Animal Shelter

Fairfax County, Virginia

CONTACT INFORMATION: Building closed; services by advance appointment only; staff on site 9am-5pm daily.

4500 West Ox Road
Fairfax, VA 22030

Karen Diviney, Ph.D.,

Surrendering Your Pet

During the COVID-19 pandemic: if you are able to delay surrendering a pet at this time, please do. We are accepting owner-surrendered pets from Fairfax County residents, by appointment.


Our 'Surrender by Appointment' program has been operational for almost two years, and is proving very successful! We are 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. Taking owner-surrendered pets in by appointment helps us serve our community even better! 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.

You may hear us ask, ‘How can we help you keep your pet?’ when you call for your appointment. Why is that? Because it’s our goal 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 limited supply for the sole purpose of helping people keep their pets (instead of surrendering!).

You may also try to rehome your pet on your own! That allows you to be part of the process of finding a new family for your pet. For help rehoming your pet on your own, visit Adopt-a-Pet:

If you originally got your animal from another rescue organization, please contact that rescue organization first. Most responsible rescue organizations require that any animal adopted from them be returned to them and will take the pet back, if the owner can no longer keep the animal. Please also give the rescue at least a few days to respond – they’re busy and usually volunteer-run!

If you are a Fairfax County resident and need to surrender your pet to our shelter, please call us at 703-830-1100 or email us at to schedule an appointment.


What to expect when it's time 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. Please make sure to provide your pet’s medical records, as well as any other relevant documents or records, when it’s time for 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!


Found a stray pet?

We accept stray dogs who are found within Fairfax County with no appointment necessary. We accept stray cats who are found within Fairfax County only if they are sick or injured and in need of medical care, or if they are declawed, or have a microchip or collar, again without an appointment necessary. We accept other stray small companion animals (rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, birds, other small animals and non-native pet reptiles) who are found as strays, also without an appointment. We only accept stray animals who were found within Fairfax County, so if you have found an animal in another jurisdiction please contact that county's shelter directly.

Free-roaming (feral or friendlier stray) adult community cats should be left where they are, and not brought to any shelter or rescue. For more information on our cat intake policies, visit our Cat Intake Guidelines information page. Please email us at for more information on our (free!) Trap, Neuter, Return program, to get community cats in your neighborhood spayed/neutered and vaccinated.


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 at 703-830-1100, or by email at!


Wondering what to do with that cat you've seen outside? What about kittens?

Fairfax Virtual Assistant