Surrendering Your Pet


Surrendering Your Pet (pdf)

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is an open access shelter, meaning that all animals are welcome regardless of age, health or behavior.  Many organizations that call themselves ‘no-kill’ are limited admissions shelters that only take in animals when they have space and, quite often, admit only healthy, behaviorally sound animals.  Without an open access shelter – what would happen to those animals that are a danger to the community or are too sick to be adopted or whose owners cannot take care of them anymore?  Would they be abandoned to suffer or potentially harm someone?  While limited admission groups work hard to solve the problem of pet overpopulation and help many homeless pet find homes, they simply cannot solve the problem alone.  Open access shelters, like the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, help to ensure that every unwanted pet is treated humanely. 

Because we are an open access shelter, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter receives over 4,000 animals every year.  We work hand-in-hand with rescue groups in the region to help place many pets in addition to the thousands of pets we adopt from the Shelter.  Through the tireless work of our staff and volunteers, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter saves thousands of lives every year. 

A friend or family member may be willing to help.  Please contact trusted family members or friends who may be able to care for your pet on a temporary or long-term basis.  When someone surrenders a pet to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, it becomes the property of the County and the owner relinquishes all rights.  Every animal that is surrendered to the Shelter will have a medical and behavioral assessment.  Since the decision to surrender an animal is final – we urge anyone who is considering surrendering their pet to consider all possible alternatives.     

  • Pet Food Assistance: The Fairfax County Animal Shelter works with several other agencies to provide assistance to families and individuals facing financial hardship who cannot afford to buy food for their pet(s).  If you would like to request food assistance, please e-mail or call the Shelter or come to the Shelter during open hours to fill out a request form.  The Fairfax County Animal Shelter also partners with the Humane Society of Fairfax County’s ‘Ani-Meals’ program, a food pantry that provides food and supplies.


  • Dealing with Behavior Problems: If you are having behavior problems and need information or resources, please contact the Fairfax County Animal Shelter’s Pet Resource Specialists at or call 703-324-0231.  Your phone call or e-mail will be returned within approximately two days. 


  • Spay/Neuter: Many health and behavior problems can be resolved simply by spaying or neutering your pet.  Please contact the Shelter for information about many low-cost spay and neuter options.


  • Moving/Rental Issues: Many websites exist to help renters find pet-friendly housing.  Simply search for, ‘pet-friendly housing’ and your town or area or contact the Shelter for a list of pet-friendly housing options. 


  • DO NOT: Set your pet free in a park or neighborhood, leave a pet in your home when you move away, or give your pet to a stranger.




At the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, we understand that it is sometimes necessary to give up a pet.  We take the well-being of all surrendered pets very seriously and our team of dedicated animal caretakers and adoption specialists provide compassionate care when animals come into the Shelter. 


You can surrender your pet during open hours.  When you surrender your pet, you will be interviewed by a staff person regarding the health and behavior history of your pet.  A staff person will perform a behavioral assessment on your pet.  This will help us gather information necessary to determine if your pet will be a candidate for adoption at the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.  As an open-access shelter, we will accept any animal that comes through our doors but will not adopt out dangerous animals as public safety is one of our top priorities.


You will be required to sign a release form giving legal ownership to Fairfax County and you will be asked to fill out a personality profile about your pet.  Please bring your pet’s medical records at the time of surrender and any other relevant documents or records. 

Contact Fairfax County: Phone, Email or Twitter | Main Address: 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax, VA 22035
Technical Questions: Web Administrator

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