The mission of the Washington Animal Rescue League is to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home animals who have nowhere else to go. We are committed to strengthening and preserving the human-animal bond by supporting animals in their homes through affordable veterinary care, community outreach, and education.
The Washington Animal Rescue League has been rescuing animals in the District of Columbia since its inception in 1914. It built the first animal shelter in the nation’s capital, and the League continues to be at the forefront of the animal protection movement. Its shelter, completely renovated in 2006, is one of the world’s most progressive animal rehabilitation centers. Designed specifically to meet the needs of abandoned and mistreated animals, the facility fully supports the physical, mental, and social healing of dogs and cats recovering from previous lives of trauma.
Roomy, glass-enclosed living spaces are equipped with individual ventilation, acoustic noise control, and natural lighting to provide the most humane environment possible. Running water, which helps relieve stress, is a prominent feature of the shelter’s design, as is open space for exercise and interaction. Dogs enjoy four landscaped parks and cats have an indoor playground to keep them busy and engaged. And because it is comfortable, physically appealing, and filled with healthy, friendly animals, the League is attracting record numbers of adopters.
At the same time as it rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes abused, abandoned, and homeless animals, the League strives to ensure that all companion animals in our community receive the care they deserve. Some of the League’s special programs include:
With as many as 350 cats and dogs available for adoption at any given time, the League is one of the largest animal adoption facilities in the region. All animals receive complete medical and behavioral evaluations prior to becoming available, and a revolutionary adoption program, Meet Your Match, is used to arrange successful placements.
Our newly renovated, equipped, and expanded Medical Center treats more than 6,000 animals a year. Many patients are shelter animals—once the League takes in an animal, it makes a 100 percent commitment to that animal’s care—but the hospital is also the only local clinic that offers financial assistance to low- and fixed-income guardians, who cannot afford to take their pets to private veterinarians. The center holds low-cost vaccination clinics every week and monthly free spay/neuter clinics for feral cats and pit bull-type dogs. As one of the first and most comprehensive shelter-based hospitals in the country, the League’s Medical Center serves as a prominent teaching facility for veterinary interns and externs. It also enjoys the aid of numerous veterinary specialists, who volunteer their services to care for shelter and public animals.
Among animal protection groups, the League is well known for our ability to carry out extensive rescues. When natural and man-made disasters displace large numbers of pets, leave many animals sick and injured, and overwhelm local shelters, the League is always ready to help. We provide refuge and healing to animals from all across the United States, as well as Canada and even Kuwait. Some are escaping floods, fires, or hurricanes. Others are rescued from hoarding situations, dog fighting rings, puppy mills, medical research labs, and other cases involving severe neglect and cruelty. Earlier this year, the League purchased a 22-foot, custom-built animal transport vehicle to assist in this essential aspect of our work.
Local Partner Shelters
Even as the League reaches out to the animal victims of disasters across state and national borders, we are mindful of the many dogs and cats in our own community who need our help. To that end, about one-quarter of the animals at the League are transferred from other shelters in the District of Columbia, suburban Maryland, or Virginia. Many of these animals come in needing medical care above what the original shelter can provide. Some come in simply because there is no room for them at the other shelters.
Created in 2009 to support families and individuals who are finding it difficult to provide for their pets in this challenging economy, Project Rescueoffers low-cost—or even free—veterinary care, free or low-cost spaying and neutering, a weekly affordable vaccination clinic, free pet food and supplies, emergency temporary shelter for pets of people in transition, and free professional assistance to people who have questions regarding pet care and behavior.
Behavior & Training
The League’s behavior and training department is staffed by professionally certified trainers. They assess each animal’s temperament prior to adoption, work with both cats and dogs to help them overcome behavioral obstacles to adoptions, teach shelter dogs basic manners, and offer affordable positive reinforcement obedience classes to the public.
An essential component of the League’s mission is to educate the public on the needs of companion animals and to inspire people to treat all living beings with care, compassion, and respect. The humane education program employs classroom visits, tours of the shelter, special events, field trips, and summer camps to teach children about proper animal care and the role of animal shelters.
For more info visit our website at warl.org.