Arlington, VA

Shirlington’s annual pet-friendly street festival “Wags n’ Whiskers” is returning next week.

The 12th annual pet expo is popping back up on Campbell Avenue next Saturday, August 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., outside the Village at Shirlington, and usually draws hundreds of attendees. This year’s festival will feature adoptable pets, live music, and activities like face-painting and balloon art.

About 65 local businesses and organizations will host booths along the street advertising pet wares and offering “treats and gift bags,” according to a recent press release. Veterinarians and dog trainers will also be attending to answer practice advice questions.

Singer songwriter Taylor Carson and pop rock cover band Dan Haas Trio will both perform during the weekend event.

Scenes from Wags n' Whiskers! Come join us!

Posted by The Village at Shirlington on Saturday, August 24, 2013

During the event, attendees can get pictures taken of their pets (for $5) or get a caricature drawn of them and their pet. Attendees will also have a chance to enter to win a $100 gift certificate to the nearby Dogma Bakery.

Event organizers noted in the press release that water stations will be stationed throughout the street to keep pets hydrated and cool.

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During the floods that devastated Arlington two weeks ago, it wasn’t just people’s pets that needed rescuing.

Wild animals — especially young ones — were at an especially high risk of being orphaned by the storm because of the time of the year, according to the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, and staff say they rescued dozens of critters.

“After the flood water receded the wildlife calls started to come in,” said Animal Control Chief Jennifer Toussaint.

“From deer who were in odd areas appearing disoriented to dozens of orphaned baby bird and squirrel calls,” she said. “It look about 3 days for our calls for wildlife to go back to the standard volumes we see this time of year. Unfortunately given the time of year many small unweaned animals were thrown from their nests and orphaned.”

Among the orphans were baby squirrel siblings, and a juvenile Cooper’s hawk. AWLA was able to care for them overnight, staff told ARLnow, and transfer them to a wildlife rescue organization that will hopefully be able to rehabilitate them for the wild.

“When we get in wildlife it is either re-released back into other wild, or we do triage care until we get a wildlife rehabilitator,” said AWLA spokeswoman Chelsea Jones. Due to the call volume that Monday it was “all hands on deck” at AWLA, she said..

Toussaint was dispatched to help the Westover community, which was especially hit hard by the flooding, checking homes with pets whose owners were away at work during the morning storm.

“I was present when the fire department aided a woman and her cat out of the flood waters in her basement and up to safety,” she said. “We brought that cat in here to AWLA for safekeeping, a free program we have for boarding animals in an emergency situation.”

She said residents were taking in each other’s pets to keep them safe, and directing first responders to check their elderly neighbors. Jones confirmed that the cat was able to return to its owner after five days of care at AWLA, and all wild animals rescued have been either re-released or transferred to a wildlife rehabilitation organization.

Toussaint said the kindness people showed each other “highlighted the true strength of community we have here in Arlington.”

“I stood in the home of a member of the public who had just lost everything — an inch of water on the floor of the first level, darkness filling the house as the power was cut for safety,” she said. “I listened to one of the captains from our fire department say, ‘I will not leave until I know you have a safe place to go and a plan.'”

Photos (1 and 2) courtesy Jennifer Toussaint, (3 and 4) courtesy Nicole Bender, (5 and 6) courtesy Brandon Jones

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Homeward Trails Animal Rescue and Market Common Clarendon are pairing up to help people meet their next feline friend.

Starting this Saturday (June 29), Market Common Clarendon (2800 Clarendon Blvd) will host “Kitten Parties” every Saturday and Sunday from noon until 2:00 p.m. until the end of July. The events aim to adopt kittens from the Homeward Trails shelter to loving families.

Summer is a difficult season for cat adoptions since many families travel and aren’t in a position to take care of an animal. Summer also happens to be “kitten season.” Executive Director of Homeward Trails Sue Bell said many newborns are stuck in overflowing shelters.

Bell encourages any cat lover to come and check out the event since there will be free giveaways, scavenger hunts, raffles and just a chance to play with some kittens. No adoption is necessary. 

Market Common Clarendon donated unleased space in the shopping center to the effort, and businesses like Sephora and Origins decided to also join the effort and will have adoptable kittens in their stores. 

The shelter currently houses roughly 150 kittens that are up for adoption this season. Adoption fees for cats are $125 for one animal or $200 for a pair. These fees go toward the first three vaccines, a complimentary visit to a number of D.C.-area VCA Veterinary Hospitals and a free 30-day pet insurance promotion. 

More information can be found on the Homeward Trails website.

Photo courtesy Homeward Trails

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The two Kriser’s stores in Arlington are being rebranded as “Loyal Companion,” with a grand opening planned to give away free pet food.

The rebranding is part of a change for all East Coast locations of Kriser’s. The new brand includes the natural pet food focus of Kriser’s with other parts of “holistic pet wellness.” From the brand’s website:

Loyal Companion is unlike any pet experience in the world. We’ve combined some of the best brands in the business including Kriser’s, Especially For Pets, Bark! Dogma – Life, With Your Pet, Pet Source, Pet Life and Whole Pet Central to form one new company dedicated to holistic pet wellness. Loyal Companion is a community of pet experts — nutritionists, behaviorists, educators and groomers — that has banded together to make life easy for pet owners by offering everything you need under one virtual and physical roof. Raw food. Healthy treats. Supplies. Grooming. Daycare. Training. Vet services. Advice.

(Though Baltimore-based Dogma is one of the stores now under the Loyal Companion umbrella, as mentioned above, Dogma Bakery in Arlington is unaffiliated with the brand.)

There are two Kriser’s locations in Arlington, one in Clarendon at 2509 Franklin Road and one at 2501 N. Harrison Street in the Lee Harrison Shopping Center.

Both locations are throwing grand opening celebrations for the new brand on Saturday (May 4) from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. and Sunday (May 5) from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The events will offer free gift bags for the first 100 customers in each day, with gift cards up to $100 as a doorbuster prize, according to the company.

The stores will also have raffle prizes, with potential to win free pet food for a year, gift cards and more.

Planned in-store activities include a blind taste test for pets and staff on hand to answer pet nutrition questions.

Photo via Google Maps

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(Updated at 4 p.m.) More people than ever before are finding pet sitters online but it’s important to verify their services, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington says.

Apps like Rover or Wag have gained popularity by allowing people to book sitters or dog walkers with a few taps and even offering background checks.

“About five years ago you would only see a few dozen people,” Chief Animal Control Officer Jennifer Toussaint said of the apps. “Now you can find hundreds.”

However, as CBS News and other outlets have reported, the background checks don’t always turn up red flags with the people providing the walking and boarding services, sometimes with tragic results.

Joining the ranks of those whose pets have been killed or seriously injured in the care of a service provider found on an app: an Arlington resident who lives in the Boulevard Manor neighborhood.

The resident reached out to ARLnow about his six-month-old mini Australian Shepard, Hunter, who was hit by a car on Route 50 in March after escaping from the backyard of the dog sitter’s house.

The crash broke Hunter’s pelvis, damaged his organs, and will result in one of his legs being amputated soon, according to documents shared by his owner, who asked ARLnow not to share his name.

“My kids cried themselves to sleep for the first week after the accident because we honestly did not know for sure if Hunter would survive or whether he had major internal injuries,” said Hunter’s owner.

Chief Toussaint confirmed the sitter was cited by animal control with class four misdemeanor offenses in connection with the incident, including Running At Large, and was convicted in April on three charges. One of those charges was Repeat Offenses, because the woman had also been cited in December of 2018 for failing to control dogs, according to court records — something the Rover app’s background check did not reveal.

The sitter didn’t know the puppy had escaped right away because she had left the dog in the care of her children, messages reviewed by ARLnow indicate, an arrangement Hunter’s owner said he wouldn’t have agreed to if he had known.

“Unfortunately, my family is now suffering from this failure and we have a puppy that was severely injured in March and is now permanently crippled with tens of thousands of dollars of veterinary bills,” the owner said. He said Rover offered to reimburse at least part of the $20,000 in vet bills.

Toussaint said incidents with sitters found online — be it through Rover or social media — are not common but they do happen. Recently, an Arlington resident called animal control after finding out their cat sitter hadn’t visited the house in two days thanks to alert system on their front door, she said.

Rover spokesman Dave Rosenbaum declined to provide exact numbers, but told ARLnow that the number of incidents pet owners experience on the app is an “extremely small” part of the 500,000 total bookings made in the D.C. area so far.

“We’re committed to building a safe community and will remove both owners and sitters when appropriate, and take any allegations of this nature very seriously,” said Rosenbaum. “We encourage both owners and sitters to report any safety concerns to us through a variety of methods.”

Toussaint says animal control usually notifies the app makers when one of their sitters is cited. The company then removes the person from their service provides. The sitter connected to Hunter’s injuries is now banned from Rover, both Rosenbaum and Toussaint confirmed, but the company said they never received notice of the sitter’s first citation.

“We did not hear from Arlington animal control,” said Rosenbaum today (Wednesday). “Had we, we would’ve removed the sitter from the platform.”

One of the difficulties in regulating apps like Rover, Toussaint said, was that they don’t fall under the Virginia’s code for “boarding facilities” which have to be inspected and meet certain standards. However she said online pet sitters do still fall under state code as custodians of animals, and can be cited for failing to provide adequate care for people’s pets.

“That’s where we as officers can hold these pet sitters accountable,” she said.

Rover advertises a background check system for its workers and Rosenbaum said it encourages people to submit complaints at any times, but he did not respond to questions on whether Rover checks for new criminal records after employing a worker.

Last week, CBS reported that 12 families said their dogs died while workers from Rover were supposed to be caring for the animals. Two additional families also reported dog deaths during care from Rover’s competitor, Wag.

Rover currently has an A+ rating on the Better Business Bureau but averages a one-star rating from consumers, who have submitted 70 complaints to the website.

The Better Business Bureau is currently investigating Wag’s advertising claims, including their promise of a “rigorous screening process that includes a background check.”

In October, the bureau said it would continue monitoring reports it received that, “show that the company has a pattern of complaints concerning consumers consumers allege that items have gone missing from their homes after using the Wag app to walk their dog(s).”

In the meantime, Chief Toussaint said incidents in Arlington are rare but animal control has a few tips on how Arlington residents can do their own background checks on sitters:

  • Do your own background check of your sitter or dog walker
  • Meet in person at the location your pet will be staying at
  • Ask what their emergency plan is should they be unable to care for your animal, or if something happens to your animal
  • Have a back-up care provider

Image courtesy of Hunter’s owner

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Morning Notes

Board Member Wants Lower School Costs — “In remarks to a local service organization, Matt de Ferranti telegraphed the likelihood that Arlington property owners would see a higher real-estate-tax rate this year, in part to pay for higher school costs. But at the same time, he said the days of gold-plated school facilities must come to an end.” [InsideNova]

Arlington No. 5 on ‘Women in Tech’ List — Arlington County ranks fifth on a new list of “the Best Cities for Women in Tech in 2019.” D.C. ranked No. 1. [SmartAsset]

Isabella Restaurant Gear Up for Auction — “Rasmus Auctions is advertising online auctions for kitchen equipment, dining room contents, decor and more at Yona, Pepita and Kapnos Taverna in Arlington until about noon March 13.” [Washington Business Journal]

County Expanding Drug Take-Back Boxes — “In the first calendar year of the Permanent Drug Take-Back Box program, residents safely disposed of 1008 pounds of unused, unwanted or expired prescription medications. Due to the success of the program, an additional permanent drug take-back box has been installed at Arlington County Fire Station #5.” [Arlington County]

AWLA Calls for More Pet Foster Families — “We need your help! Our kennels are full and we are in URGENT need of foster homes for medium-large adult dogs and kittens undergoing treatment for ringworm.” [Facebook]

Falls Church Becoming ‘Un-boring’ — The sleepy City of Falls Church is attracting younger residents amid a development boom, cheered on in an editorial by the little city’s newspaper. [Falls Church News-Press]

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Morning Notes

A Wall that Divided Arlington Still Stands — “The wall was erected in a section of Arlington County in the 1930s to separate black residents from white residents. And for decades, it did just that. It kept segregation intact by creating a physical barrier between an ‘us’ and a ‘them.'” [Washington Post]

Coming Soon: Happy Hour Advertising? — “A lawsuit filed against the state by a Northern Virginia restaurateur could be the motivation the General Assembly needs to change laws that restrict happy hour advertising.” [Virginia Mercury]

Demand for Free Pet Food Rises — The Animal Welfare League of Arlington says it has seen an increase in demand for its free pet food pantry during the government shutdown. [Twitter]

Resources for Furloughed Feds — Congressman Don Beyer’s (D-Va.) office has compiled a list of resources for those affected by the federal government shutdown. [Rep. Don Beyer]

Anti-NIMBY Legislation Proposed in Va. — “[Del. Jeff] Bourne and Sen. Jennifer McClellan, D-Richmond, are pursuing legislation in the General Assembly this year that would explicitly prohibit local governments from denying permits for housing developments because of the expected race or income levels of the residents.” [Virginia Mercury]

Flickr pool photo by Kevin Wolf

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An Arlington pet rescue group says it has an urgent need for foster homes right now, with an influx of dogs displaced by hurricanes headed their way.

The Lost Dog and Cat Rescue Foundation is putting out a new call for people willing to take in a dog on a temporary basis, in order to clear some room in the group’s kennel to welcome the new arrivals.

Colleen Learch, a member of the group’s Board of Directors, told ARLnow that about 20 dogs arrived yesterday (Thursday), and her organization would love the chance to focus on those dogs, at least until it can arrange a few more adoptions. She says Lost Dog already has more than 100 dogs currently in its kennel, and the new arrivals will test the limits of their space.

“We really pride ourselves on having a strong volunteer network, and we rely heavily on that to deal with dogs that need to be in a home versus in a kennel, so we’re just putting a call out for as many foster homes as we can identify,” Learch said. “These dogs range from puppies to seniors… and they’re just looking for a home to call their own.”

Learch says the dogs come to Arlington from the Houston area, where her group has partnered with other animal rescue organizations to find homes for dogs displaced by Hurricane Harvey. Even though the powerful storm struck the area more than a year ago, Learch says the area is still feeling the impacts.

“Natural disasters devastate an area for a long time, that includes their impact on animals,” Learch said. “But we pledge ongoing support for these areas, and we’re there for them, and that’s really one of the beauties of it, bonding together and supporting these communities.”

Anyone looking to become a foster parent simply needs to fill out an online form on the foundation’s website, and Learch says her group offers a brief counseling session to prepare people to foster the animals.

But she also encouraged anyone interested in adopting the newly arrived dogs as well to give them a look, or even prepare for adoption by experimenting with a foster dog first.

“It’s a really good chance for people looking to try it out for a couple days or a week,” Learch said. “We always hear from people that so many dogs in Arlington are Lost Dog alumni, and we love that.”

Photo via @LostDogRescue

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Morning Notes

WhyHotel Coming to Columbia Pike — “WhyHotel has just signed a deal for its second project in Arlington.  WhyHotel signed on with Orr Partners to operate temporary hotel rooms in 150 of the 366 units in the Centro Arlington development… [which] is replacing the former Food Star grocery store at the intersection of Columbia Pike and S. George Mason Drive.” [Bisnow]

New Scalia Statue at GMU Law School — “As debate raged on Capitol Hill over a Supreme Court nomination that could shape the court’s future for decades, five justices gathered Thursday at a law school just across the Potomac River for the unveiling of a statue honoring an icon from its recent past — the late justice Antonin Scalia.” [Washington Post]

Arlington Living Wage Calculator — According to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology living wage calculator, the income required to raise three kids in a household with two working adults in Arlington County is $92,480. [MIT]

Arlington Flyover Today — There is a flyover scheduled around 1:15 p.m. today in support of a funeral at Arlington National Cemetery. [Twitter]

Where to Find Singing WBJ Staffers — The Continental Beer Garden in Rosslyn and Westover Beer Garden in Westover are among the 15 best beer gardens in the D.C. area, according to the Washington Business Journal. The former is “a popular happy hour spot for WBJ staffers, who are known to sing along to the tunes playing on the outdoor speakers and share an order of pretzels and beer cheese dip.” [Washington Business Journal]

Arlington Pet Adoptions Up — “In 2017, we did a record number of adoptions for [the Animal Welfare League of Arlington], with 1,366 pets adopted. So far this year, we have already beaten that number, with 1,450 pets adopted.” [Twitter]

Halloween Stores Now Open — If you’re looking for a Halloween costume, there are three Spirit Halloween stores now open in the area, although none are in Arlington. For something closer to home, Total Fright in the Crystal City Shops (known as Total Party other times of the year) is also selling costumes and decorations. Meanwhile, a Christmas store is now open in Tysons. [Tysons Reporter]

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The Animal Welfare League of Arlington cares for over 2,000 animals each year, and uses plenty of supplies in the process.

To support AWLA, the Arlington County Fire Department will aim to accumulate 650 pounds of pet supplies in its third annualOperation FirePaws” drive, which runs from tomorrow (Aug. 1) through Aug. 31.

Community members can drop off non-perishable items from AWLA’s wishlist between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. to donation bins located at the front entrance of every Arlington County fire station.

AWLA asks that donations not include homemade treats, Milk Bones or other boxed hard treats. Desired donation items include canned food, collars and toys.

ACFD invites donors to pick up a pet alert decal when they make their donation. A full list of fire stations is available here.

Photo via ACFD

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July 4 is just around the corner, and PETA is urging people looking to celebrate Independence Day in Arlington to abandon any plans to set off fireworks and avoid frightening local pets.

The animals rights group announced in a news release Monday (June 11) that its workers will start handing out leaflets across the D.C. area to spread the word about the lesser-known impact of fireworks on our four-legged friends. PETA notes in the release that animal shelters often become flooded with lost pets in the immediate aftermath of the holiday, after being startled by the sudden explosion of fireworks.

“Fireworks sound exactly like ‘bombs bursting in air’ to animals who end up fleeing in terror — some never to be found again,” PETA Vice President Colleen O’Brien wrote in a statement. “PETA is urging everyone to protect animals and other vulnerable members of the community by never setting off fireworks, which can carry a penalty of fines or even jail time.”

PETA is also recommending that pet owners keep their animals inside on July 4, and even close the blinds or turn on the TV or a fan to drown out the noise of fireworks.

The group also points out that local laws prohibit people from setting off many types of fireworks across the region. In Arlington, the county has a ban on projectile fireworks, as well as ones with sparks that reach higher than 12 feet in the air.

A full list of approved fireworks is available on the county’s website. The full press release from PETA, after the jump.

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