A large snapping turtle gave a few South Arlington parkgoers a surprise today (Wednesday), and animal control officers ultimately had to step in to guide the reptile to safety.
Jennifer Toussaint, the county’s chief animal control officer, told ARLnow that her office received a call around noon that the large turtle was in the street at the intersection of Army Navy Drive and 28th Street S., just near Fraser Park.
She said an officer ultimately “safely moved the snapping turtle in the direction it was heading towards the stream adjacent to the brush line near the street,” which backs up to I-395.
Toussaint added that it’s hardly unusual for her office to receive calls about snapping turtles — animal control officers discovered someone keeping one as a pet just last month, a practice she strongly advises against — and the Arlington Ridge and Long Branch Creek neighborhoods seem to be particularly popular spots for the creatures.
“Snapping turtles mate from April [to] November and travel extensively on land when laying eggs and looking for [a] new habitat,” Toussaint wrote in an email. “Army Navy Drive [and]28th Street seems to be a very specifically popular areas for them, as we have yearly calls for service for snapping turtles in the roadway injured or needing assistance ranging back as far as 2013. Most of our snapping turtle calls in Arlington come in June [through] July.”
Justin Covert, one of the people to discover the turtle, added that his girlfriend discovered another turtle in the park earlier this month, even though he’d “never seen a turtle around these parts until now.”
Should the turtle sightings continue, Toussaint wants to warn people that the reptiles have “very flexible necks, sharp long claws, a strong jaw and can act defensive when handled.”
While animal control officers may be best-suited to move the creatures off roadways, she advises that it’s “inappropriate to pick them up by their tails,” if any turtle seems in danger.
“Their weight needs to be supported and dragging them can cause cuts that can get infected,” Toussaint wrote.
Photo courtesy of Justin Covert
Trista Nealon and some of her neighbors thought they were doing the right thing when they forced their way into the neighborhood pool to rescue some wayward ducklings — but now, their condo association is threatening them with criminal charges for their efforts.
Nealon tells ARLnow that one of her fellow condo owners in Fairlington Glen noticed seven ducklings stuck in the neighborhood’s community pool back on May 10 and she decided to go ask the pool’s manager if she could get in and help them leave.
When Nealon was rebuffed, she and her neighbors tried contacting a member of the Wildlife Rescue League to come help — again, they had no luck. So a group went back over to the pool, unlocked its gate by reaching in through a well-positioned mail slot, and fished out the baby ducks.
Nealon says a woman accosted the group at the time and threatened to call the police, before storming off, but she otherwise didn’t think much of the encounter. Yet when last Thursday (May 31) rolled around, Nealon and a few other neighbors involved in the rescue effort received a letter from attorneys representing the Fairlington Glen Council of Co-Owners informing her that the group’s Board of Directors “is currently considering whether to press charges or take other enforcement action.”
“I am a [27-year] Glen resident owner, and it is ridiculous that I am being threatened with criminal charges for being a Good Samaritan and saving baby ducks,” Nealon wrote in an email. She shared a copy of the letter with ARLnow and also posted it to a Facebook group for Fairlington residents.
Kristen Buck, an associate with the firm Rees Broome, said in the letter that the condo board felt a lock around the pool was damaged in the process of this rescue effort, and she’s requesting the people involved to pay the board $100 each to help reimburse the cost of replacing it.
“Such a good faith payment may influence whether the Board decides to press charges or take other action,” Buck wrote.
Nealon insists that no one damaged any property over the course of this episode, and she finds Buck’s suggestion that the neighbors should have simply called the county’s animal control to be without merit, given the “imminent danger” she felt the ducklings were in at the time.
Buck declined comment on the matter, as did Thora Stanwood, president of the condo association’s Board of Directors.
But, in a newsletter distributed by the condo association, there is a reference to a “break in” at the Fairlington Glen pool.
The newsletter claims a police report was filed about the incident, and that condo association’s Board of Directors “consulted with legal counsel about the recovery of damage from the break in.” County police spokeswoman Ashley Savage says she has no record of any police report being filed from the area that day.
Nealon isn’t sure what she’ll do next, but she at least plans to attend the condo association’s next meeting to protest her treatment, and she doesn’t expect she’ll be alone.
Her post on the Fairlington Appreciation Society Facebook page about the incident already has 125 likes and dozens of supportive comments.
Photo courtesy of Trista Nealon
Twenty-one pets, including 19 cats and two dogs, were removed from a home in Arlington with hoarding conditions.
Arlington animal control officers responded with police to the home on Thursday, Jan. 18 to execute a search warrant “in relation to potential cruelty and hoarding,” according to an Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman.
“The animal control team removed 21 animals — 19 cats and 2 dogs — and transported them to emergency veterinary facilities for care,” AWLA said Thursday. “Today in Arlington County General District Court, [Animal Control] Chief [Jennifer] Toussaint was awarded custody of 16 cats. The remaining animals — 3 cats and 2 dogs — will be returned to the owner pending a full property inspection by animal control.”
Toussaint issued the following statement about the situation to ARLnow.com.
The success of these types of operations rises and falls on the support from the county and community. So many hands have gone into the positive outcome for these animals. I would like to recognize a few of those individuals and agencies who stepped up with less than 48 hour notice to come to these animals’ aid.
First and foremost I would like to thank the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. From making space for them, to establishing isolation for the sick cats, to lending support staff on site for the warrant execution, and now ultimately taking on the care and placement of 16 cats. They come through time and time again for our team and the community’s animals in need and provide top-notch care and compassion to every animal that is in their care.
I would also like to thank the Arlington County Police Department and Arlington County Commonwealth Attorney’s Office for their assistance and professionalism in this case from pre-warrant execution to the custody hearing.
Other assisting agencies and individuals include Michelle Welch with the Office of the Attorney General, Arlington Animal Hospital, Ballston Animal Hospital, Clarendon Animal Care, Caring Hands Animal Hospital, Kimberly Corcoran LVT, Adrienne Hergen, DVM, and Marnie Russ, foster volunteer.
Arlington Man Killed in Md. Workplace Shooting — An Arlington man was among the three people killed in a workplace mass shooting near Baltimore on Wednesday. The family of the 53-year-old father of three says they forgive the accused shooter, who was later arrested in Delaware. [NBC Washington, WJLA, GoFundMe]
Marine Corps Marathon Preps Well Underway — This week workers have been setting up fencing, mile markers, signs, tents, TV camera towers, temporary no parking signs and making other preparations along the Marine Corps Marathon route in Arlington. [WJLA, Twitter]
Award for Arlington Animal Control Officer — Animal Welfare League of Arlington Chief of Animal Control Jennifer Toussaint has been named Virginia Animal Control Officer of the Year for “outstanding service in the field of animal care and control.” [Facebook]
Winter Outlook: Warmer for Arlington — The National Weather Service’s official U.S. Winter Outlook was released yesterday and predicts a warmer winter for Arlington and the D.C. area, with equal chances of more or less precipitation than usual. [Twitter]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
Arlington Pitching Brainpower to Amazon — Arlington Economic Development Director Victor Hoskins plans to emphasize Arlington’s highly-educated workforce — 70 percent of the population has a bachelor’s degree or higher — in trying to woo Amazon’s new headquarters to the county. [Washington Business Journal]
Animal Control Called for Normal Raccoon — Someone called animal control to report a raccoon “acting strangely” on the 600 block of S. Carlin Springs Drive last week. An animal control officer responded and determined that “its behavior was normal.” [Twitter]
Snowblower Application Deadline Nearing — Arlington’s Dept. of Parks and Recreation loans out snowblowers to groups of residents, on the condition that they agree to clear sidewalks for neighbors in need, in front of bus stops, etc. The application deadline for this coming winter is Oct. 13. [Arlington County]
Flickr pool photo by Arlington VA
The attack happened Wednesday night as the woman was on her patio with her dog. A neighbor described the woman “screaming and flailing around,” then “spraying down the blood stains on her patio” the next day, with a bandaged foot and arm.
This latest incident follows two other bloody raccoon attacks last year, which set a Facebook page for Fairlington residents abuzz. Now, residents are calling Fairlington’s trash policies into question.
Rather than using trash cans, condo association rules call for Fairlington residents to put trash bags out in front of their buildings in the mornings, for pick up 6 days a week. The trash is picked up later in the morning, but often after birds, squirrels and other critters (rarely raccoons, which are nocturnal) start clawing at the food inside the bags, spreading the contents on the ground. And that’s not to mention the times when residents heading out of town or simply flaunting condo rules will put trash out at night, an almost sure-fire way to ensure wildlife gets to it before the trash collectors.
“The Arlington Animal Welfare League says they will not attempt to remove the raccoon because there is an underlying problem in our neighborhood related to the trash,” said a neighbor of the woman who was attacked last week, in a widely-discussed Facebook post. “No other part of Arlington has as many raccoons as our lovely Fairlington. To address the problem, the Head of Animal Control suggested closed trash cans that could still be picked up daily, and could be tasteful and wooden and raccoon proof.”
“I think this is something we should advocate for,” the neighbor continued. “Until the trash situation is sorted out, the raccoon population will remain high, most likely leading to more attacks.”
In a letter from the Fairlington Villages condominium association, one of several in the larger Fairlington neighborhood, general manager Colin Horner blamed habitat loss and said residents should not feed birds nor feed their pets outside.
“Wild animals are very bold these days. This is because their territories are shrinking,” Horner wrote. “Wooded areas where wildlife resides are being destroyed to make way for human expansion. As a result, animals are being forced out into the open to search for food and lodging.”
Horner urged residents to only put out trash between 6-9 a.m., saying that “the availability of food from trash left out overnight has been singled out as a primary cause for the increase in the raccoon population,” but added that “a review of the trash policy is a current item on the Board agenda.”
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, meanwhile, said it is “actively managing this case.”
“Animal control officers were unable to the locate the suspect raccoon,” said Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Toussaint. “We are actively managing this case and ask that anyone with direct knowledge relating to this incident or anyone who sees a raccoon acting abnormally or coming close to residences in this area contact animal control immediately at 703-931-9241.”
Photo (top) courtesy Lilia Ward via Facebook
(Updated at 2:45 p.m.) Arlington County firefighters are on the scene of an apartment fire in the North Highlands neighborhood, near Rosslyn.
The fire was reported on the 1600 block of 21st Street N., in the living room of a second floor apartment, just before 1:45 p.m.
The blaze was quickly extinguished. Firefighters located a dog that had been in the apartment and attempted CPR, but the dog was later pronounced dead, we’re told.
No person was inside the apartment at the time and no injuries were reported. Firefighters are currently ventilating smoke from the building and investigating the cause of the fire.
#Update Fire has been extinguished & contained to one apt. No injuries. Units remaining on scene to check for hot spots and clean up.
— Arlington Fire (@ACFDPIO) January 23, 2017
UPDATE: command requesting animal control to respond to the scene, for one dog.
— LincolnACFD (@LincolnACFD) January 23, 2017
(Updated at 1:20 p.m.) An Arlington resident found a snake — a juvenile Yellow Anaconda, to be exact — in an apartment toilet last week.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington recounted the surprise find in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon. It happened, at an apartment building on 31st Street S. — in the Shirlington area.
“We do not know for certain how the snake got to this particular toilet but it is highly likely that it is someone’s pet that was either abandoned or escaped from an improperly shut vivarium,” said AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Lindsey. “The snake (named Sir Hiss) would have then gone into the plumbing looking for food.”
No one was injured and the snake was safely removed from the apartment and taken to AWLA’s shelter. The organization says they have subsequently found a specialist to care for it.
“We highly encourage anyone thinking about having a snake as a pet to do extremely thorough research to determine whether they will be able to adequately care for their snake,” AWLA advised. “Fully grown, Yellow Anacondas can be up to 13 feet long and weigh more than 100 lbs.”
More from the AWLA post:
It’s never a dull day in Arlington County Animal Control! Last week, our Animal Control team received a call about a snake in the toilet of a local apartment. Officer Brenys White was able to safely remove the snake from the toilet and brought him back to the shelter. We were all in for a bit of a surprise — we were expecting him to be a wild snake or a ball python, but the snake is, in fact, a juvenile Yellow Anaconda!
Luckily, we were able to find a specialist who is familiar with his species and will be able to give him the care that he needs. We highly encourage anyone thinking about having a snake as a pet to do extremely thorough research to determine whether they will be able to adequately care for their snake. Fully grown, Yellow Anacondas can be up to 13ft long and weigh more than 100lbs. They need specialized care and housing, and while they are non-venomous, can be dangerous when they reach full size and are not well-socialized. Plus, no one likes being surprised by a lost and confused snake in their toilet! We are glad that in this circumstance we were able to rescue this snake, and that he did not make it out of the apartment complex and into the wild. Thank you to Officer Brenys for rescuing the snake and our specialist for giving him a new home!
Photo via Facebook/Animal Welfare League of Arlington
The latest attack happened Sunday night on the 4800 block of 28th Street S.
“Last night my husband and I were in our living room when we heard HORRIFIC screams coming from outside,” a resident wrote. “We went outside and learned a woman was being attacked by a ‘cute’ raccoon. The paramedics were called.”
Raccoons usually don’t attack humans unless they are rabid or defending their young. So far, authorities have not warned about the Fairlington raccoons potentially being rabid, although victims have received rabies shots.
The latest attack followed another incident in June, in which a raccoon attacked a woman and her dog, prompting a community meeting. That attack was said to be the result of a raccoon defending its young against the dog.
A third raccoon attack in Fairlington was reported last August.
Sunday’s attack came just two days after a nearby resident posted photos of a raccoon family of five on her third floor balcony; reaction to the photos was split between those who found the raccoons adorable and those who found the encounter terrifying.
WJLA’s Stephen Tschida reported on the attack during last night’s 11 p.m. news broadcast. Two raccoons “jumped on [the victim] and mauled and scratched her head, arm, and her leg,” Tschida reported. The broadcast showed a photo of a raccoon attack victim with numerous deep, bloody gouges on her arm.
Since the attack was first reported, at least one other raccoon sighting has been posted to Facebook.
“We were just walking our dog and spotted two raccoons in the parking lot where our neighbor was attacked yesterday,” a resident wrote. “They were on the front porch of a building and weren’t even bothered by the porch lights. One of them made a loud screeching sound then they scurried away. Please be careful if you are outside!”
“Something needs to be done,” said another resident in response, echoing the sentiment of others. However, the Facebook chatter has split those who want the raccoons to be trapped and euthanized and those seeking a more humane solution.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, meanwhile, says it is encouraging the management of Fairlington’s condo associations to re-examine its trash collection system. Currently, residents are instructed to leave bags of trash out in front of their homes in the morning for collection. Still, some ignore the instructions and take out the trash at night.
“The latest attack involved raccoons foraging in trash bags that were left out at night for pickup the following day,” said AWLA’s Susan Sherman. “We have advised Fairlington’s management that the way to curb future attacks is to make sure that all trash is secured in closed bins rather than being left on the curb in plastic bags.”
“Residents should keep their distance from wildlife and should keep their immediate outdoor area free of attractions such as trash, pet food, and bird feeders,” Sherman added.
AWLA is also directing residents to a recap of the July meeting it held in Fairlington on the topic of human and wildlife interactions.
Photo (bottom) by Lilia Ward
The dog, naturally, went after the critters. The raccoon mom fought back. The woman tried to intervene to protect her dog. Her screams alerted neighbors, who found her bloodied with big gashes on her arm. Medics, police and animal control were called, and the woman was taken to the hospital for treatment and rabies shots.
“Our Animal Control officers were called about this situation, and responded to the location with the Police Department,” confirmed Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Chelsea Lindsey. “They searched but could not find the raccoon. We think the raccoon may have had babies with her, and become protective when she was confronted by the dog and then the dog’s owner.”
The incident has some Fairlington residents on edge, wondering if such an attack could happen to them or their pets. The raccoon, after all, is still on the loose.
On Tuesday, July 5, at 7 p.m. AWLA will be holding a community meeting “to discuss and advise residents on interaction and conflicts with wildlife.” The meeting is being held at the Fairlington Villages Community Center (3005 S. Abingdon Street).
“This meeting is being held in light of the injury recently suffered by a resident resulting from an encounter with a raccoon,” says the event’s Facebook page.
Lindsey said that it’s somewhat rare for raccoons to attack dogs or humans, but it does happen.
In September 2013, ARLnow.com reported on a pregnant woman who was repeatedly bitten by an aggressive raccoon in her East Falls Church backyard, as her daughter watched in horror.
“We get reports of raccoons in altercations with dogs somewhat regularly, but contact with people is rare,” she said. “In the last 12 months we have had one other report of a raccoon bite to a person in Fairlington, and it was in August 2015.”
“Healthy raccoons are unlikely to pick a fight with a dog, but dogs sometimes chase them, and sick/injured raccoons and mothers protecting their young may fight back to defend itself,” Lindsey said. “AWLA highly recommends making sure to feed your dog inside (as food left outdoors can attract raccoons) and not to allow your dog in your yard or outdoors without immediate supervision. We also recommend that all dogs (and cats) have an up-to-date rabies vaccine, as is required by state law.”
“While raccoons are primarily nocturnal and residents won’t typically see them during the day, it is not that unusual for them to roam outside during the day looking for food or sunning themselves,” Lindsey added. “It is best to simply leave raccoons alone if you see them outside. However, if one appears to be sick (staggering, walking in circles, falling, biting itself, salivating heavily), injured or if you find a deceased raccoon on your property, we recommend calling Animal Control immediately so they can investigate.”
Photo by Bastique via Wikipedia
Stratford School Designated Historic — The Arlington County Board has approved a historic designation for the Stratford School, the current home to the H-B Woodlawn Secondary Program and the future home to a new middle school. In 1959, Stratford became the first public school in Virginia to be integrated, with four black seventh graders enrolling, thus marking the beginning of the end of school segregation in the Commonwealth. [Arlington County]
Fox Freed From Fence — A not-so-sly fox had to be freed by an Arlington animal control officer after getting its hind leg stuck in a chain link fence. The fox was uninjured. [Twitter]
Park Expansion, Land Donation Approved — The County Board last night approved the expansion of Benjamin Banneker Park, via the purchase of a 8,487-square-foot lot for $637,500. The Board also accepted the donation of 7,432 square feet of land adjacent to I-66 and a bike trail. Hitt Contracting, Inc. donated the land after figuring out that zoning restrictions prevented the company from developing it. [Arlington County]
Preservationists Worried About Tear-Downs — Local preservationists are worried about plan to tear down a number of older properties in the area of Minor’s Hill and replace them with new homes. However, it appears that the home builders will be able to proceed with their plans, as “Arlington County has no legal authority to delay or stop the demolition.” [Falls Church News-Press]
Long Branch Creek’s First Neighborhood Plan — The Long Branch Creek neighborhood, located near the Glebe Road onramp to I-395, has had its first-ever Neighborhood Conservation Plan approved by the Arlington County Board. The plan will allow the neighborhood to apply for neighborhood improvement projects. It calls for Long Branch Creek to become a “walkable urban village” while “preserving the livability and quiet, diverse character of the neighborhood.” [Arlington County]
Yorktown Student Auditions for Shark Tank — Among those auditioning for the ABC show Shark Tank at a recent casting call at 1776 in Crystal City was a 17-year-old Yorktown High School student, Zanab Farooq, who founded a custom mobile phone case company. [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
An Arlington animal control officer rescued six baby ducks from a storm drain Monday morning.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which provides animal control services in the county, announced the duckling rescue via Twitter yesterday.
Here’s what happened, according to AWLA’s Chelsea Lindsey.
Officer Corcoran was called out this morning for six ducklings who had fallen through the grates of a storm drain. Officer Corcoran was able to use a large net to get all six ducklings out of the water at the bottom. She put them in a crate and waited nearby for the mother to come back, but she never returned, so Officer Corcoran brought them back to the shelter and they were taken to a wildlife rehabber in Falls Church who will care for them until they are old enough to be released back into the wild.
Photo courtesy @AWLAArlington
Ashton Heights Takes Stance Against Gun Store — More than 100 members of the Ashton Heights Civic Association voted last night on whether or not to take a position against the planned gun store in nearby Lyon Park. Fully 93 percent of those voting said they supported the civic association expressing opposition to the store, according to the group Act4LyonPark.
Retiring School Board Chair Recognized — At last night’s Arlington School Board meeting, Del. Alfonso Lopez read the joint resolution passed in the state legislature commending Dr. Emma Violand-Sanchez, who’s retiring as School Board Chair at the end of her term this year. [Katch, Twitter]
Raccoon Checks Out Home’s Toilet, Leaves — A woman in the Columbia Forest neighborhood called police after finding animal footprints on a toilet seat. The responding animal control officer determined that a raccoon had come down the chimney, apparently traipsed around the toilet and left. [Twitter]
GOP Convention Delegate Selection Gets Interesting — The prospect of a contested convention has made the selection of three delegates to represent Virginia’s Eighth Congressional District more interesting. At a recent Arlington County Republican Committee meeting, would-be delegates were asked who they would support for president. A reporter present didn’t hear anyone say Donald Trump. [InsideNova, InsideNova]
Condo for Sale Has a Unique Map of D.C. — A one-bedroom condo for sale in Rosslyn has a custom-designed map of D.C. painted across one of the walls. The mural was created by one of the current owners, who happens to be a former cartographer. [Washington Post]
Ouli Gets Attention from Local Tech Scene — “First Look: Could ‘Ouli’ Be the Concierge App for DC?” asks a new headline from a D.C. tech publication. The app’s creator, a software development firm on Lee Highway that has up until now served just corporate clients, says for now the app is focused solely on serving the Arlington market. [DC Inno]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
The Animal Welfare League in Arlington says a sick raccoon its animal control officer captured in North Arlington has tested positive for rabies.
AWLA is now seeking any person or pet who might have made contact with the raccoon. From AWLA:
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington seeks information about any people or pets who may have had physical exposure to a raccoon that has tested positive for rabies. After receiving calls on Sunday, February 28 about a sick raccoon, an animal control officer captured a sick looking raccoon in the 3700 block of N. Military Road near the Madison Community Center and dog park. The officer humanely euthanized the raccoon at the animal shelter and sent a sample for rabies testing. On March 1 the test report was positive. We ask that anyone who may have had contact or whose pets may have had contact with any raccoon in that vicinity, please call the League at 703-931-9241.
“Fowl running at large” is a local ordinance that doesn’t get used much nowadays, but it was enforced following an unusual incident near Columbia Pike over the weekend.
An animal control officer was called to an address on S. Barton Street on Saturday evening for a report of a runaway peacock. After a brief search, the officer found and captured the rogue peacock — and located its owner, who was issued a ticket for the aforementioned “fowl running at large” violation.
The peacock and its owner may have an even bigger problem than the “at large” charge, which is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine up to $100.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which runs the animal control program, said they notified the county zoning department — which enforces the county’s prohibition on keeping fowl in most residential yards — about the incident.
Flickr photo by Sadie Hart