, Fairfax County, with more than one million residents, became the largest jurisdiction in the U.S. with a live release rate of animals above 90%. So far in 2014, our live release rate is 95%. If we can do it, so can your local shelter!

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Supportive Community Dedicated to Saving Homeless Animals' Lives

Barbara Mock Autrey

From the top County officials to the Police Department leadership to the countless volunteers and other supporters, Fairfax County is committed to creating a humane community. The newly expanded facility opened in May 2014, providing upgraded housing for sheltered animals, large outdoor play yards, a vet suite and community training rooms.

An Open Adoption Process

Pets are part of our families. Our staff works closely with adopters to help them find the best pet for their family. The adoption process is fun and educational and most animals go home on the same day they're adopted. And when it's all said and done, the staff and volunteers are right there to help each family celebrate their new addition, often with a round of applause and a photo!

Innovative Use of Social Media

Deb Cobb

The shelter's Creative Team is made up of two dozen talented volunteers and just one staff person who coordinates their efforts. From Facebook and Twitter to Buzzfeed and Instagram, we use social media to save lives. We've been particularly successful in advocating for pit bull-type dogs.

Rescue Partners

Deb Cobb

We partner with nearly 100 rescue organizations. So far in 2014, we have been able to take IN more animals than we have sent OUT to rescues, which is almost unheard-of for an open-access, municipal shelter. When we see an empty kennel, we reach out to other shelters and rescues and offer a 'spot' to an at-risk homeless animal at another shelter who may be facing euthanasia due to lack of space.

Innovative Enrichment Program for Dogs, Cats and Small Animals

Celeste Linthicum

The shelter has evolved into an enrichment center for cats, dogs and small animals. At Fairfax, homeless animals feel happy and loved while they wait for their forever homes. Guinea pigs and rabbits are treated to fresh produce and cuddle sessions while cats enjoy a variety of toys and games. Dogs benefit from stuffed, frozen Kong toys, Nylabones and puzzle games and regular play groups .

Comprehensive, Community-Supported Spay and Neuter Program

Deb Cobb

Since 2008, over 5,000 feral cats have been spayed or neutered through the shelter's Trap-Neuter-Return program. This keeps feral cat populations stable and reduces intake of homeless cats and kittens into the shelter. The shelter also offers low-cost rabies clinics and spay and neuter services for low income families.

Comprehensive, Creative Foster Program with Both Long- and Short-Term Options

In addition to regular, longer-term foster care, the shelter has short-term foster options. Weekend and afternoon foster sessions gives dogs a much-needed break from the stress of the kennel environment and cats who have been in the shelter more than 30 days are sent to foster homes whenever possible.

Shelter Dog "Power Hours"

Annie Lim

Got an hour, an afternoon or maybe even a whole day? Through the shelter's "Power Hour" program, volunteers and fosters can sign up to take a dog on a hike, to a park, or just on a little trip around town. Two requirements: an Adopt Me vest and a camera to document all the fun and help these pets show off for potential adopters!

A Dedicated Non-Profit Organization

Mary O'Malley

Nearly 5,000 animals, including cats, dogs, small mammals, reptiles and livestock, come to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter each year. Through donor and volunteer support, the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter provides funding for medical care, food, supplies and more to help the shelter care for these loving animals. People love to donate to the Friends because they know their money is going straight to medical care and enrichment for animals in need.

Staff Who Love Animals and People

Staff at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter works tirelessly to find homes for shelter pets and improve their care, and this work has not gone unnoticed. In 2014, we were proud to receive the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Compassion Award. Shelter Director Tawny Hammond received the 2013 Leadership Award from the Washington Metropolitan Council of Governments and staff members have won numerous other awards.

Off-Site Dog Walks

We take dogs out of the shelter so they can practice normal, real life behavior and have opportunities to strut their stuff for the public. Very often, they're spotted by their new families, who say they noticed the 'Adopt Me' vest and fell in love!

Medical and Behavioral Support and Post Adoption Services

Kristen Auerbach

From on-site shelter dog training classes to individualized behavior plans, staff and volunteers work seven days a week to keep shelter pets happy and healthy. Adopters receive lots of educational materials and access to support and services they can use after they adopt.

All Animals Are Treated as Individuals

FCAS has equal adoption policies for all animals, regardless of breed or perceived breed! The shelter used to have restrictions on 'pit bull' adoptions that made it hard for dogs labeled this way to find their forever homes. Now, we adopt out all animals using the same criteria, making sure that each and every dog has an equal shot to find a loving family. Advocates from Animal Farm Foundation provided education and support to facilitate this change.

Animal Control Officers Who Care

Fairfax County's award-winning Animal Control Officers dedicate their lives to helping abused and neglected animals. Biscuit, the dog in this photo, roamed feral for two years before Officer Enna Lugo went the extra mile to save his life. You can read his story here.

Humane Education

Deb Cobb

Our humane educator and outreach volunteers travel throughout the community to talk about the shelter's work and how the community can help homeless pets, representing the shelter at local events.

Cat Policies That Work!

The shelter provides education and support to those wishing to surrender their cats and uses managed intake as a means to keep the cat population in the shelter from exploding! Senior cats are given a big boost using social media and even grumpy cats find homes because of our creative marketing strategies.

So What's Our Secret to Success?

It doesn't take cute puppies and it doesn't take a lot of money to save the lives of most of the animals that come into your shelter. It's really about the people - the staff, volunteers, foster families, rescue partners, community leaders, animal control officers, social media followers and even those folks who tell everyone to adopt from the shelter! To save this many animals, it's the people who count. Oh, and by the way, these puppies are going to be available for adoption this week!