There are currently about 90 children in Arlington in need of the temporary living arrangement foster families provide. These children are unable to live in their homes for a variety of reasons, such as abuse, neglect or severe family problems. Children may need to stay with a foster family for just a few days or months, or for years.
“We know that it takes a special set of skills to parent a child that’s not your own or has been abused or neglected,” said Alissa Green, Arlington County Resource Family Coordinator.
A particular need exists for families with diverse cultural backgrounds.
“The children who are in care, much like Arlington itself, is a very diverse group. But we have a limited number of minority foster parents,” said Green. “We don’t match children with families based on race, but we like to try to match them culturally, if possible.”
Families willing to take in sibling groups and teenagers also are in high demand. More than 50 percent of Arlington’s foster children are age 13 or older.
The goal is to get foster children back with their families as soon as it’s safely possible. However, sometimes that isn’t the best option and the foster children may be adopted. All parents who qualify to foster in Arlington also are qualified to adopt a child, should the occasion arise.
“Our goal is to find a permanent plan for these kids as soon as possible,” said Green.
The fostering information session will be next Saturday (November 8) from 10:00 a.m.-12:00 p.m. at 2100 Washington Blvd. Anyone interested in attending is asked to RSVP by calling 703-228-1550, or by emailing Erica Serrano at firstname.lastname@example.org. Potential foster parents can fill out paperwork at the session, and the next step is to schedule formal training.
Arrow, the cat found that was found in Ballston shot with more than 30 BBs, including at least 20 that remain lodged in his head, was adopted today at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
Bluemont resident Anne Hancock took Arrow — who the shelter estimates is 6 years old — home after an emotional goodbye with AWLA staff. Arrow was brought to AWLA Jan. 18 by someone who found him wandering near Ballston Common Mall.
He came in with an upper respiratory infection and when he was given an X-Ray, veterinarians were shocked to find his body riddled with BBs and buckshot. One eye had to be removed, and he’s blind in his other eye.
Hancock’s daughter and grandson volunteer with AWLA — in fact, her daughter transported Arrow from the shelter to the vet — and they told her about the cat who, despite being horrifically abused, was so friendly and gentle around people.
“He seemed to be a special cat,” Hancock said. “He’s affectionate, sweet and very, very dear.”
Hancock will take him to a home with two other cats — cats that she said have been lonely since her third cat, which was similar in age and color to Arrow, died from cancer a few months ago.
Hancock was one of about 15 who expressed interest in adopting Arrow after ARLnow.com and other news outlets reported on him last month, AWLA Adoptions and Rescue Coordinator Amy Laferrera said. Frequently, animals that have been abused take longer to find homes, but Arrow was quickly in demand.
“We were shocked at how, all of a sudden, there was this huge outpouring of support,” LaFerrera said. “People not only wanted to adopt him but they wanted to donate and help the shelter any way they could.”
Arrow quickly became a favorite around the shelter, coming to humans who called for him or made noises to let him know they were nearby. Hancock picked him up at 2:00 p.m. today, and Arrow spent all morning saying goodbye to the staff at the shelter.
“I’m sad, in a good way, to see him go,” Charnita Fox, an animal care manager whose desk was just a few feet from Arrow’s pen. “I knew he was special when he was brought in because he pretty much let us do anything to him. We didn’t believe he was blind at first because he uses his other senses so well.”
After Hancock signed the adoption paperwork, Arrow was brought to AWLA’s front desk in crate to meet his new owner. He meowed a few times when his crate was closed, but when he was let out he quickly explored the desk he was on. Once Hancock picked him up, he settled peacefully into her arms as he was showered with affection. One AWLA staffer, after snapping a few cell phone photos, excused herself, saying “I’m going to go cry now.”
“He’s a special fella,” Hancock said after meeting him. “I feel like I won the lottery.”
A new documentary that focuses on the efforts of the Lucky Dog Animal Rescue organization will hold its premiere at the Arlington Cinema and Drafthouse (2903 Columbia Pike) later this month.
The Lucky Ones will premiere at 7:30 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26. Tickets are $10 and the proceeds will be donated to Lucky Dog, which is the subject of the film and was involved in its creation, but did not supply funding, according to adoption coordinator Kristy Buechner.
According to Lucky Dog’s website:
The film centers around our vast network of volunteers and partner facilities. It follows the long journey that many homeless animals take to find their forever homes. It begins in the shelters and on the streets and follows the dogs until they find their forever homes. The film is a documentary not just about the animals but also about the tireless efforts of hundreds of volunteers who touch their lives in that journey.
The Lucky Ones was produced by Alexandria-based Creative Liquid Productions and directed by its founder, Ryan Pratzel, a former producer for Rosslyn-based WJLA. It was filmed on location in South Carolina and Puerto Rico, where Lucky Dog helps to rescue dogs from the streets and shelters, and the D.C. area., where the the organization finds homes for the dogs.
Editor’s Note: The Arlington Pet of the Week feature will return next week.
The AWLA shelter is at capacity for cats, the organization said Tuesday afternoon. More than 100 cats and kittens are currently at the shelter or in foster care, and another 100 are “expected to arrive throughout the month.”
To help find homes for the shelter’s burgeoning feline population, AWLA is offering a promotional special for cat adoptions in June.
“We have an urgent need for adopters or fosters,” said AWLA Communications Manager Kerry McKeel via email. “Our adult cat adoption fee is normally $100, but AWLA is offering an adoption incentive throughout June — ‘Three Name Your Fee.’ Folks who adopt cats 3 years old and over not only can name their price, but their adoption fee will also include: a certificate for a free exam with a participating veterinarian, spay or neuter surgery, a feline leukemia and feline AIDS test, a distemper vaccination, a personalized I.D. tag, a microchip, an information packet and an emergency sticker.”
Foster homes are also needed for young kittens.
“Our greatest need right now is for fosters who can help to take care of these kittens for a few weeks until they are old enough to be adopted,” said foster care coordinator Sara Emery. “We have a specific need for fosters for kittens who need to be fed every three to four hours around the clock, so retirees, people who work from home or graduate students are in especially high demand.”
Those wanting to find out how to adopt from AWLA can do so on the group’s website. The organization’s press release, after the jump.
It’s that time of year again — kitten season. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) needs people willing to offer foster care for the young animals.
Because of the possibility the vulnerable animals may contract an illness, AWLA cannot keep kittens under the age of eight weeks in its shelter. Young kittens also cannot regulate their own body heat, eat on their own or go to the bathroom on their own. They must be fed every three to four hours and kept warm. AWLA does not have overnight staff, so it is seeking volunteers who can care for the animals around the clock until they are old enough to be adopted.
AWLA Foster Care Coordinator Sara Emery explained that cats can only go into heat a few times each year and only during warm weather, so March usually brings a spike in births. Kittens typically continue being born and brought to the shelter through November, depending on the weather. Twelve kittens have arrived at the shelter in the last week alone and Emery expects around 60 more throughout the summer.
Anyone can fill out an application to foster a kitten. AWLA staff will then interview candidates and examine the home environment to find a good animal-human fit. There is no cost to the person fostering a kitten; all supplies (including litter boxes and toys) are provided and will be replenished as necessary. The average time commitment is about three to four weeks, but will not be longer than eight weeks.
Those who provide foster care will have the opportunity to adopt the kitten at the end of its stay, or suggest someone who may be able to provide a permanent home.
Anyone interested in becoming a part of the kitten foster program should contact Sara Emery at 703-931-9241, extension 245, or by emailing email@example.com.
On Saturday, 14 local children will celebrate becoming part of “forever families,” during an Arlington ceremony for National Adoption Day.
Nine families will gather at the Arlington County Courthouse tomorrow (November 17) in recognition of their adoptions being finalized this year. All of the children had previously been in foster care.
There are currently about 100 children in foster homes in Arlington, most of them having been removed from their birth parents due to unfit living conditions. Although the goal is to ultimately reunite the children with their birth families once situations improve, that is not always the best option for the safety of the children involved. The children who will not return to their birth families are then cleared for adoption.
Social workers are involved throughout the process to assess the needs of each individual child and to help find a family that is a good match. Nakejah Allen, who is an adoption social worker in Arlington, said it’s a challenge to find the right fit.
“For the kids that are in foster care, there has often been something that has happened to them,” Allen said. “Sometimes it’s just a matter of helping adoptive families to understand the trauma and how that can affect attachment.”
Allen said two other significant challenges include finding homes for children ages 13 and older and finding parents willing to adopt siblings. Melody Smith and her husband, Christian, adopted a brother and sister who had been in foster care in Arlington, and they’ll be celebrating at tomorrow’s Adoption Day ceremony.
“I’m also from a very large family and the thought of them separating siblings breaks my heart,” Melody said. “We started the process thinking about a single child, but after hearing the stats and information, we felt if we could do that we would go that route.”
The Smiths live in Newport News and were placed with the children via an adoption agency and the help of Arlington’s Department of Human Services. For three months, the couple traveled to Arlington three times a week to meet with the children. The kids finally moved in with the Smiths around Christmas last year, and the adoption became official about a month ago.
“We didn’t even tell them [the kids] the day it became official. My wife came crying to me at work because it became official, but as far as they’re concerned, the day they moved in it was official,” Christian said.
Although Melody and Christian’s children had been removed from their birth parents’ home due to severe neglect, the children’s grandmothers had been loving and nurturing. Melody credits one of the grandmothers with keeping alive their daughter, who was only born with one kidney and it wasn’t fully functioning. The family continues to meet with the grandmothers, as well as the foster family with whom the children had been living prior to the Smiths.
A bill that was introduced by Rep. C. Todd Gilbert (R-Shenandoah) and Sen. Jeffrey McWaters (R-Virginia Beach) inserts a “conscience clause” into the Virginia law concerning private adoption and foster care agencies.
“No private child-placing agency shall be required to consider or consent to any placement of a child for foster care or adoption when the proposed placement would conflict with the religious tenets of any sponsor of the agency or other organization or institution with which the child-placing agency is affiliated or associated,” the bill reads. It also says that adoption agencies cannot be held liable for civil damages as a result of denying the placement of a child.
Ebbin says the clause is discriminatory.
“Adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funding should not be allowed to pick prospective parents based on their sexual orientation,” Ebbin said. “Adoption is a public act that goes through state courts, and no government agency should ever engage in discrimination. When placing a child in a permanent home, the only factor we should take into account is what is best for the child.”
Ebbin tried to patron a bill, SB 569, that would have banned discrimination on the basis of “race, religion, national origin, sex, age, family status, disability, sexual orientation or gender identity” among adoption and foster care agencies that receive state funds. The bill failed to make it out of a Senate committee.
The conscience clause bills, meanwhile, are advancing. On Friday Gilbert’s bill passed the House by a vote of 71-28, and McWaters’ bill has passed a Senate committee by a vote of 8-7.
Here’s your chance to give a semi-famous animal a good home. Axel, the kitten rescued from an Arlington County fire truck’s engine compartment last month, is ready to be adopted.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington cleaned him up at their Shirlington shelter following the incident. He’s an orange tabby estimated to be about three months old, and has been neutered and vaccinated.
Axel has been hanging out in a foster home with some other kittens, but is now ready to find a permanent residence. Anyone interested in adopting Axel, or any other kitten, can check out the AWLA website for adoption procedures.
The county is holding its own Arlington Adoption Day to celebrate National Adoption Day and Adoption Awareness Month.
On Saturday morning, 11 children ranging in age from 2 to 16 will be legally adopted at the Arlington County Courthouse. The adoption ceremonies will be presided over by Arlington County Circuit Court Judge James F. Almand, with adoptive parents, adoption advocates and social service represents on hand for the joyous moments.
Last year there were 4,800 adoptions finalized nationwide as part of National Adoption Day.
As first reported by Coryn Julien in the blog The Arlington Connection, summer is a tough time to find homes for kittens and cats. Because of spring’s increase in births, there are too few adopters to take in all of the kittens and cats in shelters.
The SPCA of Northern Virginia has noticed the cat problem as well. The organization’s website lists an urgent need for foster homes for cats and kittens. It says while foster homes are always needed, it “is especially critical for cats during kitten season.”
Right now the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is focusing on adult cats who don’t get adopted because so many people are opting for the newborn kittens during the summer. To help alleviate the problem, the AWLA is offering free adoption of any cat at least two years old during the month of July.
In order to cut down on future cat population booms that lead to homeless animals, the AWLA also recommends spaying and neutering pets.
Panel Recommends Building New Schools — An Arlington Public Schools advisory council has come out with a report that recommends new construction to help ease the looming school capacity crisis. The panel recommends building one or two new elementary schools and adding capacity at two existing middle schools. In addition to the construction, they suggest adding as many as 40 classroom trailers. Questions linger as to whether the county has enough debt capacity to follow the building recommendations. [Sun Gazette]
Adopt-a-Cat Month at AWLA — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 South Arlington Mill Drive) has declared June to be Adopt-a-Cat Month. With the shelter — and other shelters like it – inundated with homeless felines, AWLA is trying to find homes for its “Desperate Housecats” — cats that have been at the shelter more than four months. The adoption of such cats is free through the end of the month. [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]
‘Art Every Day’ at Artisphere — Artisphere (1101 Wilson Blvd) is unveiling two new murals to the public today. The words “Art Every Day” and “Live For Art,” designed by notable local artist Linda Hesh, will appear on two glass panes within Artisphere. The cultural center will also distribute “Art Every Day” decals to visitors, who are then in turn encouraged to photograph the decals in various locales and situations. “Art Every Day” will also appear on food court tabletops at the tourist-laden Pentagon City mall, which should give a boost to Artisphere’s promotional efforts. [TBD]
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington wants you to find some bunny to love this month. February is Adopt-A-Rabbit Month, and the League is trying to find good homes for the 19 rabbits currently residing at the shelter.
Already have a rabbit? The AWLA, located at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive, wants you to get him or her a friend.
See the bunnies currently up for adoption here. An adoption representative can be reached at 703-931-9241 x200. The adoption fee for rabbits is $65, which includes the spay or neuter surgery and an appropriate cage
A press release from the AWLA and a Fox 5 Morning News segment featuring some of the League’s rabbits, after the jump.
Pizza Autentica Adds Ballston Location — Crystal City isn’t the only Arlington neighborhood on the radar for fast-growing local chain Pizza Autentica. WBJ’s Missy Frederick reports that Pizza Autentica has signed a lease at 850 North Randolph Street in Ballston.
Arlington Food Blogger Profiled — The Fairfax Times takes a look at Arlington mom Colleen Levine and her natural food and cooking blog, Foodie Tots. A government affairs consultant by trade, Levine has amassed 2,500 Twitter followers by focusing her blog on kid-friendly, healthy cooking. The recipe for spaghetti caprese — part of Levine’s effort to promote “meatless Mondays” — looks especially appetizing.
Oil Spill Dogs Need an Adoptive Family — Arlington’s Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation is trying to find a home for the last three of 12 dogs brought up from Louisiana after the Gulf oil spill. The shihtzu family — Gizmo, Trixie and Rocky — were given away by their former owner after he lost his job as a fisherman as a result of the spill. The story and photos from Fox 5.
It was a tense eight hours for the Arlington-based Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation on Saturday. A van filled with two dozen dogs and four cats was supposed to be en route from the organization’s ranch in Fauquier County, Va. to an adoption event in Seven Corners, but contact with the driver was lost and the van never showed up.
The foundation reported the van stolen and posted a plea for information about its whereabouts on their Facebook page. After eight hours, the van and its driver, a foundation employee who had been on the job for eight months, were finally located at the Vienna, Va. branch of the Department of Motor Vehicles.
“All the dogs and cats were fine,” foundation vice president Paul Blumberg said. “I think the humans were more distraught than the dogs.”
The van’s air conditioning had been on the entire time, preventing a potentially dangerous situation in the summer heat.
It’s still not clear what exactly happened. The employee said she got lost and her cell phone died, NBC4 reported.
Blumberg said he did not have a chance to talk with the employee, but she seemed upset. Since the animals were fine, and since officers did not suspect that the woman was under the influence of drugs or alcohol, police let her go home.
In the organization’s nine years in existence, nothing like this has ever happened, Blumberg said. He said the foundation’s board will discuss the incident and “see if there are any changes that need to be made.”
One such change may be putting a GPS tracking system in each of the organization’s vehicles, Blumberg said.
Despite the incident, the foundation was able to find homes for 49 dogs and cats this weekend.