Local shelter contends with unusual pets as neglected animal seizures rise in Alexandria

Daryl, an alligator that was rescued last summer by the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (via AWLA)

Alexandria has seen an increase in neglected animal seizures over the last few years, including animals rescued from hoarding situations and one confiscated alligator.

This year, 11 animals have been legally seized due to animal cruelty/neglect investigations, versus two animals seized in 2022 and eight in 2021, according to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (4101 Eisenhower Avenue).

Most recently, on July 11, a man brought a cat into the animal shelter that he found in an apartment in the unit block of E. Linden Street near Hoofs Run. The Alexandria Police Department then responded to a call for service and found the home “filled with large amounts of trash and clutter and had a bad odor of feces throughout the residence,” according to a recently released search warrant affidavit.

“Officers on the scene reported they did not believe the residence was suitable for habitation,” according to the search warrant affidavit.

Three cats were taken from the home and AWLA, with help from the City Attorney’s office, was granted custody of all three cats by the General District Court on August 3. Police later found that the woman had been convicted of animal care violations for hoarding 36 cats in Henrico County, Georgia, according to the search warrant affidavit.

“The cats were very dirty with feces and urine embedded in their fur, but were otherwise in good nutritional condition,” said Tony Rankin, the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria’s chief of animal services. “We do not plan on filing any charges at this time. The case info was forwarded to Adult Protective Services in the hopes that (the former owner) can receive assistance.”

The number of animal abuse calls for service remains steady, with 174 calls reported from Jan. 1 to July 31 this year, 175 calls for service for the same period in 2022, 138 calls for service in 2021 and 93 calls for service in 2020, according to AWLA.

Animal Services received 3,382 calls for service in 2022, 3,252 calls in 2021 and 2,218 calls in 2020. Rankin said that a vast majority of those calls are for wildlife complaints related to barking dogs, aggressive dogs and dog bites, while about 10% are for stray animal calls.

Who’s at the shelter now?

There are currently 55 animals available for adoption at the animal shelter, and 89 animals in the building (47 dogs, 30 cats, a ferret, six rabbits and five hamsters). Sometimes the shelter also has tropical birds.

Many of the animals are surrendered by owners who couldn’t take care of them.

“All the hamsters with Marvel names are surrenders,” Rankin said. “They started out with two and then they had 20 on their hands… So, Groot, Pepper Pots, Natasha, Valkrie, and Shuri were all surrenders.”

AWLA is open every day for adoptions from noon to 7 p.m.

Alright, but what about the alligator?

Last summer, a three-foot-long alligator named Daryl was brought into the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter (4101 Eisenhower Avenue). Daryl had been living in a five gallon fish tank in a small apartment in the West End.

“The owner got it at a roadside place in Florida,” said Rankin. “The only reason we got it was because he made his girlfriend mad and she called him out for having an alligator in the apartment.”

The former owner lost an appeal for custody of Daryl with the Alexandria General District Court, and AWLA then worked with the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources to find him a new home at a wildlife enter in Lexington, Virginia.

“He wanted his alligator back,” Rankin said. “But he lost his appeal.”

Image via Google Maps