The Fairfax County Animal Shelter is an open access animal shelter, meaning that we accept owner-surrendered dogs, cats, and other companion animals in need, regardless of age, health, or behavior, from residents of Fairfax County. We take in owner-surrendered pets by appointment; this helps us serve our community best, by keeping the population in the shelter at humane levels. It helps shelter staff by allowing us to prepare in advance, and ensures that we have an open kennel available for an incoming pet. It also allows pet owners to prepare, by gathering medical documents and thinking through the surrender decision completely before actually bringing their pet in. We understand that there will be emergency situations that require exceptions to be made.
We currently have a very high population of dogs, due to a higher-than-usual number of surrender requests combined with a lower-than-usual number of adoptions. This is occurring in shelters across the country right now. If you can delay surrendering your dog, or if you are able to rehome your dog to a new family on your own, please do so!
Before making an appointment for you to surrender your pet, we will ask:
- How can we help you keep your pet?
- Our goal is to help keep pets with their families, if at all possible! If you're looking for resources to help you keep your pet, please visit our Pet Resource Center, which contains an organized list of spay/neuter, vaccination clinic, and financial assistance options that may help.
- If you need dog or cat food during this tough time, please let us know! We have a supply of pet food and oftentimes other supplies, for the sole purpose of helping people keep their pets - instead of surrendering.
- Have you tried rehoming your pet on your own?
- This is beneficial because you know your pet best, and you know what type of new home they would do best in, and it allows you to be part of the process of finding a new family for your pet. Plus, your pet will not need to enter the Shelter, which is helpful as we work to maintain a humane capacity within the Shelter.
- For help rehoming your pet on your own, visit Adopt-a-Pet (it's only for dogs and cats at this time): www.rehome.adoptapet.com/r/102770
- Did you originally adopt your pet from another shelter or rescue organization?
- If yes, please contact that shelter or rescue organization to return the pet there. Responsible rescue organizations and other shelters usually require that any pet adopted from their organization be returned to them and will take the pet back, if the owner can no longer keep them. Please give the shelter or rescue at least a few days to respond – they’re busy, too!
- If you have exhausted all options and find that you still need to surrender your pet to our Shelter, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment.
- We are receiving more surrender requests than usual, and we schedule appointments based on the order residents contact us and based on capacity for any given species within the Shelter.
- Please be patient. You will hear from Shelter staff within 48 hours to start the surrender process.
- If you have already emailed, you do not need to call to request an appointment; if you emailed an appointment request, we will respond, and if you’ve received a response via email you do not need to call. This will not speed up the process and may delay our response to you.
- Email is the preferred method for communicating a need to surrender your pet: email@example.com
How to prepare for your surrender appointment:
We understand that it is sometimes necessary to give up a pet, and we take the well-being of all pets very seriously. Our dedicated staff provide compassionate care for all animals who come into the shelter, and you can help us get to know your pet by telling us all about them! We’ll have a profile for you to fill out, that will help our staff and volunteers get to know your pet better. We will also need your pet’s medical records, preferably in electronic format, as well as any other relevant documents or records, and will ask for that information when we make your surrender appointment.
You will be required to sign a release form giving legal ownership to Fairfax County. Please keep in mind that surrendering a pet to the shelter is final, and if there’s anyone else who might have a claim to ownership, please contact them prior to surrendering to us – signing that form is final!
Thinking of surrendering a pet and want to learn more about your options, get some help with resources to keep your pet, learn how to rehome your pet on your own, or schedule an appointment to surrender to the shelter? Contact us via email at: