On Wednesday we reported that a cat and her kittens were living on top of Gunston Middle School. Today we’re happy to report that the kittens have been successfully removed from the roof.
After a bit of an impasse with Arlington Public Schools officials, yesterday animal control officers from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington were able to find a way to safely get to the roof, capture the kittens and get them back down from the roof.
AWLA detailed the process in a Facebook post last night.
We are happy to report that the kittens have been safely removed from the roof and are in our care here at the shelter!
We were made aware of this little family after a young student saw the kittens outside his classroom window and called the shelter. The mother cat was able to freely come and go from the flat roof, and had decided that it was the safest spot for her kittens!
Because the mother cat is feral, we needed to wait to remove her kittens until they were old enough to eat on their own and not rely on her for survival. Typically our officers do not climb onto roofs for safety reasons, but after we were informed that there was a secured ladder on the side of the building, the officers knew they had to help. And so Operation Roof Kitten Rescue began!
Officers Corcoran, Solano and Dispatcher Barrett were able to capture the fearful kittens in a net and transfer them to a carrier. They created a harness made of leashes so that Officer Solano could “wear” the carrier as she descended the ladder.
The kittens are now the perfect age for socializing: old enough to eat on their own, but young enough to learn to enjoy human contact. They will now go to a foster home until they are old enough and friendly enough for adoption. Thank you to everyone who assisted us in this rescue!
What will happen to the kittens’ mother? AWLA also answered that on the Facebook post.
When it comes to feral kittens there’s a delicate balance between leaving them with their mothers vs taking them into the shelter. If we leave them with the mother until they are completely grown and leave her on their own, they will be too old to socialize and adopt out – they will be feral like their mother, and then those kittens will grow and have more kittens of their own, leading to a larger and larger population of feral cats in the area. The officers and shelter staff feel that it’s in the best interests of the mother and kittens to remove them at this time. As stated above, the officers are looking options for the mother cat. We can assure you that the welfare of both the kittens and mother are what we are most concerned about.
The feline family recently took up residence on the school’s roof, apparently after the cat climbed a tree to get there.
Both APS and AWLA want to get the cat and kittens down from the roof, but are still formulating a plan for how to do it.
“We think that the mother cat is feral, and we want to capture the kittens while they are young enough to be socialized,” said AWLA’s Susan Sherman. “Once the kittens are old enough to get down from the roof on their own, they will likely be too old to socialize.”
Sherman said an AWLA animal control officer has been to the school “several times” to talk to officials from the school and the attached Gunston Community Center. One sticking point is deciding who’s going to go up on the roof. School workers don’t want to get attacked by the cat and animal control officers don’t want to play Spiderman.
“We offered to assist the school facilities people to set a humane trap on the roof, but they said the mother cat might attack them,” Sherman explained. “Our officers do not climb up on roofs. The part of the roof the cats are on is flat, and we requested access from classroom windows but the school facilities person told us the windows cannot be unscrewed or removed.”
“We are working on a plan to capture the kittens as soon as possible but want to do it in a way that is safe for the cats and people,” she said.
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
The organization is asking anyone who has had contact — or whose pet has had contact — with the raccoon to call them.
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. An animal control officer picked up a dead raccoon in the 1800 block of N. Underwood Street near Benjamin Banneker Park on March 21. When it was sent for testing, the raccoon was positive for rabies. 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.
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
According to an unnamed witness, a fox apparently attacked a couple pushing a stroller on N. Glebe Road in the Chain Bridge Forest neighborhood, near the northern tip of Arlington.
Animal control officers would like to talk to the victims and are trying to locate the fox.
From an Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman:
Arlington County Animal Control is seeking information regarding a fox incident that occurred Tuesday, 2/2/16 in the 4400 block of North Glebe Road at approximately 11am.
A witness saw a man and a woman with a stroller who may have been attacked by a fox in the street. The man tried to scare the fox away and may have been bitten. Animal Control has posted flyers in the neighborhood.
If you have any information regarding this incident, please contact animal control immediately at 703-931-9241. In addition, if you see a fox acting abnormally in this area, please contact us.
A small cluster of fox attacks in the area close to the Arlington/McLean border have occurred. On Monday night two people were attacked by a fox on the Custis Trail at North Nelson Street.
Fairfax County police have also reported that a fox bit and scratched a woman in the 1400 block of Laburnum Street in McLean.
Update at 11 a.m. Wednesday — Pumpkin Pie was found last night after authorities were able to act on a tip quickly enough to catch her near an apartment building in south Arlington.
Harry Puente-Duany thanked the ARLnow.com readers for their support and help in finding Pumpkin Pie so quickly after this article was published. He said except for some scrapes and her being a bit underweight, Pumpkin Pie is healthy and safe at home.
Earlier: An Arlington resident is asking the community to keep their eyes out for his dog, which went missing more than a week ago.
Pumpkin Pie is a seven-year-old American Pit Bull Terrier mix who ran away from her home near Virginia Square last Sunday evening, Dec. 6. She has a white and light brown coat and is described as very timid.
According to her owner, Harry Puente-Duany, Pumpkin Pie was first spotted north of his home toward Lee Highway and Old Dominion Drive on the night she ran away. Since then, sightings have been reported in parts of South Arlington.
Most recently, Pumpkin Pie was seen on Sunday afternoon in Claremont near the Four Mile Run Trail.
“We’re kind of stuck right now praying for another lead,” Puente-Duany said. “She’s on the move, but we don’t know where she’s headed.”
Puente-Duany rescued Pumpkin Pie about five years ago from the Animal Welfare League of Arlington shelter. He added she can be finicky and very afraid of people because her previous owner treated her poorly.
Despite his dog being missing for several days, Puente-Duany is staying optimistic.
“The fact that we’ve continued to have sightings has helped me to remain hopeful,” he said. “It makes be believe she’s still out there, on the move and safe, for the most part. She could be going anywhere next, but I’m trying to continue to keep the faith.”
Puente-Duany said all the sightings so far have been reports of Pumpkin Pie running down a street or through wooded areas, suggesting she’s scared and spending most of her time running away or hiding out of sight.
He asks that anyone who sees Pumpkin Pie doesn’t chase her or call after her, or risk scaring her more or encouraging to run further away.
“If possible, give us a call and try to keep an eye on her,” he added. “People have been very active doing that so far, but it’s been hard to keep track of her. I’m still amazed by the amount of support from people in Arlington, giving me suggestions and letting me know they’re on the lookout. It’s been so encouraging.”
If anyone sees Pumpkin Pie, they can call Puente-Duany at 301-467-0433 or Animal Control at 703-931-9241.
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]
GMU: Housing Crunch Coming — The D.C. area is not building housing fast enough to accommodate new residents and jobs, according to a report by the George Mason University Center for Regional Analysis. By 2023, there will be 226,380 fewer housing units in Greater Washington than needed to house those moving to area, thus forcing people to move farther away from the city. [Washington Business Journal]
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