Arlington, VA

With FRK9 Brooks as its mascot, the Arlington County Police Department is hosting a “Fill the Cruiser” pet supply drive to benefit the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

“FRK9 Brooks has a case of puppy love and is asking for your help ensuring his furry valentines at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington have the supplies they need,” a press release said. “For more than 75 years, AWLA has served the Arlington community with animal sheltering and control services to help pet owners keep their animals healthy, happy, and home.”

The drive, this Friday, Feb. 12 from 2-5 p.m., will be held at a contactless, drive-through donation station set up outside the Animal Welfare League of Arlington on the 2600 block of S. Arlington Mill Drive.

FRK9 Brooks, who turned one in November, is being trained for this. A police service dog, his responsibilities include participating in community outreach events and helping officers deal with “strong emotions and stress that are often an inherent part of policing,” ACPD said back in August.

Suggested donations include cleaning supplies, treats, Vienna sausages, Easy Cheese, toys, pill pockets, leashes, and buckle collars. A full list of supplies AWLA can accept is available on its website.

AWLA cannot accept pillows, sheets, comforters, plastic dishes, used cat scratchers, towers, trees and litter boxes, used or extra-large dog beds or prescription medications.

On arriving, participants are asked to stay in their cars until they reach the unloading areas. Officers will be on-hand to remove donations from their vehicles.

There will be a separate area available for those arriving by bike or on foot.

Photos #1-3 from the file, photo #4 via Arlington County 

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As if the pandemic wasn’t bad enough, there’s now an apparent rabies outbreak in Arlington County.

Two days after the county warned of a possible rabies exposure in the East Falls Church neighborhood, animal control has captured two additional raccoons “showing neurological signs consistent with rabies.”

The raccoons were both captured in residential north Arlington neighborhoods: one on the 4300 block of 37th Road N., in the Old Glebe neighborhood near Glebe Road Park and the Gulf Branch Nature Center, and another on the 5100 block of 37th Road N., in the Rock Spring neighborhood near Williamsburg Middle School.

“On February 4, 2021, Arlington County Animal Control responded to two separate incidents for raccoons,” the county said in a press release. “Both of the raccoons in these incidents were captured and removed by animal control; both raccoons were showing neurological signs consistent with rabies. One of these raccoons may have had contact with two pets.”

“This outbreak is no longer contained to a specific neighborhood,” the press release warned, also citing the East Falls Church incident from Jan. 30, in which a rabid raccoon came into contact with a pet.

“We are urging residents in North Arlington to be vigilant,” said Kurt Larrick, a county spokesman. “We ask that residents ensure their pets are up to date on their rabies vaccines, keep their dogs on a leash, keep cats inside, remain vigilant and alert, and do not approach or interact with any wild animals.”

Rabies, as described in the press release, “is a disease that people and animals can catch from the bite or scratch of infected animals. It is fatal if medical care is not given promptly.”

“If you, your child, or your pet may have come into contact with any wild animals including bats or raccoons, please call Arlington County Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately,” the press release says. “If calling after hours, please stay on the line to speak with the answering service who will alert an Officer. If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive, do NOT approach the animal and please call Animal Control immediately.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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The Arlington man accused of throwing dogs over an apartment balcony to their death would potentially not serve additional jail time under a proposed plea agreement.

The agreement, dated December 7,  is signed by the Commonwealth Attorney’s Office, but not by the defendant or by his court-appointed attorney Adam Krischer.

ARLnow reached out to Krischer about the status of the agreement, who responded via email that he has no comment. We obtained a copy of the document upon request from the Arlington County Circuit Court, after receiving an anonymous tip about the potential plea agreement.

On January 5, according to documents provided, 27-year-old Zachary changed his “not guilty” plea to “guilty” — while asserting his innocence, in what is known as an Alford plea — for the charge of animal cruelty.

(ARLnow has decided to withhold the defendant’s last name from this article, despite it being publicly reported in previous articles, due to the mental health-related matters discussed in the plea agreement.)

The judge approved the plea and set the sentencing for February 12. The judge also required the defendant to undergo a substance abuse screening prior to sentencing.

Animal cruelty is a felony offense that carries a 1-5 year prison sentence and a fine of up to $2,500. The proposed plea agreement, however, calls for defer disposition for two years, meaning the plea to the felony charge could be withdrawn and dismissed if the defendant adheres to certain conditions.

According to the agreement, those conditions include completing substance abuse evaluation and treatment, undergoing mental health evaluation and counseling, remaining medication compliant, and completing 100 hours of community service.

The defendant also has to remain drug and alcohol free, refrain from owning any animals, and not to have any unsupervised contact with animals beyond those owned by family members.

Additionally, he has to pay restitution of about $1,800, including payments to the owner of one of the dogs that was killed and $567.29 to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

If Zachary does all of that, the proposed plea agreement states, the Commonwealth and the defendant will jointly ask the court to withdraw the guilty plea and provide an order of dismissal. If the defendant doesn’t adhere to the above conditions, he could be sent to prison.

Commonwealth’s Attorney Parisa Dehghani-Taft was elected in 2019 to be Arlington’s top prosecutor on a platform of reform and restorative justice. In an interview with Arlington Magazine last March, Dehghani-Taft said that the concept of restorative justice is about healing and taking responsibility.

“It asks the person who did the harm to search for change and transforms them into someone who doesn’t do it again,” she said. “It focuses on rehabilitation rather than punishment.”

It’s a concept that also has gained popularity in other local jurisdictions.

When asked for comment about the plea agreement, Dehghani-Taft responded via email that rules “constrains me from making public statements about pending cases… Because the court has not yet accepted any plea, it could be seen as prejudicial for me to say something now.”

In a follow-up email, she stated that “I think the terms in the document the court has published are self-explanatory.”

A statement of facts about the case entered in court describes the April 27, 2020 incident in more detail.

Police responded to a call about two dogs being thrown off a fifth floor balcony of the Meridian apartment building at 1401 N. Taft Street in Courthouse. One belonged to the defendant and the other to his roommate. Both dogs were brought to veterinary facilities and later died from their injuries.

Zachary was detained without incident, but told the officers that he was diagnosed with anxiety and had not been taking his medication. He also said that he had recently smoked marijuana.

The reason for his actions, he told police, was that he wanted to repair his relationship with his roommate and felt the only way to do that was to kill the dogs.

Police spoke to the roommate and Zachary’s boyfriend, who both described the defendant as not acting like his normal self over the prior several days and possibly having a severe mental health crisis at the time.

Photo via Google Maps

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A potentially rabid raccoon with a taste for human flesh is on the loose in the Donaldson Run neighborhood.

The raccoon bit a person last week on the 4200 block of 25th Street N., two blocks from Taylor Elementary School, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. It ran off and “has not been located.”

Two other raccoons with rabies-like symptoms have been removed from the neighborhood by animal control officers over the past month, AWLA said.

Arlington residents, particularly those in the Donaldson Run area, are being encouraged to remain vigilant.

“If you or your pet may have come into contact with any wild animals including bats or raccoons, please call Arlington County Animal Control at 703-931-9241 immediately, after hours please stay on the line to speak with the answering service who will alert an officer,” the organization said last night in a statement.

“If you see a raccoon that appears sick, lethargic, disoriented, or aggressive, do NOT approach the animal and please call Animal Control immediately: 703-931-9241.”

Flickr pool photo by John Sonderman

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Morning Notes

BBC Airs Segment on AFAC — The Arlington Food Assistance Center, which is seeing record food need and lines throughout the day, was profiled in a segment that aired on BBC World News this week. [Twitter]

Fares to Return on ART Buses — “ART buses will resume front door boarding and fare collection starting on Sunday, January 3, 2021. Riders will begin boarding buses through the front door and will pay their fare at the fare box using a SmarTrip card or exact change. The regular ART bus fare for a one-way trip is $2.00.” [Arlington Transit]

Teens Launch Hot Cocoa Company — “In July, Wakefield High School rising seniors Farah Bahr and Sithiya Reshmee (who goes by the nickname ‘Resh’) founded F&R Sweets, a line that includes chocolate-dipped strawberries, churro cheesecake (made with croissant dough, cream cheese filling and cinnamon sugar) and hot chocolate bombs… the bombs ($3-$10 each) grabbed my attention. They are bonbon-like orbs filled with mini marshmallows, Swiss Miss cocoa mix (regular, caramel or peppermint) and sometimes other add-ins.” [Arlington Magazine]

AWLA Treats Dog With Skin Condition — “On Sunday, we were very surprised when a brown-eyed dog with a severe skin infection and hair loss came through our doors. He desperately needs us, and together we can start him on the path to healing. Rufus was found all alone on the side of the road and was brought to AWLA for help.” [Animal Welfare League of Arlington, Patch]

Fort Myer Bowling Alley Back Open — “The [Joint Base Myer-Henderson Hall] Bowling Center had a small grease fire last week that temporarily shut down operations. Today, the fire department and health inspections were completed and they were given approval to re-open at 2 p.m.” [Twitter]

Arlington is Soldier’s Resting Place, At Last — “An Army sergeant from Panama, Oklahoma who was killed during the Korean War has been identified by the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency,” from the 55 boxes containing remains of American service members turned over by North Korea in 2018. “Rodgers will be buried at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Virginia, at a later date that has yet to be determined.” [Times Record]

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Coyotes have been known to roam around Arlington, but sightings of the bashful wild canines are relatively rare.

Nonetheless, a coyote is causing a stir in the Fairlington area after being spotted multiple times around the neighborhood, according to posts on a local Facebook group.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, which runs the county’s animal control operation, says it’s aware of the coyote sightings. The animal’s behavior, however, is so far not sounding any alarm bells.

“[We] received three calls from the public yesterday about a coyote spotted behind Abington Elementary School,” AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones told ARLnow last night. “All the calls reported the coyote was exhibiting normal behavior, and by the time [an animal control officer] arrived the coyote was gone.”

“Coyotes do live in Arlington County, although sighting are typically rare,” Jones said. “They pose no threat to humans. We do, as always, recommend keeping your pets inside when not supervised, for this, and many other reasons.”

The last time we reported on an instance of a coyote spotted out in the open in Arlington was five years ago, when one was photographed along Washington Blvd.

“These animals learn to live next to humans and not mess with humans,” Arlington Natural Resource Manager Alonso Abugattas told ARLnow.com in 2014. “There have been cases, however, where feral cats and loose dogs, coyotes will occasionally eat a smaller dog, both as a competitor and as prey. Cats are considered prey as well. That’s the only way that they might affect the public.”

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Even COVID-19 could not stop an opportunity for adorable pet photos around the holidays.

During two weekends in November, local pet owners can get family portraits ready for seasons-greetings cards with the holiday edition of Porch Portraits, a pandemic-proof fundraiser by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

“Have a holiday pajama party, bring out your favorite party looks, deck your pet in their holiday gear, any holiday fun you’d like to capture,” the announcement from AWLA said.

The organization has hosted holiday “Pet Pawtrait” sessions before, but this year will look different: The event will span three days and will be socially distanced. Sessions will take about 10 minutes, with a minimum donation of $100, and participants will receive at least three professional digital images within 10 days.

As holidays approach and the pandemic continues, AWLA is focused on supporting the community as people cope with job losses, including via its pet pantry and veterinary support, AWLA Events Coordinator Hollie Dickman said.

“We never want food or resources to stand in the way of people keeping their pet,” she said. “We want to keep pets with the people who love them as much as we can, especially during holidays and COVID-19.”

Sessions are open for Nov. 14, 21 and 22 and participants must be residents of Arlington or Alexandria. Registration for sessions on Nov. 14 end Sunday, while registration for the weekend of Nov. 21-22 ends next Sunday, Nov. 15.

Participants select the date, but AWLA will coordinate times so photographers can do back-to-back sessions in the same neighborhood. Times may range from 8 to 11 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.

Those who want to notify AWLA of times that do not work for them are asked to contact Dickman at [email protected]

Participants must have a porch in front of their house or an outdoor area, such as a park, in front of their condo or apartment complex where pictures can be taken.

All portraits will be taken from a 6-foot distance with no direct contact between the photographer and the household, the announcement said.

Local photographers Mike Leonard, Jeremy Robin and Erinn Shirley will be taking the portraits.

This is the second socially-distant porch portrait session AWLA has run to raise funds this year. The first occurred in May, two months into mandated restrictions due to COVID-19.

Leonard had been doing porch portraits during the pandemic and asked to donate his services to AWLA as a fundraiser, Dickman said. The impromptu fundraiser generated $3,000 from 25 participating families.

“I thought that was a great success,” she said. “We are anticipating a similar turnout, we hope to see that $3,000 raised again.”

Family portraits courtesy of Hollie Dickman. Christmas dog (top) via AWLA/Facebook.

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Morning Notes

Courthouse Wendy’s Project Changing — “A new developer appears to be taking over a Carr Properties’ project in Arlington’s Courthouse neighborhood, queuing up a switch from office to residential in the process. Greystar Real Estate Partners filed new plans with Arlington County earlier this month for a triangular parcel at the confluence of Clarendon and Wilson boulevards… [for] a 16-story residential building with 225 units above 4,000 square feet of ground-floor retail.” [Washington Business Journal]

Opera at Local Farmers Market — Two operatic performance will be held at the Crystal City farmers market this afternoon. The Washington National Opera performances will take place from a converted moving truck. [Facebook, WUSA 9]

Airports See Big Revenue Drop — “The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has seen its year-to-date revenue from airlines decline more than 23 percent, according to new figures, with revenue from sources indirectly related to aviation service declining 46 percent.” [InsideNova]

Dog Hit By Car Gets Second Chance — Thanks to efforts by the Animal Welfare League of Arlington and three other groups, a puppy named Cash had a broken leg, suffered after being struck by a car, saved from amputation. [Facebook]

Alexandria Releases Contact Tracing Info — Alexandria just released an analysis of its contact tracing findings, showing the most common recent activities reported by those diagnosed with COVID-19. Among the top activities reported by COVID patients: living with someone who contracted the disease and going to a workplace. Relatively few reported recently dining outdoors. Arlington has yet to release similar information. [City of Alexandria, Twitter]

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(Updated at 5:10 p.m.) The Animal Welfare League of Arlington says it has taken in the fourth abandoned dog in a month.

In the latest incident, a dog was found abandoned in a crate in the Ashton Heights neighborhood, at the intersection of 6th Street N. and N. Jackson Street. The dog was “in poor condition” and AWLA is now asking for the public’s help in locating its owner.

A similar dog abandonment happened about a week prior in the Arlington Mill neighborhood, though the incidents are all believed to be unrelated. A spokeswoman said the recent spate of abandonments is “very unusual.”

“We normally see about 2-5 per year, mostly commonly left behind in a residence after eviction,” said AWLA’s Chelsea Jones. “So on top of this being a much higher number than we typically see, it’s also an unusual manner of abandonment.”

The league says that hardship related to the pandemic may be causing desperate situations for some pet owners. AWLA is encouraging those with no where else to turn to contact them for help.

More from the animal welfare league:

On October 1st of this year, we took in the fourth abandoned dog we have responded to in a month. Our Animal Control team received a call from a concerned resident who found a dog in poor condition abandoned in a crate at 6th St N and N Jackson St in Arlington. Officer Byrnes immediately brought the dog to the shelter, and the rest of the team canvassed the area but was unable to find an owner or any involved persons. If you recognize this dog, please call our Animal Control team at (703) 931-9241.

Our staff has decided to call this sweet girl Willow. The dog that was abandoned the week before has been named Charleston. These dogs are two of four abandonment cases we have responded to recently, and while we know that hearing about these cases can be upsetting, even angering, we would like to ask our supporters to help us send a message of support to pet owners who may be struggling in these extremely difficult times.

We are very aware that as the pandemic goes on, more and more people are going to struggle to pay their expenses and care for their families. We are also aware that many people don’t know that there is help available to them when it comes to their pets or worry that if they surrender a pet to a shelter they will be judged, or have to pay a fee they cannot afford. We need your help to remind every member of our community that we are here to help. AWLA can provide food, supplies, vaccinations, and more to pet owners in need. We are here as a judgement-free organization to talk about any issues pet owners may be having.

Please do not hesitate to reach out for a helping hand. We are always available.

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Local animal control officials are still trying to figure out who abandoned a dog in the Arlington Mill neighborhood.

On Monday the Animal Welfare League of Arlington posted photos of an emaciated dog that was left in a crate and placed “in a hidden location” near a parking lot. The organization also posted surveillance photos of a pickup truck from which the dog was unloaded, in the hopes of getting tips from the public about the incident.

More from a Facebook post:

Do you recognize this dog or vehicle? Please let us know!

On September 24, 2020 at around 8pm, the vehicle in the photos below drove to the 5000 block of 7th Rd S in Arlington, VA, removed a crate from the rear the car, and placed it in a hidden location on private property. The next morning, on September 25, a member of the public found the dog and called our Animal Control team. The dog was underweight, suffering from parasites, had no protection from the elements and no access to food or water.

If you have any information regarding this dog or vehicle, please contact Animal Control immediately at 703-931-9241.

Abandonment of an animal is a Class 1 Misdemeanor in the State of Virginia. Please know that we are here as a resource for pet owners in need, with our pet food pantry and other community resources. We are also always available to receive animals should owners be unable to continue to care for them, free of charge and without judgement.

As of last night, an AWLA spokeswoman said animal control officers were still awaiting tips.

“At this time we have not received any info on the dog or vehicle, although we have received lots of welcome support from the public,” said Chelsea Jones. “We hope to get a lead, but either way, we hope to put him up for adoption soon.”

Jones added that the dog has not officially been given a name yet, “but I think we are leaning towards naming him Charleston.”

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