Samuel Wolbert is the new president and CEO at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.
Prior to joining AWLA, Wolbert worked at a shelter near Lexington, Kentucky. Before that he was a legislative attorney for a nonprofit organization in Michigan.
“I am very thrilled to be here. I think we have a great organization. I look forward to continue working with the community to help grow it,” Wolbert told ARLnow.
The league’s former CEO, Neil Trent, had led the organization since 2010.
Wolbert currently has a dog and two cats and also has experience with fostering animals. He reports having a soft spot for senior animals and so-called bully breeds.
As far as his future goals for AWLA, Wolbert plans to start a monthly series highlighting the organization’s successes.
“I think the community can expect that we’ll continue to do what’s best for the animals and we’ll continue to improve the lives of animals, not just in the shelter but in the community,” Wolbert said.
AWLA is hosting an event next week for the public to meet the new CEO and mingle with other animal lovers. It will run from 5-8 p.m. on Tuesday (October 10) at New District Brewing Company (2709 S. Oakland Street). Those who are interested in attending can RSVP online for the free event.
A Falls Church couple is searching frantically for their missing dog, which disappeared last week in Arlington under some strange circumstances.
Solange and Craig Bone said they left their dog Sookie with a dog-sitter on N. Frederick Street in Waycroft-Woodlawn while they went out of town. They returned around 5 p.m. on Thursday, August 17, only to be greeted by the news that Sookie had disappeared earlier that day at around noon.
Solange Bone said they began putting fliers up immediately, and received phone calls from people nearby who said they had seen Sookie going along N. George Mason Drive, near Virginia Hospital Center.
Three days later, Bone said they received a call from a woman who said Sookie crossed Lee Highway on August 17 and walked to the area of N. Dickerson Street, where she was cornered by two good Samaritans.
But then, Bone said, when someone went inside to grab a leash for the dog, a man appeared and began to hold the dog. He then allegedly got into his car and drove away with her.
The man is described as being Hispanic and in his late 50s or early 60s, wearing thick black-rimmed glasses. He had a medium build and was driving a brown Toyota Camry or Corolla.
Bone said they have tried everything to get Sookie back, from putting up fliers to alerting local animal shelters, sending out automated calls and hiring a dog tracker to try and follow her scent. Bone said it is complicated by the fact that her collar has been removed.
“Literally, we haven’t slept,” Bone said. “We’ve been looking for her non-stop since we found out.”
Bone added that the Arlington County Police Department took a report on the case, but were unlikely to do more as the department typically does not search for missing pets. ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage confirmed Bone’s account of events, but had no further information.
There have not been additional sightings since the one in the Yorktown neighborhood, Bone said. The couple is offering a $1,500 reward to anyone who has any information on Sookie’s whereabouts.
Bone said that she is most concerned with getting her dog back, and is not as interested in punishing anyone who might have taken her, accidentally or otherwise.
“I don’t want to couch it as she’s been stolen or anything like that,” Bone said. “I just want her safe return. I just want whoever it is to just, no questions asked, we just want her back.”
Anyone with any information is asked to call 949-606-2598.
Photo No. 3 via Google Maps.
The attack happened Wednesday night as the woman was on her patio with her dog. A neighbor described the woman “screaming and flailing around,” then “spraying down the blood stains on her patio” the next day, with a bandaged foot and arm.
This latest incident follows two other bloody raccoon attacks last year, which set a Facebook page for Fairlington residents abuzz. Now, residents are calling Fairlington’s trash policies into question.
Rather than using trash cans, condo association rules call for Fairlington residents to put trash bags out in front of their buildings in the mornings, for pick up 6 days a week. The trash is picked up later in the morning, but often after birds, squirrels and other critters (rarely raccoons, which are nocturnal) start clawing at the food inside the bags, spreading the contents on the ground. And that’s not to mention the times when residents heading out of town or simply flaunting condo rules will put trash out at night, an almost sure-fire way to ensure wildlife gets to it before the trash collectors.
“The Arlington Animal Welfare League says they will not attempt to remove the raccoon because there is an underlying problem in our neighborhood related to the trash,” said a neighbor of the woman who was attacked last week, in a widely-discussed Facebook post. “No other part of Arlington has as many raccoons as our lovely Fairlington. To address the problem, the Head of Animal Control suggested closed trash cans that could still be picked up daily, and could be tasteful and wooden and raccoon proof.”
“I think this is something we should advocate for,” the neighbor continued. “Until the trash situation is sorted out, the raccoon population will remain high, most likely leading to more attacks.”
In a letter from the Fairlington Villages condominium association, one of several in the larger Fairlington neighborhood, general manager Colin Horner blamed habitat loss and said residents should not feed birds nor feed their pets outside.
“Wild animals are very bold these days. This is because their territories are shrinking,” Horner wrote. “Wooded areas where wildlife resides are being destroyed to make way for human expansion. As a result, animals are being forced out into the open to search for food and lodging.”
Horner urged residents to only put out trash between 6-9 a.m., saying that “the availability of food from trash left out overnight has been singled out as a primary cause for the increase in the raccoon population,” but added that “a review of the trash policy is a current item on the Board agenda.”
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, meanwhile, said it is “actively managing this case.”
“Animal control officers were unable to the locate the suspect raccoon,” said Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Toussaint. “We are actively managing this case and ask that anyone with direct knowledge relating to this incident or anyone who sees a raccoon acting abnormally or coming close to residences in this area contact animal control immediately at 703-931-9241.”
Photo (top) courtesy Lilia Ward via Facebook
Clarendon Animal Care will soon have more space for its four-legged clients.
The veterinary business opened in January 2015. Two and a half years later, it is continuing to grow and is set to expand to the space next door, said Dr. Kayleen Gloor, one of its founders.
The office’s expansion, into the former storefront of a sign shop, will increase its space by 70 percent. It will go from having three exam rooms to five exam rooms, while there will also be a larger reception area and more spacious treatment spaces. The center is also planning to add a fifth veterinarian to its team by the end of this month.
“[The expansion] was out of need,” Gloor said. “I have a hard time saying ‘no’ to [animals] that need to be seen.”
Gloor believes that the fifth vet and added space will make things less stressful for the office’s staff, as they will be better able to share the workload.
“I think our and our staff’s families will appreciate a little better work/life balance,” Gloor said.
Gloor said she hopes for the construction to be over and the new space ready to use by early next month.
Disclosure: Clarendon Animal Care is an ARLnow.com advertiser.
The latest attack happened Sunday night on the 4800 block of 28th Street S.
“Last night my husband and I were in our living room when we heard HORRIFIC screams coming from outside,” a resident wrote. “We went outside and learned a woman was being attacked by a ‘cute’ raccoon. The paramedics were called.”
Raccoons usually don’t attack humans unless they are rabid or defending their young. So far, authorities have not warned about the Fairlington raccoons potentially being rabid, although victims have received rabies shots.
The latest attack followed another incident in June, in which a raccoon attacked a woman and her dog, prompting a community meeting. That attack was said to be the result of a raccoon defending its young against the dog.
A third raccoon attack in Fairlington was reported last August.
Sunday’s attack came just two days after a nearby resident posted photos of a raccoon family of five on her third floor balcony; reaction to the photos was split between those who found the raccoons adorable and those who found the encounter terrifying.
WJLA’s Stephen Tschida reported on the attack during last night’s 11 p.m. news broadcast. Two raccoons “jumped on [the victim] and mauled and scratched her head, arm, and her leg,” Tschida reported. The broadcast showed a photo of a raccoon attack victim with numerous deep, bloody gouges on her arm.
Since the attack was first reported, at least one other raccoon sighting has been posted to Facebook.
“We were just walking our dog and spotted two raccoons in the parking lot where our neighbor was attacked yesterday,” a resident wrote. “They were on the front porch of a building and weren’t even bothered by the porch lights. One of them made a loud screeching sound then they scurried away. Please be careful if you are outside!”
“Something needs to be done,” said another resident in response, echoing the sentiment of others. However, the Facebook chatter has split those who want the raccoons to be trapped and euthanized and those seeking a more humane solution.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington, meanwhile, says it is encouraging the management of Fairlington’s condo associations to re-examine its trash collection system. Currently, residents are instructed to leave bags of trash out in front of their homes in the morning for collection. Still, some ignore the instructions and take out the trash at night.
“The latest attack involved raccoons foraging in trash bags that were left out at night for pickup the following day,” said AWLA’s Susan Sherman. “We have advised Fairlington’s management that the way to curb future attacks is to make sure that all trash is secured in closed bins rather than being left on the curb in plastic bags.”
“Residents should keep their distance from wildlife and should keep their immediate outdoor area free of attractions such as trash, pet food, and bird feeders,” Sherman added.
AWLA is also directing residents to a recap of the July meeting it held in Fairlington on the topic of human and wildlife interactions.
Photo (bottom) by Lilia Ward
The dog, naturally, went after the critters. The raccoon mom fought back. The woman tried to intervene to protect her dog. Her screams alerted neighbors, who found her bloodied with big gashes on her arm. Medics, police and animal control were called, and the woman was taken to the hospital for treatment and rabies shots.
“Our Animal Control officers were called about this situation, and responded to the location with the Police Department,” confirmed Animal Welfare League of Arlington spokeswoman Chelsea Lindsey. “They searched but could not find the raccoon. We think the raccoon may have had babies with her, and become protective when she was confronted by the dog and then the dog’s owner.”
The incident has some Fairlington residents on edge, wondering if such an attack could happen to them or their pets. The raccoon, after all, is still on the loose.
On Tuesday, July 5, at 7 p.m. AWLA will be holding a community meeting “to discuss and advise residents on interaction and conflicts with wildlife.” The meeting is being held at the Fairlington Villages Community Center (3005 S. Abingdon Street).
“This meeting is being held in light of the injury recently suffered by a resident resulting from an encounter with a raccoon,” says the event’s Facebook page.
Lindsey said that it’s somewhat rare for raccoons to attack dogs or humans, but it does happen.
In September 2013, ARLnow.com reported on a pregnant woman who was repeatedly bitten by an aggressive raccoon in her East Falls Church backyard, as her daughter watched in horror.
“We get reports of raccoons in altercations with dogs somewhat regularly, but contact with people is rare,” she said. “In the last 12 months we have had one other report of a raccoon bite to a person in Fairlington, and it was in August 2015.”
“Healthy raccoons are unlikely to pick a fight with a dog, but dogs sometimes chase them, and sick/injured raccoons and mothers protecting their young may fight back to defend itself,” Lindsey said. “AWLA highly recommends making sure to feed your dog inside (as food left outdoors can attract raccoons) and not to allow your dog in your yard or outdoors without immediate supervision. We also recommend that all dogs (and cats) have an up-to-date rabies vaccine, as is required by state law.”
“While raccoons are primarily nocturnal and residents won’t typically see them during the day, it is not that unusual for them to roam outside during the day looking for food or sunning themselves,” Lindsey added. “It is best to simply leave raccoons alone if you see them outside. However, if one appears to be sick (staggering, walking in circles, falling, biting itself, salivating heavily), injured or if you find a deceased raccoon on your property, we recommend calling Animal Control immediately so they can investigate.”
Photo by Bastique via Wikipedia
County Board Debate Preaches to Choir — Arlington County Board candidates Libby Garvey and Erik Gutshall participated in a debate Sunday night. Reported the Washington Post: “Nearly all the 50 people in the Campbell Elementary School audience Sunday night were campaign workers or committed supporters for each candidate.” In a new line of attack, Gutshall criticized Garvey for a $250 donation from a real estate developer she accepted in 2011. [Washington Post, Blue Virginia]
Campaign Criticism Prompts Reactions — Supporters of County Board candidate Erik Gutshall have penned a joint statement defending some of his attacks on Libby Garvey as substantive policy issues. However, there appears to be something of a backlash to two of Gutshall’s campaign mailers — at least among those who write letters to the Sun Gazette. County Board member Christian Dorsey, meanwhile, has published a statement on what he says is a “mischaracterization” of Garvey’s (and thus, the Board’s) record. [Blue Virginia, InsideNova, Facebook]
Elementary School’s Satellite Located — Two students from Morehead State University have located the “Cubesat” satellite created by students at St. Thomas More Elementary School in Arlington. The satellite was launched into orbit from the International Space Station but, for a few weeks, nobody was able to make contact with it. [Daily Independent]
Update on Rescued Baby Ducks — The six ducklings rescued from an Arlington storm drain are doing well and are undergoing rehabilitation, with the goal of being released back into the wild in a couple of months. [Washington Post]
Clarendon Co-Working Space Filling Up Fast — The new 40,000 square foot MakeOffices co-working space in Clarendon is more than half full already and is expected to be sold out by early July. The location, just across from the Clarendon Metro station, is the Arlington-based company’s tenth, but has been deemed its new flagship location. [Bisnow]
Nauck Profiled in WaPo — The Washington Post real estate section has profiled Arlington’s Nauck neighborhood, noting that “affordability is a major selling point in Nauck, where about half of current listings are priced under $500,000.” [Washington Post]
Photo by Jackie Friedman
Leslie Fender and Angel have traveled almost 1,500 miles over three years to get to Arlington, and they’re not stopping now.
Fender is a Vietnam War veteran and Angel is his horse. Right now, and through the weekend, Fender and Angel will be camped out at American Legion Post 139 at 3445 Washington Blvd in Virginia Square. Fender and Angel started their journey from his hometown of Stephenville, Texas, three years ago, raising awareness for stroke prevention and research.
Fender is tall, wears a cowboy hat and his American Legion nametag, speaks in a Texas twang and says he started his ride to benefit the National Stroke Association and American Stroke Foundation, which helped pay for his own stroke surgery and recovery in 2004.
This morning, an Arlington resident called 911 after seeing Angel grazing in front of Post 139 and Fender relaxing in his tent on the front lawn. Arlington County Police Department Dustin Sternbeck said the man from the 17,000-person “Cowboy Capital of the World” is doing nothing illegal.
“The horse is not being housed here, so therefore it’s just a mode of transportation,” he said. “When the horse is in the road, cars need to yield to it.”
Fender is staying the weekend to visit the U.S. Marine Corps Memorial in Rosslyn and the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington, D.C., he said. And what if some new neighbors want to come see Angel?
“They can come and see her, definitely,” Fender said. “But they should donate to the stroke foundation if they do.”
After this weekend, Fender said he and Angel will mosey north, visiting Veterans Affairs hospitals, American Legion posts and V.F.W. posts, raising awareness for stroke research, camping out and stopping traffic as they go.
According to Animal Welfare League of Arlington Chief Animal Control Officer Alice Burton, the coyote was struck at about 9:30 a.m. on Route 110 near Arlington National Cemetery.
The responding animal control officer — who works for AWLA, the county’s provider of animal control services — removed the coyote from the scene and brought it back to AWLA, where it had to be euthanized, Burton said.
Arlington’s only previous confirmed sighting of a coyote was in April 2012, courtesy of a wildlife camera set up in Potomac Overlook Regional Park. Other sightings reported by residents have either been foxes or dogs mistaken for coyotes, Burton said.
Despite the cemetery’s location in the heart of the county, Burton said it didn’t strike her as shocking that that’s where the animal was found.
“Right by the cemetery you have pretty quick access to D.C., and I know Rock Creek Parkway has had problems with coyotes,” she told ARLnow.com. “I believe they’ve had more confirmations [of coyotes] in D.C. than we have.”
Arlington’s Natural Resource Manager Alonso Abugattas confirmed that the animal found was a coyote. The female was about 27 pounds — the average adult weighs about 30 pounds — but had young teeth, a bushy tails and many other indicators Abugattas used to confirm the species.
“It’s very small for a coyote but is much too big to be a fox,” he said. “It’s very slender, has no microchips or tattoos to indicate it’s a pet.”
Abugattas said although coyotes are rare in Arlington, the second one spotted in two years is no cause for alarm; the animals don’t present a danger to humans.
“The reality is, I don’t think they’re going to be any kind of issue,” he said. “These animals learn to live next to humans and not mess with humans. I don’t believe they would cause any kinds of issues to the public. 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.”
File photo via Wikipedia
Rosslyn workers got a “hump day” surprise Wednesday when a camel showed up in front of the WJLA building at the corner of N. Lynn Street and Wilson Blvd.
According to the camel’s handler, the large ungulate was brought to Rosslyn by the TV station in honor of “hump day.” The camel is from a ranch in Berryville, Va.
A crowd quickly formed at the plaza in front of the building as onlookers snapped photos with cell phones and quoted the popular GEICO commercial featuring a camel in an office on a Wednesday. One even quipped to the handler that he should be walking through aisles of cubicles, not outside in the plaza.
Hat tip to WJLA’s Alex Liggitt
The flyer at the left was recently posted at the Washington & Lee Apartments (2200 2nd Street N.), threatening “legal action and fines” against those who feed the squirrels. Sandra Rose, who has been the apartment property manager for 18 years, stresses she’s not trying to be nasty, but the animals have been causing thousands of dollars worth of damage to the property.
“People think they’re cute and cuddly, and they are. But they don’t always understand they’re a rodent,” Rose said. “As a rodent they do rodent type damage.”
The squirrels recently have chewed holes in roofs on the buildings and residents have complained about the animals getting into their attics. Rose said she has had to hire exterminators to try to capture the animals once they’re loose in the building.
The roof damage isn’t the only problem with the squirrels the property manager has encountered. Rose said in the past, she’s sent out similar flyers when the squirrels managed to get into residents’ car engines and strip spark plug wire material, which they then used to pack their nests.
Rose said one of the exterminators actually spotted residents feeding the animals, which is why she sent out the flyer. She recommends other property owners inform their residents of how destructive the squirrels can be.
“I think they should let tenants know not to feed them because that’s domesticating them,” said Rose. “When they become domesticated they become dependent on you and won’t go away.”
Arlington County Natural Resources Manager Alonso Abugattas shared Rose’s concerns. He said feeding any wild mammals, squirrels or others, is a bad idea.
“In a nutshell, with mammals the overall idea is it’s not a good idea to feed them,” Abugattas said. “When you start feeding more unusual wildlife — squirrels, deer, foxes, raccoons — that’s a bad idea. It changes their behavior, and not only will they hang out in places where they shouldn’t, but they lose some of their fear and healthy respect for humans. Wild foods are always healthier for the animals anyway.”
While contracting rabies is a rare occurrence, it could be a possibility if the animals become so domesticated that they approach people, and perhaps bite them. Abugattas said it’s one of the many health concerns stemming from feeding wild animals. Another concern is the the spread of diseases to pets.
A smaller acorn crop in Virginia and West Virginia this fall is prompting squirrels to change their behavior this winter, Abugattas added. As a result, squirrels and other animals have been seeking out non-traditional food sources to make up for the lack of acorns.
Gun Fact Check — New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg took aim at Virginia for being one of the top suppliers of guns used to commit crimes in his city. He called out the state for having weak gun laws. Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell’s office fought back, releasing a statement saying the state has some of the toughest gun laws in the country and its rates of crimes such as homicide and robbery are lower than in New York City. The New York Daily News checked out the claim, however, and found that Virginia has 3.9 killings for every 100,000 people. That’s compared to the state of New York — not just New York City — with 3.5 murders per 100,000 people. [New York Daily News]
Rabbits at Library — The library’s regular Paws to Read program is on hiatus in August. Instead of using dogs this month, one of the librarians suggested bringing in rabbits to join kids while they read. The librarian noted that the Muslim families she knows aren’t able to participate in the Paws to Read program because Islam discourages touching dogs. Three rabbits — Mocha, Copper and Apache — already took turns cuddling up with visitors at the Columbia Pike Branch Library. [Arlington Public Library]
Rabbit Population on the Rise — Arlington is one of the D.C. metro areas experiencing a rabbit boom. The county’s chief naturalist confirmed that there’s been a spike in most of Arlington’s neighborhoods. Because they typically don’t carry diseases or bother humans, the rabbit boom isn’t causing alarm. In fact, because the animals are prey for a number of other creatures, it’s believed their numbers will naturally come under control. [Washington Post]
Bezos to Buy Washington Post — Jeff Bezos, the owner of Amazon.com, has agreed to buy the Washington Post for $250 million in cash. The sale is expected to be completed within 60 days. Employees at the Post were reportedly shocked by the deal. [Poynter Institute]
Earth Day apparently isn’t just for humans. The animals at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (2650 Arlington Mill Drive) in Shirlington will be getting a special treat in recognition of the day.
Girl Scout Troop 1251 from Mary Ellen Henderson Middle School in Falls Church has been helping to construct a “small companion animal garden” at the shelter. Animals at the shelter including rabbits, guinea pigs and birds will soon be able to munch on the fresh, organic produce that will be grown in the garden.
The scouts will put the final touches on the garden on Monday, which is Earth Day. At that time, they will finish planting the produce such as cabbage, broccoli, lettuce, parsley and carrots.
The 2nd Annual Turtle Trot 5K takes runners along the W&OD trail. Proceeds help with the rehabilitation of injured local turtles and wildlife, and with providing shelter until they can be released back into the wild. Some money also goes toward educational programs at Long Branch Nature Center.
Following the race, the whole family can enjoy educational booths, games and displays, some of which feature live animals. Onlookers can also cheer on the stars of the “real turtle race.”
The 5K starts close to the picnic pavilion in lower Bluemont Park, near Wilson Blvd and N. Manchester Street. Sign up can be done online through Friday, or on location starting at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday. The race begins at 10:00 a.m.
The W&OD trail will not be closed during the race, so runners must share the trail. Others who plan to use the trail at that time are encouraged to be patient and be mindful of runners.
For more information, call 703-228-6535.
Many residents spent this past Saturday taking part in the various Neighborhood Day events throughout Arlington.
The weather cooperated, providing warmth and sun for the outdoor activities. From yard sales to cook outs to petting zoos, residents came out to connect with their neighbors and partake in the festivities. As you can see, kids’ activities took center stage at most of the events.
Here’s a look at the festivities at Highland Park Overlee-Knolls Family Fun Day, Bluemont Neighborhood BBQ and Fairlington Day.