Last year, two kittens rescued by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington became Internet sensations thanks to a viral video of them dancing to the hit song “Turn Down for What.”
This year, another AWLA kitten is getting some Internet love. Winnie, a foster kitten, stars in a video of her “dancing” to the tune of Mark Ronson and Bruno Mars’ pop hit “Uptown Funk.”
Since the video was uploaded to YouTube in May, it has received more than 600,000 views.
The AWLA wasn’t able to provide much information about Winnie, but did confirm that she was a foster kitten and has apparently since been adopted.
“Our foster coordinator recognizes the video kitten as one we had in the spring,” said league COO Susan Sherman.
Sherman said the organization, through its foster program, helps to rescue hundreds of kittens over the course of the summer. More kittens like Winnie, along with adult cats, are currently available for adoption.
“Kittens go to foster care when they are too young and sometimes too unsocial (feral) for adoption,” she said. “Once they reach two pounds in weight and are socialized to people, they come back to the shelter for adoption. We currently have nine kittens up for adoption and 24 in foster care who will be available in the next few weeks. Every summer our foster families help 200-300 kittens.”
Wellington Buyer Wants to Build — Washington REIT, which just purchased The Wellington apartments on Columbia Pike, has plans to build a new, 360-unit building on the property, perhaps atop the 711-unit complex’s large surface parking lot. [Bisnow]
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Nauck Community Portraits Exhibit — A new exhibition space in the Arlington County Cultural Affairs offices at 3700 Four Mile Run Drive is hosting “three-dimensional biographies” of Nauck community leaders created by Drew Elementary students. The “Nauck Community Portraits” exhibit was inspired by a new book about the historic African-American community. [InsideNova]
AWLA Placement Rate on the Rise — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington says it’s successfully placing shelter animals with new homes at a rate of 95 percent, exceeding national standards. It’s up from 76 percent in 2010, when Neil Trent took over as director of the organization. [Patch]
Three dogs that had been set for slaughter at a meat farm in South Korea are now alive and well in Arlington, thanks to the Humane Society and the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
The dogs first came to Arlington in January, part of a group of 23 that had been rescued by the Humane Society International and sent to D.C. area shelters. Now, two have been adopted and the other is still with AWLA, hoping to find a loving home soon.
AWLA provided an update on how the three are doing in their new environments.
Abi, a one-year-old female Corgi/Cattle Dog mix, was recently adopted by first time-dog owners Jackie and DJ Woodell. AWLA spokeswoman Kerry McKeel described Abi as “a beguiling blend of shy and wiley.”
Abi has also proven to be quite the escape artist; while at AWLA, McKeel said Abi would amuse herself by escaping through a weak spot in the fence of her enclosure and wandering the corridors. Abi’s new owners report that in her new home, she’s learned to unlatch her own crate and let herself out to explore.
All in all, “she’s pleasantly surprised everyone with her smooth transition to Easy Street,” said the Woodells.
Billy, a one-year-old Lhasa Apso/Poodle mix, was chipper and cuddly after coming to the shelter and was adopted within days.
Described as “a gregarious curly haired lapdog mix with a pronounced underbite and pleading eyes,” Billy was “well adjusted and ‘normal’ that he had us at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington convinced he was someone’s pet who’d been snatched off the street.”
Hope, a female Korean Jindo mix, is waiting to be adopted and currently living with a foster-guardian from K-9 Divine. McKeel said that Hope came to AWLA skittish and hyper vigilant, but seems to have found solace in companionship with the other dogs.
Hope spends her days at an off-leash daycare facility where she plays with the other dogs and goes home with Rachel Jones, her foster-guardian, at night. Jones reports that Hope has made great progress since living with her, and thinks she would make a wonderful pet for anyone willing to take the time to let her warm up to them.
Hope is available for adoption at AWLA’s website.
Photos courtesy Shelley Castle Photography
AWLA Cats Star in Movie Trailers — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is releasing a mock movie trailer each week this month starring their very own cats. The adoptable felines will then be given the star treatment at the shelter. “Guests who visit AWLA each Friday in June will be invited to walk the ‘Paw of Fame,’ enjoy some popcorn and take a photo with one of the starring ‘caters’ or ‘catresses’ or to take one home for free,” The first trailer is set to a “Jurassic World” theme. [Facebook]
Arlington Sells $77 Million in Bonds — Arlington County issued $77 million worth of bonds Tuesday, at an average interest rate of 2.8 percent. “Our Triple-AAA rating has helped ensure the lowest interest rates possible, ensuring taxpayer dollars for bond funded projects are used as effectively as possible,” County Manager Barbara Donnellan said in a press release. [Arlington County]
Sierra Club Endorses Fallon — Peter Fallon has picked up a key environmental endorsement ahead of the June 9 Democratic County Board primary. The Virginia chapter of the Sierra Club has endorsed Fallon, saying he has “a long history of community activism,” is “well versed in the environmental issues facing the County” and is “a strong supporter of [Arlington’s] Community Energy Plan.” Though there are two open County Board seats, the group said it “opted to only endorse one candidate.”
Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman
This Saturday marks the 20th anniversary of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington’s Walk for the Animals, and, in honor of the occasion, the nonprofit is adding a “Pet Fest” to the event.
The annual dog walk takes place in Bluemont Park (329 N. Manchester Street), with check-in at 9:30 a.m. and the 5K walk beginning at 10:30 a.m. There is also a one-mile “stroll” through park. After the walks conclude — you can register for them here for $30 or at the event for $40 — the Pet Fest will begin.
Owners are discouraged from bringing cats to the event.
The festival will last until 12:30 p.m. and include a “retail row,” with vendor booths from Dogma Bakery, KissAble Canine, Lazy Dog Art Studio and other pet-related local businesses. There will also be demonstration’s from Shirlington’s WOOFS! Dog Training and food from the CapMac DC truck.
With games like “bobbing for biscuits,” music from a local DJ and a “kids corner” where children can make pet-related crafts, there is no shortage of things to do when the walk is over.
“The Walk not only supports the thousands of animals the League cares for each year, but it is also a way for people to be a part of the solution for improving the lives of animals in our community,” AWLA CEO Neil Trent said in a press release. “We encourage people to walk with or without a dog, in memory of a beloved pet or in honor of their cat or other companion animal.”
(Updated at 6:00 p.m.) The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is strapped for cash and it says it’s time for the Arlington County Board to honor its responsibility to animals in the area.
“There’s a point at which we have to say ‘you’ve got to step up here’,” AWLA CEO Neil Trent told ARLnow.com today. “If you want to maintain the high level of animal welfare in Arlington, you have to give more.”
Every year, Trent said, the animal shelter — which is the county’s contractor for all animal control services — gives the county a budget for how much it costs to maintain its level of service.
In FY 2016, the difference between AWLA’s budget and the money allocated in County Manager Barbara Donnellan’s proposed budget is $365,000. Donnellan has allocated a total of $1.37 million to AWLA.
“The county has never provided the amount of money we’ve asked for. Never,” Trent said. “Every year, they come back and say ‘this is what it is … this is what you’re going to get.’ It’s never been negotiable.”
For the first time, AWLA is asking for help to pressure the County Board for money. Yesterday, the shelter sent an email to supporters asking them to contact Board members by March 24, and “tell them that as voters and taxpayers, YOU WANT public health and animal welfare to be a budget priority and ASK the County to provide AWLA with an additional $365K to continue to keep pets and the community safe.”
AWLA employs four animal control officers who work in shifts to have coverage 24 hours a day, every day of the year. Trent says he did an analysis, and the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria covers less area, a smaller population and employs five officers, all of whom are better paid than their Arlington counterparts.
On Sunday, the one control officer on duty fielded five calls from 11:20 a.m. to 4:40 p.m., including a German shepherd running in traffic that the Arlington County Police Department had to use a Taser on to subdue. Another dog had to be given shelter after its owner attempted suicide. It was busier than a typical day, Trent said, but not by much. Earlier this year, AWLA officers spent 70 hours investigating poisoned sausages that were left around north Arlington.
The lack of animal control resources in a county of 220,000 residents sometimes takes a toll. Arlington police officers have at times had to wait upwards of an hour for an animal control officer to finish up one call and respond to the animal-related police call they’re on.
In AWLA’s contract with the county, according to Trent, the shelter is required to care for injured wildlife; quarantine sick animals; take in animals whose owners have been injured or whose houses have suffered a disaster; rescue animals from abuse or neglect; and investigate public health concerns.
Also in the contract, Trent said, is a County Board-set goal of saving 90 percent of the dogs and 85 percent of cats taken in, despite the national shelter average save rate of 60 percent.
Last year, Trent said AWLA signed a 10-year extension of its animal control contract with the county, but every year the contract comes up for review. Last year, the county upped its contribution to the shelter by 1 percent, but the three years before that, the rate was flat. Meanwhile, AWLA’s costs rise about $60,000-$90,000 a year, Trent said.
“Name an award, we’ve received it,” he said. “It seems to me that we probably shot ourselves in the foot because we continue to maintain such a high standard of care that the county says ‘they’ll get on with it.'”
Trent said if AWLA doesn’t receive any additional funding, the board of directors will have to discuss which services it can scale back. He said, as CEO, the welfare of the animals in the county “is my responsibility, and I’m really concerned about the level of service. It’s not the County Board that’s going to be affected, it’s some kid that’s bitten or scratched by a rabid animal.”
And while he understands the County Board has plenty of items to fund, Trent is saying “enough is enough.”
“It would be a smack in the face from the county if they didn’t acknowledge our need,” Trent said. “You’ve only got to get one rabid raccoon in the middle of Arlington and you’ll see who’s needed most.”
Two dogs were hospitalized last month after eating sausages left on the ground on N. Columbus Street near Lee Highway. The Animal League of Arlington now knows what made them sick: caffeine pills inserted into the sausages.
AWLA spokeswoman Kerry McKeel said in an email this afternoon that the two dogs displayed “restlessness, accelerated heart rate and distended abdomens” when brought to local veterinary hospitals, but were released the next day without lingering side effects.
After conducting a toxicology report on the raw sausage AWLA recovered on the sidewalk of the 2200 block of N. Columbus Street, the organization determined caffeine pills caused the dogs’ health issues.
It remains unclear whether the dogs were intentionally or accidentally poisoned, but if it’s found that the person who left the sausages did so intentionally, he or she could face up to a year of jail time for animal cruelty, McKeel said.
McKeel said last month dog owners should “be cautious when walking their dog and to be cognizant of anything they’re eating.”
Anyone with information about the incident is encouraged to call AWLA at 703-931-9241.
Image via Wikimedia Commons
The reports have been making their way around neighborhood listservs, the popular Mothers of North Arlington listserv, local pet-related mailing lists and social media. Numerous emails have been forwarded to ARLnow.com.
According to various reports, at least two dogs have gotten sick since Sunday after eating “raw sausages” stuffed with pills, which had been left along sidewalks in the area around N. Columbus Street, north of Lee Highway. It’s not known what exactly was in the sausages, nor who’s leaving them on the ground.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington has investigated the reports and recovered one such sausage, according to spokeswoman Kerry McKeel. That sausage is being sent for toxicology testing, which might take a couple of days. The 2200-2600 block of N. Columbus Street was the focal point of AWLA’s investigation.
McKeel could not confirm reports of one of the sick dogs being in “critical condition.”
“We talked to all the vet emergency rooms and we only have two confirmed cases,” she said. One dog was “released today and is doing fine.” No word yet on the other.
Dog owners should be extra vigilant about what their dogs might try to ingest while out on walks, according to AWLA.
“At this point we’re telling people to be cautious when walking their dog and to be cognizant of anything they’re eating,” said McKeel. “It’s unclear if this is a case of intentional poisoning or something else.”
Reached via phone this afternoon, a police spokesman referred reporters to AWLA.
McKeel said the last known incident of intentional dog poisonings in Arlington was about 10 years ago, when someone put tainted dog treats in a dog park.
At least three dogs rescued from a South Korean meat farm will soon be available for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
The AWLA is partnering with five other local rescue organizations in the D.C. area to find new lives for 23 dogs rescued earlier this month by Humane Society International. It’s the first time the organization has negotiated the rescue of dogs raised for slaughter. The farmer who owned the dogs was compensated with $2,500 and will use that money to start growing blueberries.
Three dogs were taken from the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria — where all 23 have been housed since arriving at Dulles International Airport earlier this week — to AWLA’s headquarters at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive: A shih tzu named Billy, a corgi mix named Abi and a mother dog whose puppies were taken to other shelters. AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent says he expects Billy and Abi to be available for adoption in about two weeks.
“Some of the animals are going to have behavioral issues for a while, they’re not used to a kind hand,” he told ARLnow.com as his staff helped load Billy and Abi into their van. “They’re nervous, they’re stressed in a new environment, so it’s going to take some time.”
The mother might “have some health issues,” Trent said, and he’s still not sure when or how many puppies AWLA will receive. The dogs will be available for adoption on a first-come, first-served basis.
The AWLA has worked with the Humane Society of the United States before, but this was their first interaction with HSI, Trent said. Trent, who is British, is a former executive director of HSI and said it’s been a recent initiative of the organization to curb the Asian dog meat trade. Trent was notified last month that dogs may be coming to the D.C. area from South Korea.
“We’ve taken dogs from HSUS before, so we said ‘absolutely, we’ll be on alert,'” he said.
HSI’s hope is the 23 dogs rescued will be a symbol in fighting the dog meat market. HSI director Kelly O’Meara told the Washington Post that between 1.2 million and 2 million dogs are eaten in South Korea every year.
The awards are given each year to individuals and organizations who show a “sustained commitment and/or outstanding accomplishment in the area of human rights made in Arlington,” according to the county’s press release.
The award winners will be honored at a ceremony on Thursday, Dec. 11, in the Arlington County Board room on the third floor of 2100 Clarendon Blvd, from 7:00-9:00 p.m. The winners are selected by Arlington’s Human Rights Commission.
“It is a true honor and privilege to recognize these outstanding individuals and organizations,” said Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette. “They are the true heroes of our community and what makes Arlington such a great place to live. We should all be grateful for having such outstanding individuals and organizations in our community who have dedicate their lives and their work to look after those in need.”
Below is the complete list of winners, from the county’s announcement:
- Barbara Amaya is a long time Arlington resident who was a victim of violence through human trafficking during her adolescence and early adulthood stages of her life. She has been able to turn her personal pain and suffering into relentless advocacy against human trafficking and violence.
- Stephen Fowler is the president of the board of directors of Legal Services of Northern Virginia, a non-profit entity committed to provide legal services to those who cannot afford an attorney in civil matters. He has gone beyond his policy commitments as president of the board, and volunteers his time representing victims of domestic violence in court, among others, to obtain protective orders.
- The Animal Welfare League not only protects animals from violence but the stability of families and the safety of a spouse or a child. Studies have demonstrated that people who abuse pets are at an increased risk of becoming domestic abusers. Other studies have shown that almost half of the victims of domestic abuse — who need to leave their homes — fear for the safety of the pets and delay leaving. Pets play a significant part in the emotional stability and sometimes the physical safety of children and people who owned them.
- Doorways for Women and Families is a provider of shelter and support services to victims of domestic violence. It provides immediate and lon- term housing for women and families fleeing domestic violence and homelessness. It delivers support services aimed at helping women and families learn how to get back on their feet and live safe and independent lives. It advocates for changes that will help eliminate domestic violence and homelessness.
- The Reading Connection has been serving Arlington County for more than 25 years. It provides an array of literacy programs aimed at children at-risk and families. Creating a literacy-rich environment helps children succeed and serves as a long-term strategy to escape the cycle of poverty. Last year, The Reading Connection served 218 at-risk children in Arlington County, through its Read-Aloud program, and 118 parents through the Reading Family Workshops. Reading is an important element of education, which is one of the best tools against all kinds of violence.
Image via Doorways
A kitten named Speedo is getting the physical therapy he needs.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is treating a two-month-old domestic shorthair known as a “swimmer” cat who walks by making swimming-like motions with his front paws.
Born with rear legs that splay outward, Speedo was dropped off at the AWLA at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. by an owner who wasn’t in the position to deal with his medical issues, Chief Operating Officer Susan Sherman said.
The shelter found a foster home for the kitten, who gets physical therapy treatments every day. Rather than opting for surgery on his legs, Speedo gets massages and may even receive acupuncture treatments.
“The massage is meant to train the muscles and ligaments,” Sherman said. “The acupuncture would stimulate nerves.
“We do not believe he’s in any pain,” she added.
AWLA veterinarians made a special “alley” for Speedo to walk through with his hind legs bound, encouraging him to walk correctly.
To help pets like Speedo, AWLA is asking for donations to their Woody and Mickey Healthy Pet Fund, which helps special needs pets by paying for”above and beyond” services like orthopedic surgery, blood tests and dental surgery.
Despite his ongoing treatments, Speedo is a sweetheart, Sherman said.
“He is adorable. He’s very sweet and amazingly friendly.”
AWLA expects the kitten will need a permanent home later this year.
“We’re going to see how much he’s able to progress, and as soon as we think he’s going to be able to live a healthy, happy life, he’ll be up for adoption,” she said.
AWLA made this video of Speedo walking through his “alley”:
With domestic violence in the news, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is spreading the word about a program that allows those in dire situations to shelter their pets.
The nonprofit organization, located at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive, has a program called “Safekeeping.” The program allows pet owners in Arlington and Falls Church to shelter their pets at AWLA for up to two weeks while the owner is coping with an emergency, like domestic violence, losing a home or the owner’s death.
With the national spotlight thrust on domestic violence after video surfaced of Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice punching his then-fiancée, AWLA is hoping to remind abuse victims that their pet’s well-being could be at risk as well as their own.
“A strong connection has been documented linking animal abuse and domestic violence,” said AWLA spokeswoman Kerry McKeel. “Women often delay their decision to leave an abusive partner out of concern for the safety of their pets.”
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence reports that 83 percent of women and 63 percent of children, after having arrived at a domestic violence shelter — such as Doorways for Women and Families — reported incidents of pet abuse.
“At AWLA our steadfast mission throughout the year is to improve the lives of animals and one way in which we accomplish this objective is through our Safekeeping program,” McKeel said. “Animals often give continuity and hope during a crisis, so it is distressing for many when they feel forced to part with a pet due to their circumstance. During a crisis, pet owners often just need some short-term help to get back on their feet and that is what we offer through the Safekeeping program.”
Animals can be sheltered at AWLA for two weeks at a time, and the owners are required to check on the pet’s welfare after one week, AWLA says. There is no limit for how many times an animal can be sheltered in case of emergency. McKeel said that, since Safekeeping was launched as a service in 2005, more than 200 animals have been sheltered.
File photo courtesy AWLA
Peter’s Take is a weekly opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this column are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ARLnow.com.
AWLA provides animal adoption and community programs to the northern Virginia and D.C. metropolitan area, as well as animal rescue and control services within Arlington County. AWLA is committed to its mission to improve the lives of animals through sheltering, community services and humane education.
More than 3,000 companion animals benefit each year, with 92 percent of sheltered animals in 2013 either being adopted into loving homes, reunited with their owner, or transferred to one of many of AWLA’s network of rescue and rehabilitation partners.
Many of you already may be familiar with AWLA’s basic services, but AWLA also offers some innovative programs about which you may not be as familiar. These include baby ready pets, safekeeping (companions in crisis), and the veterinary assistance program.
Baby Ready Pets
Baby-Ready Pets is a free, two-hour workshop to help expectant families in northern Virginia prepare their home and their pets for the arrival of the new baby. This workshop:
- Provides tips and strategies for making the home a safe and (relatively) stress-free experience for all, and
- Has been endorsed by the ASPCA.
After the workshop, participants may call or email follow-up questions if they need additional support.
Safekeeping (Companions in Crisis)
If you are an Arlington County or Falls Church City resident, and you are experiencing a health or housing crisis (i.e. unexpected hospitalization, house fire), AWLA can shelter your pet on a short-term basis, through the Safekeeping program, giving you time to make other arrangements.
Pets are permitted to stay for up to two weeks, and there is no restriction on the number of times people can use the service. The pet’s owner is required to contact AWLA on a weekly basis during the safekeeping period to check on the wellbeing of their pet, and is permitted to visit their pet during the League’s regular visiting hours.
Veterinary Assistance Program
Through the Ross-Roberts Emergency Veterinary Assistance fund, the League makes small, no-interest loans to low-income pet owners who need emergency veterinary care for their pets but cannot afford the costs up-front. AWLA doesn’t cover expenses for basic pet care (shots, check-ups, teeth-cleaning) or chronic, life-long conditions (i.e. diabetes, heart condition, allergies). The owner agrees to pay back the loan in monthly installments and to have their pet spayed or neutered if it is not already.
Arlington is fortunate to have AWLA offering these services in our community. For more information about these programs, visit www.awla.org
Peter Rousselot is a former member of the Central Committee of the Democratic Party of Virginia and former chair of the Arlington County Democratic Committee.
The inaugural event will be held at Lubber Run Amphitheater this Sunday, June 29, starting at 6:00 p.m.
Attendees can bring their dogs and a picnic meal, or buy boxed dinners from La Cote d’Or onsite. The AWLA will also hold a raffle for a birdhouse replica of the Lincoln-era White House. The philharmonic will play “marches and animal-related classics” from pieces by Aaron Copland, John Philip Sousa and Johann Sebastian Bach, according to an AWLA press release.
“Both of our organizations are really quite enthused about this, so we’ll see what the public response is,” John Ratigan, board chair of the philharmonic, said. The philharmonic and the AWLA hope “Pops for Pets” will become an annual event.
A combination of the open amphitheater and “accessible” music selection, Ratigan said, makes this event more of a crowd-pleaser than a typical orchestral performance.
Arlington County Board Chair Jay Fisette’s 13-year-old Border Collie-mix, Cassie, will serve as honorary co-chair of the event.
“She is like a little Buddah,” Fisette said of his dog, which he found on the street while visiting family in Texas.
Concert-goers’ donations will go toward funding the event and “the missions of both organizations,” AWLA Board Chair Pat Ragan said. “It’ll be a great community event.”
Following its 7oth Anniversary Summer Soiree, “Pops for Pets” will continue to celebrate both AWLA’s anniversary and their on-going efforts to find homes and provide care for over 3,000 animals.
AWLA was founded during World War II, and the foresight of the founders is not lost on AWLA President and CEO Neil Trent.
“Back in the ’40s they thought of this in a coffee shop with a war going on,” Trent said. “They said hey, let’s help animals… and they weren’t sitting at the corner Starbucks either.”
Retractable leashes will not be allowed at the event. In the event of inclement weather, “Pops for Pets” will be rescheduled for Tuesday, July 1 at 6:00 p.m.
The video shows the kittens nodding their heads in a synchronized “dance,” seemingly along with the beat of the hit song “Turn Down for What,” by DJ Snake and Lil Jon.
Daisy and Tulip are eight weeks old and are still available for adoption, according to AWLA Executive Director Neil Trent. The video, posted on May 29, has already accumulated more than 3 million views, but Trent said despite people calling with interest about the two kittens, the shelter has yet to receive any formal adoption applications.
Daisy and Tulip, sisters found abandoned when they were less than a week old and their eyes were still closed, are scheduled for surgery to get spayed on Thursday, but Trent said anyone can come in and visit this afternoon, Wednesday or after the surgery on Friday to see the two felines.
“We haven’t had anything that’s gotten this kind of reception,” Trent told ARLnow.com. “Occasionally we’ll post something on YouTube of a cat or a kitten. I think it may be stimulated a bit because the writer of the song is a rap guy named Lil Jon and he Facebooked about the video. Maybe that’s what helped it go out into the ether.”
Daisy, the tortoiseshell-colored kitten, and Tulip are two of about 25-30 kittens currently residing in AWLA’s new feline shelter, along with 45-50 cats, Trent said. There are also about 50 kittens in foster families, where they live until they’re about eight weeks old and are ready to be spayed.
Photo courtesy AWLA