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Owl and turtle get unstuck from each other (via Animal Welfare League of Arlington)

A turtle and owl found themselves a little too close for comfort last Tuesday when the owl somehow got a talon stuck in the turtle’s shell.

“This was a first for our Animal Control team,” said the Animal Welfare League of Arlington in a tweet.

The league was alerted to the situation when a caller told the team a nearby owl was having trouble flying.

“Chief Toussaint and Officer Robinson gave each animal a check up and then gently separated the two,” according to a video chronicling the procedure.

The owl had a minor injury and the turtle was uninjured, the video said.

Both animals are safe and with a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, who will take care of them until they are ready to be back in the wild again.

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Morning Notes

Big Ballston Restaurant Opening Today — WHINO, a 150-seat restaurant, craft cocktail bar and art gallery, is set to open its doors at Ballston Quarter today. [ARLnow]

County Considering Green Valley Curfew — “No arrests yet, but Arlington County Manager Mark Schwartz says police are making progress after a June 6 shoot-’em-up in the Green Valley neighborhood… The matter became the topic of discussion at the June 12 County Board meeting, when one neighbor called on county leaders to impose a curfew at dusk for the park and school area. County Board member Katie Cristol has asked staff to return with an opinion on whether such an approach would be legal.” [Sun Gazette]

Police Planning for ‘National Night Out’ — “The Arlington County Police Department (ACPD) invites community members and organizations to celebrate outdoor National Night Out (NNO) events on Tuesday, August 3, 2021 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. NNO is an annual community-building campaign that promotes police-community partnerships and neighborhood camaraderie to make our communities safer and improve quality of life.” [Arlington County]

APS Animal-Science Program Dwindling — “I am an 11th-grader at Washington-Liberty High School and a technical-animal-science student at the Arlington Career Center. The animal-science program is at risk. The number of animals in the program has been dwindling for years. The program has not been permitted to replace the recently deceased miniature horse. Only one goat is left, and he’s 17. The sole surviving ferret, at nine, is living on borrowed time. However, the administration wants to cut our programs even more, taking away our only goat and our four chickens.” [Sun Gazette]

W-L Student’s Vax Effort Lauded — “Before graduation, McBride spent countless hours convincing her classmates to get vaccinated against COVID-19. ‘I was making sure if vaccines were available for some of my friends, they were going to be able to get it and access it,’ she said. ‘I was very compelled by the thought that I want to be able to see my friends in the future, I want to make sure my friends are healthy, and the community is healthy, and their family is healthy in the future.'” [WJLA]

Man Arrested for Columbia Pike Robbery — “The female victim was walking to her parked vehicle when she observed the suspect sitting near by. As she approached the vehicle, the suspect allegedly ran towards her with his arms outstretched and demanded money. The victim backed away and the suspect ran across the street and approached another victim in a similar manner. Arriving officers canvassed the area and located the suspect.” [ACPD]

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No, that’s not a small rock — just a baby turtle trying to make its way across a thoroughfare.

Turtles are out and about this spring, sometimes crossing local trails and roads. In May and June, many are leaving their nests in search of water, says Alonso Abugattas, natural resources manager for Arlington County Parks.

That’s because many kinds of baby turtles can remain in their nest during the winter. In the spring, turtles can make wild breaks to get to water, Abugattas says.

Turtles typically lay their eggs in the spring or summer, and they hatch in the late summer or fall.

“Aquatic turtle species will travel quite far from water, up to a mile in some cases, to find a place to lay eggs,” state wildlife staff say, adding there’s nothing to be alarmed about and the turtles instinctively know which direction to go.

Common kinds here include the eastern painted turtle, red-eared slider, snapping turtle, woodland box turtle and, by the river, the northern red-bellied cooter.

Woodland box turtles in particular have been in decline in Virginia with construction wiping out a lot of their territory, Abugattas says.

“We’re lucky to still have turtles around,” he says.

While you can help them cross a road if you’re comfortable doing so, they can be defensive, and people are encouraged to leave them alone, he told ARLnow.

If you’re thinking about caring for one, Abugattas points out they require a lot of attention due to special diets and other factors. Special lamps can help their heating and lighting needs. But animal experts warn that without proper care, light deficiencies can cause metabolic bone disease and deformed shells.

“Turtles don’t make good pets,” Abugattas says, no matter what cultural images like “Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles” might suggest.

Photo courtesy Alonso Abugattas

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Dr. Pepper, a 22-year-old cat, is in need of a new home.

The Animal Welfare League of Arlington put out a call on social media on Wednesday in hopes of finding this very elderly, brown and black, domestic shorthaired kitty a welcoming place to nap and snack.

She was brought into the shelter about two weeks ago, Chelsea Jones of AWLA said, when her long-time caretaker had become too sick to care for her anymore.

Dr. Pepper was accompanied by a note that said she was the beloved companion of a cancer survivor, a Vietnam veteran, and her caretaker’s family for 22 years.

“We’re just all in tears over this cat and this poor family that, unfortunately, is having to be separated because of a really sad life situation,” says Jones. “We are flat determined to find this cat an amazing end-of-life home where she can be loved, pampered, and spoiled for however long she has left.”

Dr. Pepper is, admittingly, quite old. While it’s tough comparing animal ages to humans, it’s estimated that a 22-year-old cat is about the same age as a 104-year-old human.

However, Jones says she’s relatively healthy and only is in need of one pill a day for hyperthyroidism.

Her favorite things are napping, snacking, and getting attention.

“She is just so affectionate and so friendly… she wants to just have someone nearby,” says Jones. “To anyone who comes up to her kennel, she puts her paw up to the glass [like she’s] saying ‘hello’.”

While Dr. Pepper has her moments when she plays like a cat a quarter of her age, she mostly naps, asks for attention, and then goes back to laying down.

“She’s really an easy pet to own,” says Jones.

Since their social media call out about 24 hours ago, there’s been significant interest. Jones says Dr. Pepper has a number of appointments today to meet with prospective new caretakers, plus a foster family has already asked to care for her.

But there’s always room for more and there are plenty of other pets one can adopt at AWLA in case Dr. Pepper finds her forever home prior to your visit. Currently, the shelter remains by appointment only — to schedule an appointment on the League’s website, click the animal you’d like to visit and scroll down to schedule.

Arlington has recently seen a number of cute animal stories. Dr. Pepper’s situation is a sad one, but AWLA is hoping for a heartwarming last chapter to the elder feline’s life story.

It’s bittersweet,” says Jones. “But we’re going to make sure [she] has a happy ending.”

Update at 10:45 a.m. — Dr. Pepper has been adopted, according to AWLA.

Photo courtesy of Animal Welfare League of Arlington

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Arlington County police frequently escort VIPs like the president and visiting heads of state as they travel to and through Arlington.

On Thursday morning, ACPD conducted a different sort of escort along a local highway. Rather than driving in limos, these VIPs waddled along the pavement.

The waterfowl family — they turned out to be geese and not ducks — ended up making it safely off the busy highway thanks to the assist from a quick-thinking and animal-loving detective.

“At approximately 10 a.m., a detective traveling on EB I-66 prior to Spout Run Parkway came upon a family of geese walking in the lane of travel,” recounted Arlington County Police Department spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “He activated his emergency lights and helped escort them down the ramp, where they exited the roadway.”

No word on where the family of two adults and five little ones ended up.

Photos courtesy ACPD

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Move over Jazz, there’s a new heir to the cute crown in Arlington.

On Easter Sunday at about 5 p.m., an adorable baby red fox — a kit — was caught on camera in the backyard of a residence in the Rock Spring neighborhood, near Jamestown Elementary School.

Sally Granade was at Jamestown Park with her daughter when she got a call from her husband.

“He called and said ‘Oh, this baby fox has been staggering in the yard, I got a bowl of water and put it out and now it’s following me around,” Granade tells ARLnow.

Worried about both the health of the fox and the risk of rabies, she immediately told him not to touch it and they called the Animal Welfare League of Arlington.

Animal control officers arrived in less than 15 minutes, says Granade, and told the family the baby fox was neither sick or injured, simply very young and a bit lost.

It’s thought the kit had wandered from the den, which Granade now believes was under her shed, when mom was out of the house.

“It’s likely that the mom was either out hunting, or she was relocating her kits from one den to another, and the kit happened to make enough noise for the homeowners to notice him,” writes Chelsea Jones, AWLA’s spokesperson.

AWLA believes the kit was only a few weeks old, meaning it was born in the litter season of late March to early April. They were unable to confirm the sex of the baby, though.

Animal control officers requested a four-sided box to gently place the fox in there, so that it couldn’t wander more and mom could find it when she arrived back.

All Granade had was a wicker basket, hence a cute video of the baby fox squawking in a basket.

The officers departed with a request to keep an eye out for the mother.

Sure enough, only about an hour or two later, the family spotted her.

“We saw what was probably the mother sulking around the background… and, by morning, the baby was gone,” says Granade.

Jones says that Granade and her family did exactly what they should have done, which was to not touch the wild animal and call the professionals immediately.

“It’s very important that the public NEVER touch a wild animal unless they absolutely have to because there are zoonotic diseases that can pass from animal to human,” writes Jones. “If you have to touch the animal (it’s in a very dangerous spot, it’s severely injured, etc.), it’s very important to wear thick gloves or use a towel.”

Foxes are certainly not uncommon in Arlington, but in the past year AWLA has received more calls about them and other wildlife. This has more do with humans than the animals.

“We have had more wildlife calls overall in the past year because so many more people are home during the day and seeing more wildlife that they would normally miss because they are at work,” writes Jones.

This is the time of the year that kits begin venturing out of the dens, so it’s normal to spot them in mid-April, Jones notes.

In general, foxes do not pose a threat to humans, however, if they have rabies, they can be dangerous to pets. While they’re fun to watch, do it a safe distance to keep foxes, pets, and humans all safe, Jones says.

For Granade, it was a memorable Easter Sunday evening for her and her family, helping to reunite a baby fox with its mom.

“I was really impressed with the good job that the Animal Welfare League did,” she says. “They even came back to get the basket.”

Photo courtesy Animal Welfare League of Arlington/Facebook

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Morning Notes

APS to Offer Coronavirus Testing — “Beginning the week of April 19, APS will begin providing free medical testing for students and staff who are symptomatic, or who have been exposed to COVID-19. Walk-up testing will be conducted after school hours with parent/guardian consent. Walk-up testing sites at Glebe Elementary, Kenmore Middle and Wakefield High Schools provide trained staff to assist in mid-nasal swab testing using the RT-PCR test after school hours.” [Arlington Public Schools]

New DCA Concourse Opening Next Week — “The shuttle buses will soon be relocated to Philadelphia. And the air stairs, no more. After nearly 25 years, officials at Reagan National Airport on Thursday unveiled a much-anticipated addition, a sleek 14-gate concourse that will mark the end of operations of the much-maligned Gate 35X. American Airlines will begin service Tuesday out of the new concourse.” [Washington Post, NBC 4, DCist]

New Concessions Coming to DCA — Timber Pizza Co. and Peet’s Coffee are among the new food and drink options coming to National Airport and its new concourse. [Twitter, Twitter]

Group Rallies for Affordable Housing –“I’m at a rally hosted by the ACE Collaborative, community organizers who work with Asian American residents in Arlington. They’re in [Pentagon City] this evening, asking the county to take steps to end displacement as rents rise. In the immediate term, the group is calling for the county to add $8 million to its housing grant program in the next budget.” [Twitter]

Car Fire on GW Parkway — “ACFD is on scene of a vehicle fire on the GW Parkway near Spout Run. The vehicle is fully engulfed in flames, per the first arriving firefighters.” [Twitter, Twitter]

Animal Control Saves Turtle — “We need to thank Officer Davis for helping this snapping turtle, who was trying to cross I-395 during rush hour. Thankfully, she was able to safely remove him, bring him to the shelter for a check-up, and then release him back into the wild where he belongs!” [Twitter]

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If it seems like you’ve been seeing more reports of snakes around Arlington on local listservs, you’re not alone. Arlington County officials said there’s been a noticeable uptick in reported copperhead snake sightings.

Alonso Abugattas, the county’s natural resources manager, said there has been an increase in copperhead snake sightings but that the exact numbers are hard to track down because he, Arlington’s nature centers, and animal control all get and respond to calls about snakes.

“This past year I have gotten more,” Abugattas said, “but I expect there’s been more because more people are outside.”

Abugattas said with coronavirus keeping people at home rather than in their offices, the increase in calls may have something to do with people exploring their local parks during the day, when copperhead snakes are more active.

“Parks have had a 200% increased use because people are at home and bored,” Abugattas said. “I think more than anything else, people are more aware of them.”

The local emergency room is also seeing evidence of rising encounters between snakes and humans.

“We’ve had a few patients with copperhead bites recently,” Mike Silverman, head of the emergency department at Virginia Hospital Center, wrote last Friday. “As someone who trained and worked for a long time in Baltimore City, it’s seems so weird to see snake bites in what’s otherwise an urban area but they are definitely in Arlington.”

He encouraged anyone suffering from a snakebite to get a photo of the snake.

“Pictures of dead snakes are great,” Silverman wrote. “Please don’t feel the need to bring the snake into the ER, even if it’s dead, though it does add a little excitement to the shift.”

The copperhead is one of only three venomous snakes found in Virginia and the only one found in Arlington County. Ken Rosenthal, park naturalist at Gulf Branch Nature Center (3608 N. Military Road), said in a presentation last Thursday that they are most likely to be found in Gulf Branch and along the rocky, forested hillsides along the Potomac River.

Despite being venomous, Abugattas said there have only been one or two cases nationwide of copperheads killing humans, and even those had other factors. Neither of them, Abugattas said, were in Virginia.

“It is, for the most part, a very timid snake,” Abugattas said. “Even when they do bite, about one-third of the bites are dry bites — a warning.”

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Morning Notes

Rent Protest Today — Starting at the shopping center parking lot at 5001 Columbia Pike, a caravan of cars adorned with signs will travel to local apartment complexes to support “rent cancellation during this pandemic plus two months following the ability for community members to work and pay rent,” among other aims. The protest is being organized by La ColectiVA and other groups. [Facebook]

Animal Control Rescues Turtle from I-395 — “A few days ago, we got a call about a turtle very close to traffic on I-395. When Sgt Ballena arrived, he found a young snapping turtle who’s beak was fractured and bleeding. He took the turtle to Blue Ridge Wildlife Center, who will care for him until he can be released.” [Twitter]

Arlington Officers Injured During D.C. Protests — Despite an earlier comment by the police chief that no officers were injured, “a spokesperson for Arlington County Police told us, ‘one Arlington officer suffered a concussion and several others suffered bruises and abrasions.'” [WUSA 9]

Home Sales Downs, Prices Up — “May is usually one of the best months for housing sales, but the COVID-19 pandemic and a lack of listings sidelined many potential buyers. The D.C. area had its slowest May for sales in a decade. But more sellers stepped up from April and prices continue to rise year-over-year… The median price of what sold in Arlington County was $622,500, up 1.2% from last May.” [WTOP]

Could HQ2 Be Downsized? — Amazon prizes in-person interactions among employees, but there are still questions as to whether the company will proceed with the second phase of its 4+ million square foot permanent second headquarters in Pentagon City. [Washington Business Journal]

Orange Line Platform Work Moving Along — “Two weeks into the summer shutdown, construction activity is well underway at Vienna, Dunn Loring, West Falls Church and East Falls Church stations. So far, construction crews have focused on demolition work, including the removal of all tiles from the platforms, mezzanines and pedestrian bridges.” [WMATA]

Two Recent Drownings Near Chain Bridge — While D.C. Fire and EMS warns of dangerous waters near the Chain Bridge, the department said another grim discovery was made Thursday. “There have been 2 drownings in the past 3 weeks near Chain Bridge and a body was recovered today,” DCFEMS said. [Twitter]

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(Updated at 5 p.m.) A 26-year-old Arlington man has been arrested after police say he tossed two dogs to their death from his apartment balcony in Courthouse.

The incident happened around 2:30 p.m. Monday. Police received a call about the dogs being thrown off a fifth floor apartment balcony at the Meridian building at 1401 N. Taft Street. According to police dispatches at the time, someone — possibly the building manager — had rushed the dogs to a local vet before officers arrived.

Police arrived on scene and arrested an apartment resident, who now faces animal cruelty charges.

More from an Arlington County Police Department crime report:

ANIMAL COMPLAINT, 2020-04280069, 1400 block of N. Taft Street. At approximately 2:30 p.m. on April 27, police were dispatched to the report of an animal complaint. Upon arrival, it was determined that the suspect allegedly threw two dogs off the balcony of a residence. Prior to police arrival, the dogs were located and transported to area animal hospitals, where they succumbed to their injuries and were pronounced deceased. Officers made contact with the suspect at his residence and took him into custody without incident. Zachary Hanson, 26, of Arlington, Va. was arrested and charged with Cruelty to Animals (x2). He was held on no bond.

A police spokeswoman tells ARLnow that one of the dogs was the suspect’s, while the other belonged to someone he knew.

“One belonged to the suspect, the other belonged to someone known to the suspect,” said ACPD spokeswoman Ashley Savage. “To best protect the identity of the victim, we will not release additional information related to their relationship.”

“What preceded the incident is under investigation,” Savage added.

Court records show that Hanson — no relation to the well-known singer who was born in Arlington — has a preliminary hearing scheduled in Arlington General District on Aug. 28. The charges against him are both Class 6 felonies that generally call for 1-5 years in prison if convicted.

Photo via Google Maps

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Morning Notes

Students: Keep the Career Center’s Farm Animals — “A staff proposal to revamp the animal-science program at the Arlington Career Center, including the removal of on-site large non-domesticated animals, is drawing brushback. The proposal calls for focusing more on smaller, domestic animals at the expense of farm animals, which have been part of the program for years and have come to be a beloved part of the Career Center family.” [InsideNova]

NBC 4 Profiles ACFD Mass Shooter Plan — “The Arlington County Fire Department is leading a national shift in how rescue squads respond to mass shootings.” Arlington fire trucks are now equipped with bulletproof vests and personnel are trained to treat victims as soon as possible. [NBC 4]

Arlington Rent on Par with D.C. — “The District and Arlington County are virtually tied for average apartment rent, at $2,233 and $2,236 respectively. Rents in D.C. and Arlington County are both up 4.3% in the last year.” [WTOP]

Local Tech Firm Not Meeting Job Hype, Yet — “Blockchain software developer Block.one promised in September to add 170 jobs in Arlington over three years, so we’re checking in on where its local employee numbers stand. Out of the 231 employees the company has listed on LinkedIn, 24 are now located in the D.C. area.” [Washington Business Journal]

How One Young Resident Affords Housing Here — “In 2013, [Mallory Scott] and one roommate moved into a three-bedroom, World War II-era Arlington house where the monthly mortgage and property taxes totaled $1,200. She had a connection that helped her find the place: Her parents, who now live in Nevada, purchased the home in 1991 for $190,000 when the Army assigned Scott’s father to Arlington. Today, it’s worth roughly $800,000.” [WAMU]

Neighborhood Near Clarendon Profiled — “Lyon Village is a chic, charming neighborhood in Arlington, Virginia, that resides regally just across the river from Washington, D.C. The 191-acre community of 6,000 residents, which was established in the mid-1920s by developer Frank Lyon for whom it is named, still retains a small-town, good-to-see-you feel yet offers access to all the cultural activities and amenities of the nation’s capital.” [Mansion Global]

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