The Animal Shelter Paw-Cast: Nov. 13, 2013



This is Jim Person, and I’m Kristen Auerbach, and we’d like to welcome you to the “Fairfax County Pawcast,” a podcast featuring news, stories and events from the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. 



On this edition of the Pawcast, we’ll discuss tips to keep your pets safe in winter and we’ll tell you about some things that might surprise you if you visit the shelter this holiday season.  We’ll also talk about upcoming adoption promotions and special events you won’t want to miss. 




JP: It’s really cooling down outside.  What are some things our listeners should know about keeping their pets safe during the cold winter months?


KA: Dogs and cats are not immune to cold weather. If it is cold for you, it is cold for them! As the winter months approach, don’t forget to keep your pet safe. All pets need appropriate protection against the cold weather.  Dogs are healthier and happier indoors than out, but if you plan to leave your dog outside for any length of time, make sure that he or she has access to a shelter that is raised off the ground and will protect the dog from wind. 


If there are feral or stray cats in your neighborhood, make sure they have access to shelter and plenty of water.  For all pets, make sure that water dishes do not freeze. 


While outside, keep your pet close to you to avoid encountering antifreeze, a sweet but deadly poison that may be accessible on roads and in garages or driveways.


Salt and other snow-melting chemicals can be tough on your pet’s pads.  Check frequently to make sure that your pet’s pads are not cracking or bleeding. 


Also, you’ll want to create a pet disaster supply kit similar to the one you prepare for yourself in case of emergencies. Your pet preparedness kit should include:

  • Food and water for at least five days for each pet;

  • Sturdy leashes, harnesses and carriers; and

  • Current identification, medications and medical records.


Every year, we remind people to take extra precautions during colder months to make sure their four-legged family members stay safe and warm!  The best tip of all is to keep your pets with you.  Pets love human companionship and should be kept indoors. 


JP: The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is definitely not your stereotypical animal shelter.  Tell us about some of the surprising things we might find if we visited the shelter today.

KA: If you visited today, the first thing that might surprise you is that we have many different types of animals.  Visitors walk in expecting to see dogs and cats, and they have no idea that we have many other pets to choose from, including rabbits, ferrets, guinea pigs, hamsters, small reptiles, and even rats!  Right now, we have about 30 small critters to choose from.  One of the things you’ll often hear us say is “if you can find it at a pet store, you can probably adopt it from us.”  And when you adopt from us, you get a pet that is well-socialized and used to being handled so it’s a great option for families with kids.


Another thing that surprises our guests is that, during certain times of the day, all of our adoption dog kennels are empty.  That’s because our available dogs are outside playing in groups in our play yards.   If you visit during playgroup time, a staff member or volunteer will invite you to come out and join in the fun.  Often times, people adopt dogs right out of their play groups!  Play groups give us a good chance to see how our dogs get along with other dogs and it gives us an accurate assessment of their overall temperament, so we can better predict how they’ll behave outside of an animal shelter.


Finally, most of our visitors are surprised at just how clean the shelter is!  We have a new facility, a state-of-the-art air system, and a great staff who make sure that everything is spick and span.  Even our visitors who have allergies remark that they have no problem walking through all of our adoption areas.  As for our pets?  They get groomed and bathed regularly by our volunteers so that they are clean and ready for their new homes.


JP: (If there is extra time, you could ask about volunteers…say something like, “when I was there recently, I noticed that there were a lot of volunteers doing various things around the shelter…..can you tell us a little bit about how volunteers help?” 


JP: I understand there are some upcoming adoption promotions that our listeners should know about.  Can you tell us about those?


KA: Sure!  While most County agencies are closed on black Friday, which falls on November 29, the shelter will be open from 10am – 5pm for adoptions.  And in the spirit of the day, we’ll be featuring fee-waived adoptions on all black and mostly-black animals.  So when you’re ready for a break from shopping, stop by the shelter for a visit!


Also, from November 15 – December 31, we’ll be holding a promotion called “Home for the Holidays”.  Our goal is to find homes for all of our shelter pets during the holiday season.  Adoption fees will be half-off for all pets over three and we’ll be giving every adopter a gift bag, full of goodies for their new pet.  These gift bags are being sponsored by the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.  Giving gifts is our way to thank our community of adopters for choosing our shelter for their new family member. 



Well that’s going to do it for this edition of “The Animal Shelter Pawcast.” Thanks for listening and remember:  the next time your family is in the market for a dog, cat, rabbit, guinea pig or other small pet, come to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, where your new best friend is waiting. The shelter is located at 4500 West Ox Road in Fairfax and is open Tuesdays through Fridays from noon to 7 p.m. and on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


For more Fairfax County Animal Shelter news and events, visit us online at and be sure to check out the calendar of events located on the site. You may also call 703-830-1100, extension 2, or email, to have all of your questions answered.  


“The Animal Shelter Pawcast” is produced by the Fairfax County, Va., Government.

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