Frequently Asked Questions


 

dog with toy

 

 

GENERAL FAQs 

What are the shelter’s hours?

Tuesday - Friday, 12 noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with intake ending one hour prior to closing and adoptions ending one half-hour prior to closing.  The shelter is closed Sunday, Monday, and all major holidays.

How do I get to the shelter?

The address is 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA 22030.

  • From 495, take 66 West to 50 West Ox Road South. You will pass Fair Lakes and go over the 66 underpass. The shelter will be on the right at the next light.
  • From the Fairfax County Parkway coming south (from Reston/Herndon area), make a left at the light at Fair Lakes (toward the Government Center). Turn right on West Ox Road. The shelter is on the right at the next light.
  • From Fairfax County Parkway coming North (from Springfield area), exit at Route 29. Go straight over the 29 overpass onto West Ox Road. The shelter will be on the left.
  • From the Centreville/Manassas area, take 28 to 29 East to West Ox Road North. The shelter will be on the left.

 

GENERAL FAQs 

What are the shelter’s hours?

Tuesday - Friday, 12 noon to 7 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with intake ending one hour prior to closing and adoptions ending one half-hour prior to closing.

How do I get to the shelter?

The address is 4500 West Ox Road, Fairfax, VA 22030.

  • From 495, take 66 West to 50 West Ox Road South. You will pass Fair Lakes and go over the 66 underpass. The shelter will be on the right at the next light.
  • From the Fairfax County Parkway coming south (from Reston/Herndon area), make a left at the light at Fair Lakes (toward the Government Center). Turn right on West Ox Road. The shelter is on the right at the next light.
  • From Fairfax County Parkway coming North (from Springfield area), exit at Route 29. Go straight over the 29 overpass onto West Ox Road. The shelter will be on the left.
  • From the Centreville/Manassas area, take 28 to 29 East to West Ox Road North. The shelter will be on the left. 

Can I buy a dog license at the animal shelter?

Yes, dog licenses can be purchased at the shelter or from the Department of Tax Administration at the Fairfax County Government Center. All dogs over the age of four months residing in Fairfax County are required to be licensed. The cost of the license is $10. Licenses must be renewed at the beginning of each new calendar year (January). In order to purchase a dog license, a valid rabies certificate must be provided. A dog is required to wear this license tag whenever off the owner’s property. Cats do not require licenses in Fairfax County but need to be kept up-to-date on rabies vaccinations.  

How can I donate to the Shelter?

Donations may be dropped off during normal business hours. We accept most animal related items in good condition, but we do not accept prescription medications, blankets, sheets, fitted sheets, pillows, or heavily-used bowls or kennels. 

Do you give tours to the public?

Yes! We give tours to school and community groups on a regular basis. We recommend scheduling at least 30 days in advance. Contact us by e-mailing dasvolunteer@fairfaxcounty.gov to schedule a tour.

Is this a “no kill” animal shelter? 

Fairfax County Animal Shelter is Fairfax County’s only publicly-funded, open access, municipal shelter. We take in stray animals in need, owner-surrendered companion animals when the owner is no longer willing or able to care for them, and animals who have been seized or taken into custody by Animal Protection Police. We accept all companion animals from Fairfax County who are in need of care, regardless of health, age, temperament, or history. We do not euthanize for space or length of time, and all adoptable animals are given every opportunity for a new home and family. We have an incredibly compassionate staff, and we also have vibrant and active volunteer and foster programs. We know that every animal who enters our shelter will be given the best care and shown boundless love while they are in our care, and while they wait for their forever family to adopt them. We are very proud that, since 2013, our positive release rate has been over 90% each year!

ADOPTION

What does it cost to adopt an animal from the FCAS?

  • Dogs:
    • Through six months: $175
    • Seven months through five years: $125
    • Six years and older: $100
  • Cats:
    • Through six months: $125
    • Seven months through five years: $75
    • Six years and older: $50
  • Rabbits: $15
  • Ferrets: $15
  • Reptiles: $10
  • Other Small Animals: $5
  • Small Birds: $10
  • Medium Birds: $50
  • Large Birds: $100
  • Equine and Bovine: $200
  • Other Livestock: $20

Do I have to get the cat or dog spayed or neutered?

All cats and dogs are spayed or neutered before adoption.

Will the animal I adopt be current on its vaccinations?

Yes. The pet will have all necessary age-appropriate vaccinations, dogs are tested for heartworm, and cats are tested for FIV/FeLV. However, we recommend a visit to the vet of your choice within seven days of the adoption. Your vet will be able to tell you about any additional vaccines or treatments you may want to consider.

Can I visit with an animal?

Yes, just stop by the shelter during adoption hours, and once you see an animal with which you’d like to visit, just ask a volunteer or staff member to meet with the animal. You can interact with cats in their condos or in a visitation room. For dogs, there are outdoor pens to visit in or indoor rooms during inclement weather.  

How can I see what animals are available without coming into the shelter?

Pets available for adoption can be viewed online. The website is updated in real-time, so you will always know which pets are available. Pets are adopted on a first-come, first-served basis, and we do not put holds on animals.

LOST AND FOUND

How do I file a report for my lost pet or for a pet I’ve found?

Fill out the Lost or Found Pet Form. Please be specific with regard to color, gender, size and defining characteristics. The more information we can get the better. 

What should I do if find a pet (besides a healthy stray cat)?

Found pets may be taken to the shelter during normal business hours. Animal Protection Police Officers can assist when the shelter is closed; please call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131. The shelter only accepts animals found within Fairfax County. If you find a pet and wish to hold on to it, file a found report with the shelter and give the owners 14 days to report their pet lost. 

Are there any animals the animal shelter doesn’t accept?

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter accepts any animal in need, but there are some animals that we refer to other organizations due to their required specialized care or due to their species not being legal to own within the county without a permit. These animals include chinchillas, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, large reptiles, and aquatic animals such as fish and turtles. Finders of such animals can call the shelter at 703-830-1100 for recommendations. The shelter also has guidelines for accepting stray/feral/community cats, which are detailed below.

 

CATS IN THE COMMUNITY

Where can I find more detailed information about cats in the community?

Please visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/catsinthecommunity.htm and http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/trapneuterreturn.htm.

Are cats required to be licensed in Fairfax County?

Unlike dogs, cats in Fairfax County are not required to be licensed. Cats are legally allowed to be free-roaming with or without identification. Free roaming cats may be owned pet cats, community cats, or stray cats. 

Does the shelter accept stray cats?

The shelter does not accept healthy, free-roaming cats. The rate of return on stray cats is only around 20% so most stray cats that enter the shelter are never reclaimed. If the shelter took in healthy stray cats, many cats would have to be euthanized for lack of space. And because there are no licensing laws in Fairfax County, cats are legally allowed to be free-roaming. If a cat is sick, injured, declawed, or in danger, the shelter will accept it. If you find a sick or injured stray cat, contact Animal Protection Police at 703-691-2131. Kittens that are weaned from their mother, but under eight weeks old may be accepted on a case by case basis. Before trapping or moving the kittens, please call the shelter to determine the best course of action.

Is a feral cat different than a stray cat? 

A stray cat is a cat that might appear or act more friendlily towards humans. A feral cat is a cat that has not had contact with humans, does not tolerate interaction with humans, and is virtually wild. Feral cats are unable to be socialized to become house pets – most are very fearful and avoidant of humans, but might make good barn cats on a farm.

Free-roaming cats in a community are collectively called “community cats,” because they live in our community and are often fed by multiple people in a neighborhood. A community cat is a cat that does not have a specific home but is cared for by members of the community. While the shelter supports a community cat program for free-roaming community cats, we believe the best place for a family pet cat is in someone’s home.

If there are unwanted community cats on a person’s property, can the shelter come and remove them? 

Because cats are legally allowed to be free roaming in Fairfax County, Animal Protection Police do not trap community cats that have ventured onto private property. To discourage cats from entering a yard, residents should take the following steps:

  1. Do not leave out any food items, including scraps, cat food or dog food
  2. Consider using a cat repellent, commonly sold at hardware and home goods stores
  3. Check with neighbors to make sure they are not leaving out food for cats
  4. Minimize shelter opportunities by closing off holes in sheds and garages 

What should I do if I find a litter of kittens without the mother?

Unless the kittens are in immediate danger (i.e. in a busy roadway), do not touch or move them. The mother cat is most likely nearby and has left the kittens to hunt or eat. It is common for mother cats to leave for a short time, usually to return within a couple of hours. Well-meaning citizens often bring litters of infant kittens to the Shelter. While Shelter staff members and volunteers are trained to care for tiny kittens, they are no substitute for the mother. 

What is a Trap-Neuter-Return program?  How can I participate?

The Trap-Neuter-Return program is a non-lethal program in which cats are humanely trapped, taken to a veterinarian to be spayed/neutered, vaccinated against rabies and ear tipped (the universal symbol of a sterilized community cat) before being returned to their home territory. Since 2008, the FCAS has sterilized over 3000 cats that have been returned to their outdoor homes to live out their lives without reproducing and contributing to the community cat population. Contact the Shelter to learn more about the TRN program and how you can participate at animalshelter@fairfaxcounty.gov.

How can Fairfax County residents help cats in our community? 

Prevention is the best solution. Residents should spay and neuter their pets and keep pet cats indoors. If you are interested in fostering cats or kittens while they wait for their forever home, visit the website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/foster.htm. We are also always looking for more community members to become active in our Trap, Neuter, Return program. You can email us at animalshelter@fairfaxcounty.gov for more information.

 

SURRENDERING AN ANIMAL 

What animals do you take? What documents are needed?

We accept dogs, cats, and small companion animals. We are often full on cats and small animals and you should call the shelter at 703-830-1100 to confirm we have space for your animal. When we are full, we may ask you to hold on to your pet until we have an open space, unless it is an emergency. The shelter is most crowded from late spring to early fall.  To surrender a pet, individuals must provide a valid driver’s license or government issued photo ID, and bring any medical records you have for the pet. If you adopted your pet from a different shelter or rescue group, contact that organization first as you may be required by contract to return the pet.

Do you euthanize animals for owners? Is there a charge?

The shelter accepts animals surrendered for owner-requested euthanasia from Fairfax County residents at no charge, but we recommend owners take their pet to a veterinarian for end-of-life euthanasia and use the shelter as a last resort for this service. Individuals need to provide a valid driver’s license, and we ask that you bring medical records if possible showing the animal’s condition and indicating that euthanasia is necessary. Once the pet is surrendered to the shelter, our staff and/or veterinarian will make the final determination as to whether the animal with be euthanized or treated if possible. The shelter does not permit family members to be in the room or to see the pet afterward, and we are unable to return the pet’s ashes to the owner. If any of these requests are important to the owner, they should contact their veterinarian. The shelter is typically unable to accept birds or reptiles as euthanasia requests, so please call the shelter at 703-830-1100 for recommendations.

Are there any animals the animal shelter doesn’t accept?

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter accepts any animal in need, but there are some animals that we refer to other organizations due to their required specialized care or due to their species not being legal to own within the county without a permit. These animals include chinchillas, sugar gliders, hedgehogs, large reptiles, and aquatic animals such as fish and turtles. If you are looking to rehome such animals, you can call the shelter at 703-830-1100 for recommendations. 

 

VOLUNTEER/FOSTER 

What are the requirements to be a volunteer? 

To be a volunteer at the FCAS, you must be 18 years or older and must pass a criminal background check. Our volunteers are asked to give a minimum of six hours per month for a minimum of six months. Volunteers must be able to stand for extended lengths of time and lift 35 pounds unassisted. Volunteers interacting with animals need to be comfortable handling and interacting with the animals independently. 

What things can volunteers do at the Shelter?

Volunteers assist with virtually every aspect of what we do. From socializing and exercising cats and dogs to greeting visitors and answering questions, volunteers have a variety of job options open to them!

My school/community group is interested in participating in a ‘day of service’ to help the Shelter. Can we come as a group to volunteer at the Shelter?

When possible, the shelter will host community groups for service days. We typically have groups come for two to three hours and jobs include cleaning, beautification, and special projects. Depending on the time of year and staff schedules, we may not be able to accommodate all groups. Contact the shelter at animalshelter@fairfaxcounty.gov for more information.

How can I become a volunteer or foster parent? 

For information on our foster program, visit: http://www.fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter/foster.htm. For more information on our volunteer program, email us at dasvolunteer@fairfaxcounty.gov.

 

CRUELTY/NEGLECT AND WILDLIFE 

I found an injured animal, or my neighbor is mistreating his/her pet. What should I do?

All questions regarding injured animals or cruelty complaints should be referred to Animal Protection Police via the non-emergency number of the Fairfax County Police Department at 703-691-2131. 

I found a baby bird in my yard. What do I do?

Questions involving wildlife should be referred to the State Department of Game and Inland Fisheries at 804-367-1000 or the Wildlife Rescue League at 703-440-0800. Animal Protection Police only responds to sick or injured wildlife calls and/or if wildlife is physically in the living quarters of the home (not unfinished basements or attics)

There is a dead animal on the road. What do I do?

Call the Virginia Department of Transportation at 703-383-8368. 

Can I rent traps to catch wildlife? 

The shelter does not rent out traps for catching wildlife. Relocation of wildlife is not permitted in Virginia. Animal Protection Police will not remove an animal considered to be a nuisance or healthy wildlife found outside the home.

There are deer eating plants in my garden. How do I deter wildlife from damaging my property?

For information on managing wildlife interactions and resolving human-wildlife conflicts, the Virginia Wildlife Conflict Helpline is available toll-free at (855) 571-9003, 8:00AM-4:30PM, Monday through Friday.

HEALTH AND WELLNESS

When is the next low-cost rabies vaccination clinic?

Rabies clinics are offered on Sundays throughout the year. The cost is $15 per vaccine. For a list of dates, please refer to the flyer in the front office or check the county’s website at www.fairfaxcounty.gov/police/animal/rabies.htm. Please note that county dog licenses are also sold at the clinics for $10.  

Where can I get low-cost spay/neuter, veterinary care, or vaccines for my pet?

The shelter does not offer veterinary services of this type. Low-cost pet vaccination services are provided by Vetco. Their website is www.vetcoclinics.com. Anicira Veterinary Center in Manassas, VA offers low-cost exams, vaccinations, dentals, spay/neuter and other surgeries. Their website is manassas.anicira.org. Helping Hands in Richmond, VA offers low cost dental, spay/neuter, and other surgeries.  Their website is www.helpinghandsvetva.com. The Humane Society of Fairfax County can sometimes help low income families with emergency veterinary expenses. Their website is http://hsfc.org/.

I cannot afford food for my pet. What should I do?

The Ani-meals program is run by the Humane Society of Fairfax County. They provide food for families and pets in need. Their telephone number is 703-385-7387 and their website is http://hsfc.org/.


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