Frequently Asked Questions





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

Dogs: $40.00
Cats: $30.00
Rabbits: $15.00
Ferrets: $15.00
Reptiles: $10.00
Small birds: $10.00
Large birds: $100.00
Equine and bovine: $200.00
Other small animals: $5.00
Other livestock: $20.00 

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

Yes.  By state law, all dogs and cats adopted from the shelter must be spayed or neutered.  Many of the pets are spayed and neutered before being put up for adoption.  If the pet is not already spayed or neutered, you will pick up your new pet from the vet and pay them directly.  The cost is $170 for dogs and $100 for cats.  

Will the animal I adopt be current on its vaccinations?

Yes.  The pet will have all necessary 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.  

Do you have any puppies or kittens?

We have lots of dogs and cats at all ages. Stop by the shelter to meet all of the adoptable pets, including puppies and kittens.  You can see a complete list of all of our adoptable animals online at   The website is updated hourly, so you will always know what pets are available.  Pets are adopted on a first-come, first-serve basis and pets will not be held.  

Can I visit with an animal?

Yes, once you meet an animal with which you’d like to visit, go to the front desk and fill out a visitor pass.  You will be assisted by a staff member or volunteer and will get to interact with the animal in a visitation room or outdoors.  

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

Pets available for adoption can be viewed online at   Petharbor is updated hourly, so you will always know what animals are available for adoption.  


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. 

Does the Shelter accept stray cats?

During the ‘kitten season’ which typically runs between May and October, the Shelter does not accept healthy stray 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 strays during this time of the year, 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 or in danger, the Shelter will accept it.  

How does the Shelter obtain the cats it adopts out to citizens?  If cat owners are no longer able to keep their cat for any reason, including change in family circumstances, moving, or allergies, they can surrender the cat to the Shelter, where it will be evaluated by the staff for adoption.  Cats may be adopted from the Shelter or transferred to a rescue. 

How many cats can stay at the Shelter? 

Currently, the Shelter has enclosures to hold approximately 55 cats.  Once construction is complete, there will be 40 holding enclosures and 40 ‘cat condos’ for the adoptable cats.  

Is a feral cat different than a stray cat? 

A friendly stray cat is a cat that has been socialized by people at some point in its life and is able to be approached and handled.  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 unlikely to be able to be socialized to become house pets – most are very fearful of humans, but might make good barn cats on a farm.

Some of the free roaming cats in a community are “community cats” who are 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, we believe the best place for a cat is in someone’s home receiving regular veterinarian care, protected from threats from predators, automobiles and the elements.

How is the Fairfax County Animal Shelter helping cats in our community?

The Fairfax County Animal Shelter runs a program called Trap-Neuter-Return.  Participants in this program work with the Shelter to spay and neuter feral cats and provide basic medical care before returning them to their home territory where they can live out their lives without adding to the cat overpopulation problem.  

If there are unwanted stray 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 Control does not trap stray cats that have ventured onto private property.  From approximately May through October, healthy stray cats will not be accepted at the Shelter.  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 eartipped (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 released to live out their lives without reproducing and contributing to the cat overpopulation problem.  Contact the Shelter to learn more about the TRN program and how you can participate.  

How can Fairfax County residents help cats in our community? 

Prevention is the best solution to pet overpopulation.  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, contact the Shelter at 703-830-1100 or visit the website at  


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 Control 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 or the Wildlife Rescue League at 703-440-0800. Animal control 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. 

What is the number for Animal Control?

To contact Animal Control, call the police non-emergency number at 703-691-2131. 

Can I rent traps to catch wildlife? 

The shelter does not rent out traps for catching wildlife.  


When is the next low-cost rabies vaccination clinic?

Rabies clinics are offered on Sundays throughout the year. The cost is $12 per vaccine. For a list of dates, please refer to the flyer in the front office. Please note that county dog licenses are also sold at the clinics for $10.  

Where can I get my pet spayed or neutered at a low cost?

You should contact the Potomac Spay and Neuter Clinic, located in Manassas, Virginia to find out about getting your pet spayed or neutered at a reduced cost.  Their telephone number is 571-208-0199 and their address is 9975 Pennsylvania Ave. Manassas, VA 20110. 

Where can I get low-cost veterinary care and vaccines?

No, The shelter does not offer veterinary services of this type. Low-cost pet vaccination services are provided by LuvMyPet.  Their website is  The MetroPets Online Yellow Pages also include links to other low-cost area veterinary care. The MetroPets website is  The Humane Society of Fairfax County can sometimes help low income families with emergency veterinary expenses. 

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

Do you have a vet you could recommend?

Fairfax County has many wonderful vets. The Fairfax County Animal Shelter currently contracts with Deepwood Veterinary practice in Centreville, Virginia.  Their contact number is 703-631-9133 and their website is   If you adopt from the Shelter, we can provide you a list of vets that you can go to for a free follow-up examination within seven days of adoption. 


What are the shelter’s hours?

The shelter is open from Noon to 7 P.M., Tuesday through Friday and from 10 A.M. to 5 P.M. on Saturday. Please note that adoption hours are Noon to 6:30 P.M., Tuesday through Friday and from 10 A.M. to 4:30 P.M. on Saturday. The shelter is closed Sundays, Mondays, and 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. 

Is this a “no kill” animal shelter? 

Fairfax County Animal Shelter is Fairfax County’s only publicly-funded, open access, municipal shelter.  We accept all animals in need, regardless of age, health or temperament.  Any animal that is healthy, treatable, adoptable or rehabilitatable, is placed in an adoptive home, a foster home or is placed with one of our 100 rescue partners.  Animals are not euthanized because of a lack of space and there are no time limits for adoption.  Because we accept all animals, including highly aggressive ones and bite cases, we do euthanize dogs and cats that are vicious or are a threat to public safety.  We are proud to have one of the highest placement rates in the region. 

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 do not accept prescription medications, blankets, 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 the Community Outreach Program Manager at 703-324-0208 to schedule a tour. 


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

Go to Under the “Animal Care & Health” header, select “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 Control can assist when the Shelter is closed.  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 15 days to report their pet lost. 


What animals do you take? What documents are needed?

We take any and all animals. The more information provided the better. Vet records are extremely helpful but not required. We also ask that individuals try rescue organizations first since limited cage space is frequently a challenge for the shelter. 

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

Yes, we do provide this service. There is no charge. Individuals need to provide a valid driver’s license. The shelter does not permit family members to be in the room or to see the pet afterward. If any of these requests is important to the owner, please tell the individual to contact his/her veterinarian.  We are unable to return the pet’s ashes to the owner.  


How can I become a volunteer or foster parent? 

You can go online to the website and print out an application or pick up an application at the Shelter.  Once you have submitted an application, the Shelter will run a basic criminal background check and will look at your interests and availability.  If you are selected, you will be invited to attend a volunteer orientation and training session at the Shelter. 

My daughter is fifteen and would like to donate her time to help the Shelter.  How can she sign up?

Because we are a police and County agency, regular volunteers must undergo a background check and must be over 18 years of age.  Occasionally, the Shelter will have a teenage volunteer help with greeting, donations and small animal enrichment on a Saturday.  This is typically a one-time experience and those interested should contact the volunteer coordinator.  

I applied to volunteer almost four months ago and no one ever contacted me.  What happened? 

The Shelter receives a large number of applications.  Our volunteer coordinator looks at every application and the Shelter admits volunteers on an as-needed basis.  If your availability and interests do not match up to the current Shelter needs, you may not be selected.  

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.  Submitting an application does not guarantee admission to the volunteer program. 

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!  When you apply to be a volunteer, you will list your areas of interest on the application. 

If I agree to foster an animal, do I have to buy the food and supplies or do you provide them?

When you foster a pet for the FCAS, you provide a safe, loving environment for the animal and the Shelter covers all costs including food and medical treatment. 

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 2-3 hours and jobs include grooming, animal socialization, beautification and special projects.  Depending on the time of year and staff schedules, we may not be able to accommodate all groups. 

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