The rise of backyard chickens in Northern Virginia has sparked a heated policy debate in Arlington, but it has also led to an increase in abandoned chickens showing up at shelters.
In 2011, Prince William County approved a measure that allowed raising birds on some residential properties. Since then, the number of chickens that the Prince William County Animal Shelter has taken in has risen.
In 2011, the shelter — which also accepts chickens from Arlington, since the Animal Welfare League of Arlington does not house poultry — saw 23 chickens. After Prince William passed its new ordinance, the number of chickens at the PWCAS jumped to 33 in 2012 and 29 already in 2013.
According to Laurie Thompson, an administrator with the PWCAS, the first 16 chickens the shelter took in this year were strays, a number she noted was both unusual and likely attributable to abandoned chickens.
“If somebody knows how to handle a chicken and they keep their numbers down low and don’t have roosters that are going to crow, then it’s probably okay having one or two hens for eggs,” Thompson told ARLnow.com. “But sometimes, people can get excessive with these things, keep bringing them in, and then it becomes a health hazard with chicken feces. It’s not really good for an urban area to have all those feces to deal with, because those can bring in rats.”
Arlington residents are allowed to raise poultry in an enclosure 100 feet or more from property lines, but a debate has grown in the past year around reducing the limit. Last month a majority of the county’s Urban Agriculture Task Force, created in 2012, recommended reducing the enclosure limit to 20 feet from a property line, but allowing no more than four hens, no roosters and requiring permission from neighbors.
The recommendation is being considered by county staff, which will then make its own recommendation to the County Board. The Board is not expected to take action on the subject until the fall.
Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Kerry McKeel said the organization participated in a discussion about backyard chickens with the task force, but hasn’t otherwise offered any opinions about the implications of additional urban hen raising.
“At this point a decision has not been reached on how the ordinance will be changed, so at this time AWLA does not have a position on the issue,” she said. In the past year, McKeel said the AWLA has picked up four roaming chickens and sent them either to Prince William or farm sanctuaries in rural Virginia or Maryland.
County’s Debt Upgraded to ‘Stable’ — Moody’s Investors Service has upgraded the outlook on Arlington County’s debt from “negative” to “stable.” The county’s otherwise triple-A bond rating was downgraded in 2011 due to Arlington’s “lose economic, financial and capital markets linkages to the federal government.” The upgrade reflects the federal government’s improved debt outlook. [Arlington County]
Vandalism at Powhatan Springs Park — The skate park at Powhatan Springs Park was closed Friday and Saturday due to graffiti. The graffiti was “nothing serious,” said Department of Parks and Recreation spokeswoman Susan Kalish, but the park was closed while county crews removed it.
Dangerous Heat Prompts AWLA Rescues — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has shared photos of four dogs it rescued in the recent heatwave. Among them are dogs left in hot cars, tied up in a parking lot and in cages in a backyard without adequate water. [Washington Post]
Flickr pool photo by Ddimick
A wild animal, believed by some to be a coyote, is causing increasing concern among Cherrydale residents.
The concern stems from Cherrydale resident Jay Stapf’s sighting of what he says were three decapitated fox heads on his back lawn this May. When Stapf went to retrieve his puppy, Stella, from the backyard, he was greeted by the sight of the severed heads.
“It was creepy, almost like when you bury someone in sand at the beach,” Stapf wrote in a report of the incident.
For the second time that month, Stapf called the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, who showed up to assist.
AWLA determined that a human didn’t sever the fox heads. They also suggested that Stapf install a motion sensor camera in his backyard in order to get further clues about the incident. However, Stapf says AWLA never followed up to confirm that a coyote was involved.
“We don’t know for certain [what they were] because they never came out and trapped them,” said Stapf.
AWLA Chief of Animal Control Alice Burton said that most of the time when people report coyote sightings to her, they turn out to be foxes, but this was a case that had her puzzled.
“It’s funny because I’ve reached out to professional naturalists on this and no one has a clue,” said Burton.
“Usually when we find decapitated animals, it’s kind of unusual. Heads are actually the first thing that animals eat,” said Alonso Abugattas, The Department of Parks and Recreations’s natural resources manager and one of the people Burton consulted with.
Sheila Dougherty, who walks Stella, had another neighbor who also reported a coyote sighting, so she decided to check with other residents on the Cherrydale email listserv.
“I think it’s good for everyone to know that there are coyotes in Arlington so that they can make informed decisions about whether to leave their dogs and cats out at night,” Dougherty said.
Eleven other members in the community wrote in with evidence of coyote sightings, with three others seeing a coyote as recently as this past spring.
Some of the sightings were indirect like Stapf’s. One neighbor reported seeing half a bunny in her backyard and the other indirectly reported a pet cat found dead through violent means.
The Fourth of July — traditionally filled with fireworks exploding and open flames for barbecues — can be dangerous for pets, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington warns. All sorts of hazards can cause dogs and other critters harm or cause them to run away.
“Dogs have acute hearing — far more sensitive than human hearing — so firework explosions, excited voices, visual stimulation and smells can panic dogs causing them to be fearful, which can activate their fight or flight response,” Alice Burton, Chief Animal Control Officer for the AWLA, said in a press release. “For their own safety this holiday, indoor-outdoor cats should be kept indoors and when outside, dogs should be kept on a leash.”
The AWLA offers some tips to make sure the household pets have a safe holiday.
- Leave them at home inside. Fireworks, crowds and fanfare can be stressful for pets, causing them to panic or run off. Leave them in a safe area with a television or radio playing to mask frightening sounds.
- Alcoholic drinks poison pets. If ingested, the animal could become dangerously intoxicated, go into a coma or in severe cases, die from respiratory failure.
- Do not apply sunscreen or insect repellent that is not specifically indicated for animals. Ingestion can cause drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, excessive thirst and lethargy. Deet, a common insecticide, may cause neurological issues.
- Keep lighter fluid and matches away from pets. Chlorates, a chemical substance found in some matches, if ingested, can cause difficulty breathing, damage blood cells or even cause kidney disease. Lighter fluid can cause skin irritation, respiratory and gastric problems.
- Citronella and insect coils harm pets. Insect repellants are irritating toxins to pets. Inhalation can cause severe respiratory illness such as pneumonia, which can harm a pet’s nervous system.
- Resist feeding table food. A change in diet can give a pet severe indigestion and diarrhea. Foods such as onions, chocolate, coffee, avocado, grapes, raisins, salt and yeast dough can all be potentially toxic to companion animals.
- Keep pets away from glow jewelry. While the luminescent substance contained in these products is not highly toxic, excessive drooling, gastrointestinal irritation and intestinal blockage could occur from swallowing the pieces of plastic.
- Never use fireworks around pets. While exposure to lit fireworks can potentially result in severe burns and/or trauma to the face and paws of curious pets, even unused fireworks can pose a danger. Many types contain potentially toxic substances, including potassium nitrate, arsenic and other heavy metals.
Flickr pool photo by ameschen
Firefly Festival on Sunday — All attention will be on the critters that light up the night at the 5th Annual Firefly Festival at Fort C.F. Smith Park (2411 24th Street N.) this Sunday, June 30. Activities include bug hunts, games, crafts, walks and talks about fireflies. There is a $7 charge per participant and children two and under are free. Attendees can bring a picnic to enjoy while waiting for the events at sundown. [Arlington County Dept. of Parks and Recreation]
Ducklings Rescued — Earlier this month, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington got some help from the Arlington County Fire Department with an animal rescue mission. Together they removed five ducklings that had become stuck in a storm drain. [Washington Post]
Tejada Re-elected to Position on National Association of Regional Councils — Arlington County Board Chair Walter Tejada has been re-elected as the Board of Directors Region III Director on the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC). NARC advocates for regional cooperation as a means of effectively addressing community planning opportunities and issues. It represents more than 230 regional councils and planning organizations across the country. Tejada has served in the position since 2011.
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.
Earth Day apparently isn’t just for humans. The animals at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 Arlington Mill Drive) in Shirlington will be getting a special treat in recognition of the day.
Girl Scout Troop 1251 from Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church has been helping to construct a “small companion animal garden” at the shelter. Animals at the shelter including rabbits, guinea pigs and birds will soon be able to munch on the fresh, organic produce that will be grown in the garden.
The scouts will put the final touches on the garden on Monday, which is Earth Day. At that time, they will finish planting the produce such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, parsley and carrots.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is warning that people and pets might have been exposed to a rabid animal in Glencarlyn Park.
Two dogs were seen fighting with a rabid raccoon in the park this past weekend, the AWLA said in a press release. The organization is seeking anyone and anything who might have come in contact with the raccoon.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is seeking information about anyone who may have had contact with a raccoon in Glen Carlyn Park on Saturday, March 9, 2013. A witness saw two dogs fighting in the water with a raccoon in the off-leash dog area. Animal Control located the raccoon later that day and humanely euthanized it. The raccoon has tested positive for rabies. Any people or pets that may have had contact with the raccoon should call Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is touting the benefits of adopting a rescue animal as a pet.
The Shirlington-based organization, in a press release (below), said shelter pets can help you achieve your New Year’s resolutions.
Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) encourages you to make pets a part of your New Year’s resolution plan. Resolving to adopt a shelter pet will not only improve the quality of life for that animal, but will also enhance your own. A new pet can help you achieve many of the following most popular resolutions made each year.
- Lose Weight, Get Healthy: According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, pets can reduce blood pressure, cholesterol levels, triglyceride levels and feelings of loneliness. Nearly 13.6 percent of Arlingtonians are obese, compared to the 24 percent national average. Adopting a dog as a workout partner can provide that needed motivation for daily exercise. Taking your dog for a daily 30-minute walk (or two 15-minute walks, one in the morning and one in the evening) will keep you moving and ensure that you meet the minimum recommendations for healthy physical activity. There are many dogs at the League waiting for a new human companion who wants to walk, jog, or run every day.
- Reduce Stress: There is no better stress reducer than the companionship of a devoted pet. Stroking a cat, dog, or small companion animal is a calming activity, which can lower heart rate and blood pressure. Research has indicated that when people spend time with a pet their levels of cortisol, a hormone associated with stress, is lowered while their level of serotonin, a hormone associated with improved mood and well-being, is increased.
- Spend More Time with Friends and Family: Pets are an excellent way to bring families together, and dog walking is a great way to meet new people. Humans are social animals and need to interact with others. Pet owners have a tendency to want to share time and experiences with other pet owners. Walking your dog or visiting a dog park lets you socialize with other owners while your dog socializes with their dogs.
- Help Others: People can experience a big boost in their own mood from doing something good for others. By adopting an animal you will not only be helping, you will be rescuing a life. Most pet owners report that they actually benefit more from the relationship than their pet. Resolving to adopt from or volunteer with AWLA will not only provide you with an intrinsic reward, but also the satisfaction of enriching the lives of animals.
- Enjoy Life More: Having a pet can really make a difference in your daily quality of life. While the bond between pets and their people can be described in many ways, the bond at its root is an unconditional and uncomplicated love. Pets are not only a devoted source of comfort and loyalty, but can also provide a sense of safety and security. Caring for a pet can lead to a richer, fuller, and more meaningful life.
This year make a New Year’s resolution to enrich your life by rescuing a shelter animal. To learn more about AWLA’s diverse selection of companion animals including cats, dogs, rabbits, birds, and hamsters, download Arlington Pets App; visit the League at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive or www.awla.org .
Va. to Consider Tougher Texting Laws — In January, state lawmakers will consider bills that would stiffen the penalties for texting while driving in Virginia. Currently, texting while driving is a secondary offense — you can only be charged with it if pulled over for another violation — and the penalty is a $20 fine for the first offense and $50 for subsequent offenses. Del. Scott Surovell (D-Mt. Vernon) wants drivers to be charged with reckless driving if they get in an accident while texting. [Lynchburg News & Advance, Daily Press, WTOP]
Road Closures for ‘Jingle Bell Run’ — Parts of S. Joyce Street and Army Navy Drive in Pentagon City will be closed from 7:00 to 11:00 a.m. Saturday morning for the Jingle Bell Run/Walk for Arthritis. Race attendees are encouraged to take Metro. [Arlington County Police]
Hynes Lauds Animal Welfare Efforts — Arlington County Board Chair Mary Hynes has issued a proclamation praising the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and The Humane Society of the United States “for working together to improve the treatment of animals, including farm animals in the food industry.” [Humane Society]
PG Lawmaker Called ‘Too Arlington’ — Prince George’s County Council member Eric Olson, a progressive Democrat and noted environmentalist, recently lost his bid to become chairman of the Council. One lawyer who represents developers in Prince George’s County said of Olson: “Some people think he is too ‘Arlington.’” [Washington Post]
More on the Arlington Goat Prank – The Navy has confirmed that Bill the Goat, the U.S. Naval Academy mascot, was the goat that was found tied up in a median at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and S. Eads Street, near the Pentagon, this past weekend. The goat was “recovered Saturday morning in good condition.” The Army-Navy football game is Dec. 8 and a Navy spokeswoman noted: “Bill the Goat has been a part of our 10-game winning streak against Army, so we are glad to have him back before the big game next week.” [Navy Times]
Arlington GOP Counts Accomplishments — Even though Republican candidates did not win a single race in Arlington, members of the Arlington County Republican Committee are tallying some small victories. “We kept Arlington moving toward more common-sense policies,” said Matt Wavro, this year’s GOP County Board candidate. [Sun Gazette]
‘Shark Tank’ Charity Pitch Event — Twenty entrepreneurs from around Virginia will have a chance to pitch their business startup ideas to panel of business leaders and investors in Arlington this morning. The Shark Tank-like pitch competition will help raise money for charity. The event is taking place at the Ballston offices of Arlington Economic Development, but tickets are no longer available. [Eventbrite]
A caller informed AWLA that a goat was tied up on a median at the intersection of S. Eads Street and Army Navy Drive. The goat was still there when AWLA representatives arrived on the scene. Workers rescued the goat and took it to the AWLA shelter in Shirlington.
Shortly after the animal was picked up, the owner called and retrieved the goat from the shelter. Although AWLA does not disclose information about the owners of reclaimed animals, it notes the goat was a college mascot.
No charges have been brought forth because it’s unclear exactly who left the goat tied up on the median.
Tom and Jo Straub have prided themselves on their elaborate Christmas light display for years. Only recently have they started using it to raise money for a good cause.
The couple has transformed the front yard of their Leeway Overlee area house, located at 5612 24th Street N., into a “dancing” light show synchronized to 15 of their favorite Christmas songs.
The display contains some 10,000 LED lights, which blink and “dance” with the music. The tunes can be heard from speakers outside the house and via a low-power radio station they set up for people who’d rather stay in their cars with the windows up. The station can be found at 98.1 on the FM dial.
The lights have been on display since Thanksgiving night and will be on every night through New Years Day. The show runs from 6:00 to 10:00 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 6:00 to 11:00 p.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. Santa Claus (as played by Mr. Straub) is on hand from 6:00 to 8:00 on most nights.
Not only are the lights fun to watch, but they’re also helping to raise money for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. A small mailbox near the street collects cash donations for the AWLA, as well as donations of pet food, pet beds, toys and other pet supplies. Once a donation is made, the donor can reward themselves by hitting a button near the mailbox for a small bonus light show.
Last year was the couple’s first year collecting for the AWLA. Tom Straub said they collected $1,100 for the organization, and hopes to raise even more this year.
Straub said the display requires about 2,000 feet of extension cords and takes all year to plan. He said the outdoor speakers turn off at 8:00 and he hasn’t heard any serious complaints from neighbors this year. He has, however, received a complaint about his Santa-like beard, which he started growing in June 2011.
“The wife is fed up with it, so it’s coming off on the 24th,” he said.
The AWLA says the 4-6 week old Boxer puppy was found yesterday, Sept. 27, on the 400 block of N. Oakland Street, in the Ashton Heights neighborhood. The puppy was “very sick and severely injured,” the organization said.
Citing an ongoing investigation, AWLA Chief Operating Officer Susan Sherman declined to release details about the nature of the puppy’s injuries.
Anyone with information about the puppy is asked to call Animal Control at 703-931-9241.
File photo of three-month-old Boxer puppy by Almcwilliams via Wikipedia