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AWLA To Hold 16th Annual Walk for the Animals

by ARLnow.com May 10, 2011 at 2:26 pm 2,570 31 Comments

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is gearing up for its 16th annual Walk for the Animals.

The dog-centric fundraiser will be held this Saturday, May 14th, at Bluemont Park (329 N. Manchester Street). The actual “walk” will start at 9:30 a.m. — participants will have a choice of a three-mile loop walk or a one mile stroll. There will also be entertainment, sponsor booths and demonstrations of doggie feats.

Organizers expect about 500 walkers and 300 dogs to participate this year. Last year’s event raised more than $100,000 for the AWLA and its work with homeless animals.

Registration for the walk is $25 online and includes a free t-shirt and bandana. On-site registration on the day of the event is $40. Organizers ask that participants keep their dogs on a flat leash and leave other pets at home.

  • Shane

    Note that the AWLA doesn’t “require” participants to keep their dogs on a flat leash, but rather they simply “ask” that this be done. This despite the fact they have a contract to, you know, enforce the leash law on public property in Arlington County (including, of course, Bluemont Park).

    This would be a great story for Fox5 News to cover. Numerous owners will keep their dogs off-leash for this event. They know, of course, that the AWLA-employed animal welfare officers don’t “do” leash law enforcement. Fox5 could then ask why AWLA can’t follow through on its contract with the county to enforce the leash law at its own fundraiser. They would then ask whether AWLA’s need to raise funds and maintain a surplus leads it to:

    1. fail to enforce the leash law that by contract it is supposed to enforce, and,
    2. kill off animals that don’t find a home after the first days in its shelter.

    • wilbur

      +1. Cant tell you how many times I have walked in an Arlington park when an off leash dog comes running up and (1) knocks over a small child (2) gets into a fight with an onleash dog (3) goes somewhere it is not suppose to be such as the road or (4) chases a deer or other animal into the road or over a cliff (this happened in Donaldson Run).

      Off leash dogs are a huge problem in Arlington.

      • John Fontain

        “Cant tell you how many times I have walked in an Arlington park when an off leash dog …. (4) chases a deer or other animal into the road or over a cliff (this happened in Donaldson Run).”

        Please do tell. How many times have you witnessed dogs chasing animals over cliffs?

    • Allan

      Clearly you’ve never been to the walk. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

      AWLA isn’t under any kind of sole contract to enforce the leash laws; they are only ONE enforcement arm in the county responsible to enforce the laws.

      Considering the few AWLA animal control officers are so busy running all over the county picking up dead animals, responding to your neighbor with a squirrel in her house, trying to catch a stray pet, and many more duties – finding the occasional idiot who walks their dog off leash is like finding a needle in a haystack.

      As for your stupid comment about killing off animals after the first day in its shelter – again, you don’t know what you’re talking about. They do the best they can with what they have and are continually improving due to the efforts of their fundraising and their many volunteers. You have no idea about the number of people who drop off their pets at the shelter for the sole purpose of having them put down; “Because I don’t want him any more”, or “He bit me, so I want him put to sleep”.

      Instead of throwing around stupid accusations – volunteer at the shelter and make an effort to improve the adoption rate by actually doing something.

    • WoofWoof

      Who peed up your leg? I rarely see any unleahsed dogs at these events.

      The few people who do risk it are generally quickly asked by staff and volunteers to leash the dog and they generally comply.

      I don’t understand your overreaction, it seems to hinge on word choice. And it’s a common word choice too!

  • Shane

    Of course, it is possible that I am misinformed, that in fact AWLA enforces the leash law despite my having never ever witnessed an individual being cited for violating the leash law.

    I would welcome being informed correctly, by seeing statistics showing how many citations are written annually. AWLA Staff, please separate out citations incidental to police breaking up a domestic disturbance in 22204, from citations of people walking dogs off-leash in 22207 and 22205. Thanks.

    • MC 703

      I got a good chuckle out of you going out of your way to give 22204 a little poke. Of course the residents of Cherrydale and Westover never get involved in domestic incidents in Cherrydale or Westover. Get a life.

  • bluemont park user

    I don’t care if a few dogs are off-leash at a dog party.

    • ras


    • Dan


  • Laura

    Actually Shane, by “flat leash” they mean not an extendable leash. It’s a common request at fundraisers that involve dogs. Some of the extendable leashes can extend up to 30 ft., which makes it very difficult to handle a bunch of dogs with a 30ft. leash.

  • Feline’s Basement

    “Dog-centric” is right. I want to bring my cat

    • Dan

      “I want to bring my cat”

      If you are actually fond of your cat, DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT !!

      Send some rescue a nice contribution instead.
      Your cat will thank-you.

  • Frederick

    And what percentage of dogs and cats is AWLA killing these days? While the kill rate has improved, a recent report still places it at 18.7%. That’s too high. That’s too high in a jurisdiction where other dog rescue groups are adopting out numerous dogs each week in Arlington (including older dogs, mutts, and dogs with handicaps). While I am glad to see the improvement, killing so many animals is simply not justified. AWLA needs to do a better job getting these animals adopted.

    • SoCo Resident

      The issue of AWLA “kill” rate came up earlier in an ARLNOW story, and the new director said “not on my watch” so I’d be interested in any supported information about what the current kill numbers were for AWLA – especially since I’m a big supporter.

      It is also easy for folks to sit in their homes and offices and say animals shouldn’t be killed, but it is very difficult to find homes for so many unwanted animals.

      • MC 703

        I have rescued two pit/lab mixes in the last 9 years. Both have been the absolute best dogs I could ever imagine having.

        Adopt a rescue and definitely avoid breeders and pet shops. Rescued mutts will be less prone to genetic disorders and the health problems related to them. And this is just conjecture but I swear they know that you saved em.

        • Vinh An Nguyen

          Agreed. The same with cats. I have one adopted as an adult and he is the sweetest thing ever. I too believe they “know” that they have been saved.

        • It isn’t conjecture. They do know. At least the dogs I have rescued in my life certainly have. There is no doubt in my mind.

      • wilbur

        “It is also easy for folks to sit in their homes and offices and say animals shouldn’t be killed, but it is very difficult to find homes for so many unwanted animals.”

        The problem with that line is that outside of AWLA – tons and tons of dogs and cats are getting adopted in Arlington and NOVA (look at the work of Lost Dog Rescue and other rescue leagues). They take the dogs to where the people are – the petstores – and have adoption events. AWLA hasnt in the past done this. Things are changing – but not enuf.

        And yes, those are AWLA numbers.

        • Allan

          AWLA absolutely has taken dogs off property for adoption events. They have volunteers who take them to The Village at Shirlington during walks for more exposure – and to Dogma Dog Bakery in both N Arlington and S. Arlington.

          They do not take them either PetCo or PetsMart as we don’t have any in Arlington (Unleashed by PetCo just opened).

          They even had two of their more difficult to adopt pair go all the way out to a large fundraising event for a local rescue group.

          They are working with local rescue groups – but you have to remember that they can’t take all the dogs or cats out of the shelter on weekends as it’s the busiest time for people to come there to see them – if they take all the pets off location, then there wouldn’t be any in the shelter for those who go there to see. It’s a Catch-22 that really doesn’t have a good solution.

        • WoofWoof

          Yes, they have and continue to do outreach events.

          You are quite simply wrong.

    • wat

      slightly off topic, but until people stop wanting/buying ‘breeds’, there will always be high kill rates.
      The problem is, there are plenty of good animals out there, but people have to have specific types. Therefore people are out there that profit from breeding those specific breeds, and not all of those produced get bought. So this becomes a two fold issue, breeding when no more animals are required, and people not adopting because they are buying from breeders.

      • wilbur

        Again, the problem is not “breeds.” While in general this is a legitimate concern, numerous mutts are adopted every week in Arlington by groups other than AWLA. The question is – why cant AWLA do a better job getting dogs adopted. Why doesnt AWLA hold adoption days at the pet stores – a successful strategy of many other groups? Why didnt AWLA take advantage of social media – well they do now. Why doesnt AWLA work with the local rescue leagues to ensure that dogs that have stayed too long at AWLA go to no-kill groups, and not get killed. AWLA hasnt dont this – AWLA traditionally has had poor relationships with other rescue groups.

        The problem isnt the breeds. The problem is AWLA.

        • Allan

          See my above comment – they do take dogs off property for adoptions and they do now work with rescue groups.

  • cj

    Thanks to everyone for refraining from riffs about the lack of a catwalk.

  • Joe

    Shane’s comments are utterly despicable. Things are working just fine in Arlington, and we certainly don’t need some news channel missy coming in and spoiling things. The animal welfare officers here understand that they have far more important things to do than cite someone walking their dog in a neighborhood under voice control. They understand that dogs were here LONG before humans. Certainly longer than your 4-year-old monster cowering behind her American Girl doll stroller (LOL)!

    Ask dog owners in the District how THEY like their government’s enforcement of the leash law. In fact, I can tell you how they like it. Three have said that they have directed their animal welfare donations to the AWLA, away from District organizations. They feel AWLA has managed to shunt off the “leash law” crowd by securing the revenue stream that would go to animal control officers, and have focused on the primacy of DOGS in the animal welfare equation.

    Steve Aronson has a really interesting book out on Purdue University press about the politics and issues surrounding animal welfare. He points out that if we in the canine-loving community want to control and subvert the leash law crowd, we are best served by having a local animal welfare nonprofit secure a contract to provide “animal control” services. That contract provides a guaranteed revenue stream to the organization, so that resources can be expended wisely while minimizing if not eliminating any animal “control” hassle. The nonprofit knows full well that as they enforce the law, donations will evaporate. By de-facto sidelining the leash law, the nonprofit can gain steady funds while enhancing promotion of a true animal WELFARE agenda. Whether this is AWLA’s thinking, I have no idea. But I am glad they do things as they do here in Arlington, and don’t take after the District.

    • madisonmanor

      Wow – three whole people – I’m impressed. Despite your lack of facts that “things are working fine in Arlington”, I have firsthand knowledge that they aren’t. The problem isn’t with the dogs, it’s with the OWNERS who think that leash LAWS (not leash ‘hope-they-abides’) don’t apply to them. My wife was knocked to the ground on the W&OD trail by an off-leash dog several months ago despite her request to the owner (an attorney no less) to put the dog on its leash (zip code 22205 to confirm Shane’s observation). The owners were indignant and cared more about their dog than others’ safety. When we called to complain to the county, they basically said that there is nothing they can do from an enforcement perspective and that we were free to call AWLA but unless AWLA witnessed it we were out of luck. So is the solution to prevent my wife from being knocked down again to carry a gun or a club and shoot/beat the dog next time it happens (note I did not say IF it happens)? Yes, that’s a strawman but it makes my point – I’m an animal lover and have rescued from AWLA in the past (and always obeyed the leash law), but AWLA has an obligation to do better.

      • CW

        Late to the party here, but is Joe’s comment just one big piece of sarcasm? It is really, REALLY difficult to tell.

        Madisonmanor – you answered him as if he were being sincere, but I’m not sure he wasn’t kidding. I also agree with your points 100%. I’ve been jumped on and had clothes and bags of groceries slobbered all over by someone’s precious little poop-eater, and then the owner gets all indignant that I don’t greet the thing with kisses. Sadly, it’s going to take someone getting mauled in the middle of Clarendon Boulevard, probably by one of those cute little puppies from the “Pit Crew”, before anyone takes it seriously.

        • madisonmanor

          I thought twice before I replied – the clincher for me was the last line – while I have never personally witnessed the DC leash law enforcement, but I have seen some stories about how harsh some of their punishments can be, and I have NEVER seen anything about Arlington’s or AWLA’s punishments. Plus the fact that he called Shane for being despicable, when it seemed to me that Shane was commenting from personal experience (different than fact but in the context, I took that into consideration) – as was I. The other reason that I objected was because NOBODY else was able to provide any evidence of citations statistics that Shane asked for in his post from 3:47 yesterday. People merely attacked the points he was trying to make instead of providing irrefutable proof, which, coupled with my personal experience leads me to believe he isn’t too far from the truth.

          • Joe

            Well, if you wanted STATISTICS and DATA, why didn’t you ASK???

            If you go to the “Animal Control” section of the AWLA website, you get a picture of what must be the Animal Control staff: 4 uniformed officers and one other person. Note–you have to be able to count the people in a picture–a prereq for , uh, “statistics”.
            See http://www.awla.org/animal-control.shtml

            If you can read further, you can see the following statement:
            “While the Animal Control Officers are legally authorized to issue citations and take cases to court, the primary focus is on working with community residents to assist them in providing better care for their pets and observing the laws.”
            —So, you know, there’s at least more than half their time focused on people “observing the laws”, and a possibility of citations and court cases.

            The AWLA even takes the trouble of devoting website space to stating:
            “Leash Laws: When off their owner’s property, all dogs in Arlington must be leashed and under control of the owner or another responsible person. The only exception to this law is if the dog is in a county-sanctioned, off-lead dog exercise area. ”

            Finally, they have an “Animal Watch” blog, where you see what AWLA’s Animal Control unit has been doing:

            So that’s some “data” and “evidence” for you. What’s that saying all you quantitative whiners look for–ah yes, that would be Q.E.D. Game, set, match.

          • madisonmanor

            Thanks for the great info – those two links provided all the evidence and statistics one could hope for. Zero information on numbers of court cases or punishments – or ever NUMBER of people cited – for Arlington leash law violations – so your “statistics” and “evidence” don’t even address anything remotely about the “possibility of citations and court cases” – your phrase. You failed to address Shane’s question about “statistics showing how many citations are written annually” in your “evidence” – not even the number of complaints. And the second link was even MORE informative concerning the Animal Watch blog – 5 whole incidents discussed this year, and only ONE in Arlington, so if the 4 officers have responded to one reported incident in Arlington this year, they should have plenty of time to respond to resident’s complaints. So you provided absolutely nothing quantitative and demonstrated nothing. And I note that you couldn’t refute my earlier statement that when you call them their only response is that they can’t do anything unless they see it. They didn’t even officially log the complaint to see if there were other reports in the area.


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