After searching around a shed and checking under all the cars in the apartment parking lot, Arlington Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint had returned to her van to think. Then a woman walked up to the window, mouthing a question and pointing behind us: “Kittens?”
Sure enough, after Toussaint followed her to the far side of the lot in Arlington’s Forest Glen neighborhood, she spotted one, tiny white paw disappearing up into the engine block of a dark green sedan. A tipster who called earlier that morning about kittens was right.
The head of the county’s animal control office used cans of tuna and YouTube videos of kittens crying to lure two little tabbies and one inky black feline out from under the car. While she did, the car’s owner came out of the building and sat on her walker next to us.
Angela Davis said her car had been damaged in a crash and hadn’t moved for weeks.
“The kittens were probably born there,” said Toussaint.
Davis nodded, saying she had spotted movement underneath it a week ago. “I said, ‘My goodness, there’s something moving!'”
But after an hour of all the tricks that Toussaint knew — like knocking her belt on the engine to scare them out and holding one of the siblings near the hiding space — one kitten stubbornly remained.
“I have to go, my cases are starting to back up,” she sighed, and noted in her case management system she’d be back.
It was one of about a dozen calls for service that Toussaint received during the several hours ARLnow spent shadowing Arlington Animal Control last week. During that time, the calls she received included a request to surrender a dog, remove a dead squirrel, investigate a dog-selling scam, and check on abandoned dogs in an apartment, among others.
Toussaint said animal control responded to about 3,500 cases last year, not including some of the smaller requests staff can solve over the phone.
The county’s animal control office is located in the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) building at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive. It employs six staffers compared to the shelter’s 40.
At the end of the shift, Toussaint returned to her blue and white office where her Boston Terrier rescue Reagan sleeps in the corner and Toussaint can be found dual-wielding the phone and keyboard to handle multiple requests for service. She said this represented a medium-busy day.
“You’ve never going to have a day when you’re out of calls to run,” she joked.
Arlington: Most Competitive Housing Market in U.S. — “The most competitive U.S. housing markets are the two that are closest to Crystal City, home of Amazon’s upcoming second headquarters (HQ2) in Virginia: Alexandria and Arlington. This is according to the latest ranking of cities by Redfin Compete Score.” [Redfin]
County Hits Record Low Tax Delinquency — “Treasurer Carla de la Pava announced that the delinquency rate for real estate and personal property had fallen to 0.177 percent, down from 0.21 percent a year before and the lowest not just in county history, but perhaps the lowest ever among any jurisdiction in Virginia history.” [InsideNova]
AWLA Hosts Successful Adoption Event — “40 cats and 14 dogs found their forever homes at [Saturday’s] Clear The Shelters event! Thank you to everyone who found space in their hearts and homes for our animals today.” [Facebook]
Flickr pool photo by Erinn Shirley
SB Route 1 Blocked by Crash — Updated at 8:35 a.m. — Southbound Route 1 was blocked by a crash involving an overturned vehicle at 23rd Street in the Crystal City area. All lanes reopened shortly after 8 a.m. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Real Estate Still Hot — “In July, Arlington had the most brisk trip between listing and contract – just nine days – followed in the local region by Alexandria (10), Fairfax County (17), Falls Church (20), Loudoun County (23) and Prince William County (24).” [InsideNova]
AWLA Seeking Adoptions, Cheese — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is holding its annual “Clear the Shelters Day” event this Saturday, with adoption fees waived for all animals. Also, the league is seeking donations of Easy Cheese spray, which is used as a treat for dogs. [Facebook, Facebook]
If you like kittens and yoga, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has an event for you.
The shelter is hosting a yoga event this week for participants to get some exercise — and some feline playtime. Together with Arlington-based vinyasa yoga instructor Beth A. Wolfe, the shelter will host two yoga sessions this Thursday, August 15, where participants can do yoga while kittens romp around them.
“We will enjoy a casual yoga practice at the shelter while kittens roam among us,” organizers wrote on the event’s webpage. “There will be plenty of time allotted for kitten snuggling and photos.”
The event is for people ages 10 and up, and is designed to help find homes for the kittens, which will all be adoptable. Classes will be held at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. this Thursday at the shelter’s offices on 2650 S. Arlington Mill Drive.
Tickets sell for $35 each. Attendees are asked to bring their own yoga mat.
Wolfe is also leading the Arlington County Fair’s goat yoga sessions this week.
Image via Flickr/Quinn Dombrowski
Storms Expected Today — “Strong to locally severe thunderstorms are in the forecast Tuesday afternoon and evening, and the potential exists for this to be a significant severe weather event.” [Capital Weather Gang]
ACPD: Expect Police at Fair — “As in years past, the [Arlington County Fair] will have dedicated police staffing and resources and fairgoers can expect to see a visible police presence… There are no known threats to Arlington County, however, the public is encouraged to remain aware of your surroundings at all times.” [Arlington County]
Local Volunteer Firefighting Legacy — “Tucked inside the Clarendon fire station on N. 10th St. is a special closed-off room. By long-standing arrangement with the county, it is dedicated to honoring the station’s decades of reliance on volunteer firefighters. Today’s professionally staffed Fire Station 4 deploys ‘no active volunteers, but retains a volunteer presence.'” [Falls Church News-Press]
Hotel Near HQ2 Sells For Big Bucks — “Host Hotels & Resorts sold the Residence Inn Arlington Pentagon City, a 299-room high-rise property at 550 Army Navy Drive, for $99.1M in a deal that closed July 1, according to Arlington County property records.” [Bisnow]
Deer Rescued from Fence — “Last week, Officer Solano and several neighbors were able to safely untangle this juvenile deer from a soccer net in a resident’s backyard. The deer immediately ran away, uninjured, back into the woods nearby.” [Twitter]
Man Brings Loaded Shotgun to Pentagon — “A Kentucky man taken into custody at the Pentagon last week had a shotgun, ammunition and a machete in his pickup truck, according to court documents… While speaking to the officers, [the man] made ‘incoherent statements about being in the area for ‘liberty business.”” [Fox 5]
The Arlington County Fire Department will be kicking off a donation drive for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington this week.
Called “Operation FirePaws,” the annual event aims to gather donated pet supplies at fire stations for use by AWLA. This year, both the fire department and the shelter will be sharing safety tips with donors who drop off goodies, per a county press release.
Those interested in participating will be able to drop off supplies in donation bins in the lobby or outside of the county’s 10 fire stations. The fire houses will accept donations every day from this Thursday, August 1 to August 31, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Since the first drive in 2015, the county says people have donated more than 1,600 pounds of pet supplies.
AWLA shared a wish list of everything from food dispenser toys for dogs, to microwave heating pads for kittens, to plastic tarps and zip ties. However, the group is reminding residents that it cannot accept used beds, homemade treats, or milk bones.
Donation bins can be found at any of the following fire stations:
- Fire Station 1 (500 S. Glebe Road)
- Fire Station 2 (4805 Wilson Blvd.)
- Fire Station 3 (4100 Old Dominion Dr.)
- Fire Station 4 (3121 10th St. N.)
- Fire Station 5 (1750 S. Hayes St.)
- Fire Station 6 (6950 Little Falls Road)
- Fire Station 8 (4845 Lee Hwy.)
- Fire Station 9 (1900 S. Walter Reed Dr.)
- Fire Station 10 (1791 N. Quinn St.)
Images via Arlington County
Wild animals — especially young ones — were at an especially high risk of being orphaned by the storm because of the time of the year, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and staff say they rescued dozens of critters.
“After the flood water receded the wildlife calls started to come in,” said Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint.
“From deer who were in odd areas appearing disoriented to dozens of orphaned baby bird and squirrel calls,” she said. “It look about 3 days for our calls for wildlife to go back to the standard volumes we see this time of year. Unfortunately given the time of year many small unweaned animals were thrown from their nests and orphaned.”
Among the orphans were baby squirrel siblings, and a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. AWLA was able to care for them overnight, staff told ARLnow, and transfer them to a wildlife rescue organization that will hopefully be able to rehabilitate them for the wild.
“When we get in wildlife it is either re-released back into other wild, or we do triage care until we get a wildlife rehabilitator,” said AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones. Due to the call volume that Monday it was “all hands on deck” at AWLA, she said..
“I was present when the fire department aided a woman and her cat out of the flood waters in her basement and up to safety,” she said. “We brought that cat in here to AWLA for safekeeping, a free program we have for boarding animals in an emergency situation.”
She said residents were taking in each other’s pets to keep them safe, and directing first responders to check their elderly neighbors. Jones confirmed that the cat was able to return to its owner after five days of care at AWLA, and all wild animals rescued have been either re-released or transferred to a wildlife rehabilitation organization.
Toussaint said the kindness people showed each other “highlighted the true strength of community we have here in Arlington.”
“I stood in the home of a member of the public who had just lost everything — an inch of water on the floor of the first level, darkness filling the house as the power was cut for safety,” she said. “I listened to one of the captains from our fire department say, ‘I will not leave until I know you have a safe place to go and a plan.'”
Photos (1 and 2) courtesy Jennifer Toussaint, (3 and 4) courtesy Nicole Bender, (5 and 6) courtesy Brandon Jones
With many animals preparing to rear their young, the season of wildlife encounters is upon us, says the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint told ARLnow that service calls to her department typically increase this time of year. She shared some tips on making sure the encounters are safe for both humans and animals.
The Arlington County Board banned residents from owning “wild and exotic” animals as pets in 2017, but residents have documented many wild encounters over the years: including feral cat colonies, a coyote on the move, a construction-site turkey, booming bunny populations, and trash truck raccoon as well as school drain raccoon.
Overall, Toussaint said animal control officers receive about 3,500 calls for service annually, and about half those calls involve wild animals. “That tells me that that is a huge need the community has for my department,” she said.
One way she’s trying to meet that need is with public education events, like the one she held on Tuesday. It’s an opportunity to talk about animal-proofing one’s homes, and about dispelling old myths about normal animal behavior.
“I think most of the calls we get are genuine concern. They find a bird on the ground and it looks like a baby. They don’t know that most songbirds fledge from the nest and spend a few days on the ground building up the shoulder strength to fly,” she said, joking, “Cartoons lied to us as children!”
And the rule about not touching baby animals lest their scent changes and their parents abandon them? Also a myth, she says.
As for homeowners who prefer enjoying wildlife from a distance?
“A lot of it is pretty simple,” Toussaint says, “one of the main things is ensuring your home is impenetrable.”
Her tips include capping chimneys, and inspecting attics, eaves, roof siding, and trim regularly for any signs of wildlife.
Ensuring trash barrels stay closed with bungee cords, and clearing debris from yards also helps discourage animals from making homes or meals at people’s homes.
One thing she doesn’t recommend?
“We’re all kind of on top of each other here in Arlington, so I don’t promote people putting chemicals out,” said Toussaint. There are a number of safe, alternative remedies people can use for the problems they most often call about, she said.
For more questions, Toussaint recommends Arlingtonians check out the Humane Society’s species-specific website, or call animal control any time at 703-931-9241. Some animal-specific advice is below, after the jump.
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‘Walk for the Animals’ Tickets on Sale — “On Saturday, June 8, 2019 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m., AWLA invites you to Walk for the Animals and celebrate our 75th anniversary of improving the lives of animals in our community… $35 Early Bird registration until May 1 (includes Walk registration and t-shirt)” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington]
Traffic Enforcement in Clarendon — Arlington County Police conducted “high-visibility pedestrian enforcement at the intersection of N. Highland Street and Washington Boulevard as part of regional @COGStreetSmart campaign” yesterday afternoon. [Twitter, Twitter]
Arlington Resident Wins Lottery — “An Arlington man is $100,000 richer after playing a Cash 5 game he purchased at a store in the Fort Myer Heights neighborhood near Rosslyn recently.” [Patch]
Ebbin, Levine Endorse Parisa — State Sen. Adam Ebbin (D) and Del. Mark Levine (D) have endorsed Parisa Dehghani-Tafti, Democratic candidate for Commonwealth’s Attorney of Arlington County and the City of Falls Church. They join several other elected officials, including former Gov. Terry McAuliffe and former County Board member Walter Tejada, in endorsing the challenger in the Democratic primary. [Facebook, Blue Virginia]
Stamos’ Recent Endorsements — Earlier this month Commonwealth’s Attorney Theo Stamos announced endorsements from Arlington’s firefighter union and county treasurer Carla de la Pava in her bid for reelection, in addition to a litany of endorsements from other elected and former elected officials. [Facebook, Facebook]
Nearby: Aldi Coming to Bailey’s Crossroads — An Aldi grocery store will reportedly be replacing the former Babies R Us store at 5700 Columbia Pike, while a nearby Safeway store is said to be closing. [Annandale Blog]
Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is now opening adoption for dozens of rats and mice rescued from a hoarding case in the county earlier this month.
Animal control officers from AWLA seized 67 rats and mice from a home in the Rock Spring neighborhood on March 6, following a tip from a county agency involved with the situation, according to an Animal Welfare League spokeswoman Chelsea Jones.
Jones said the majority of the animals are now up for adoption from the Arlington Welfare League except for a few still being treated for upper respiratory infections — a common ailment in animals forced to live in overcrowded and unclean conditions.
Two of the rescued rats were “in very bad shape” with multiple tumors and had to be euthanized, Jones said, but not before staff baked them a dessert.
“They had a big ol’ cake they got to chew on,” Jones told ARLnow.
The animals’ owner has not been charged with any crimes, but was banned from owning any more “companion animals” as of March 13, according to the AWLA’s Chief of Animal Control.
Officers originally obtained a warrant to remove 18 of the domestic rats and mice from the woman’s house after she failed to improve the conditions, AWLA said. But when the officers entered the home on March 6 they found another 49 rodents, including two mice that had recently given birth to 20 babies.
There were so many animals that the Arlington organization had to ask Animal Welfare League of Alexandria to help re-home some of them.
The mice now available for adoption are a mix of grays and bright, unusual golds.
“We found out that they’re certain breed of mice called silky mice so they all have really shiny fur and interesting colors that you don’t see in the general mice you get from the pet store,” said Jones.
Photos courtesy of the Animal Welfare League of Arlington
New Hotel for DCA? — “A hotel might be in the works for Reagan National Airport, according to Jack Potter, CEO of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority… A spokeswoman for MWAA said they are still in the ideas phase and nothing is concrete.” [Washington Business Journal]
Parents Fight Proposed Key Changes — “Parents are battling for the school’s future after Arlington Public Schools surprised them with a plan to relocate Key [Elementary], an announcement that animated larger questions about race, class and the purpose of bilingual education.” [Washington Post]
APS Friday Closure Questioned — “Most schools in the DC region decided to stay open despite the wintry mix Friday morning, but Arlington County Public Schools decided to close leaving parents in disbelief.” [WJLA]
Kindergarteners Learn About Transgender — “Dozens of kindergarten students sat cross-legged in his classroom at Ashlawn Elementary School in Arlington, listening as an advocate for transgender rights paged through a children’s picture book about a transgender girl,” as part of an event with the National Education Association and the Human Rights Campaign. [Washington Post]
Chamber Partners with APS — “The Arlington Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce a partnership with Arlington Public Schools Career Center for the Young Entrepreneurs Academy (YEA!) program. The Chamber is in its fifth year of offering the YEA! Program, but this is its first class of students for the program as part of their Arlington Public Schools learning.” [Arlington Chamber of Commerce]
Dog With Dementia Falls into Storm Drain — “A small dog with dementia is missing after falling into a storm drain in Arlington, Virginia. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington tweeted out an alert Thursday and said the cute pup disappeared after falling into the sewer about 8 p.m.” [NBC Washington, Twitter]