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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

A 24-hour veterinary clinic wants to move into 425 Duke Street, the current home of Mattress Firm (staff photo by James Cullum)

A national 24-hour emergency veterinary hospital chain is looking to open a location in the Shoppes at Foxchase in the West End.

New York City-based Veterinary Emergency Group (VEG) filed a special use permit (SUP) application to open at 4525 Duke Street, which is the current home of Mattress Firm. VEG wants to transform the 5,279-square-foot space into an animal clinic that would be open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

The proposed interior renovations at 4525 Duke Street would see the location turn into a 24-hour emergency veterinary clinic (via City of Alexandria)

“The proposed use is a veterinary hospital operating 24 hours a day,” VEG wrote in its special use permit (SUP) application. “The veterinary hospital will not include boarding.”

The SUP was filed on Feb. 27, and the last day for public comments is March 23 before it goes to the Planning Commission and City Council for final approval. A public notification was also posted on the front door of the business and city planners have confirmed that the address is correct.

VEG has dozens of clinics around the country, and the Alexandria proposal would make it the first location in Virginia.

The proposal includes a complete renovation of the interior of the store with examination rooms, an operating room for surgeries, a lab/pharmacy, workstations, seating nooks for customers, a staff break room, a laundry room and storage areas.

“Emergency is all we do, and that’s why we do it best,” VEG said on its website. “VEG is a true partner with your primary vet, acting as an extension of their practice for after-hours emergency care.”

In its application, VEG anticipates accommodating 15-to-20 customers a day.

Representatives with Mattress Firm did not respond to calls for comment, and aside from the SUP request there is no official notification of whether the store is closing. The property manager for the shopping center’s owner, Global Retail Investors LLC, also did not respond to calls for comment.

Mattress Firm filed for bankruptcy in 2018 and closed hundreds of stores. There are reportedly 2,400 Mattress Firm locations around the country, and other stores in Alexandria are located at 3925 A Richmond Highway in Potomac Yard and at 821 S. Washington Street in Old Town.

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The adoption fees for a pair of tabby cat brothers are covered in Alexandria.

It’s hard to tell apart Pakizim and his brother Pistikim, since both two-year-old cats have similar personalities.

“Both are inquisitive, affectionate and playful, rushing to greet you as you enter their enclosure to solicit attention with head butts and meows,” said Gina Hardter, a spokesperson with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. “But they are equally happy playing with a wide variety of toys together, with their goofy antics amusing everyone they meet.”

Through the month of December, it’s two for the price of none, because Pistikim and Pakizim’s adoption fees have been pre-paid by Priority Automotive as part of the AWLA’s Home for the Pawlidays event. Schedule time to meet them both at

(On left) Anna Fitzgerald with new owners of The Dog Park (705 King Street) Noelie Rickey and Markos Panas.(via Instagram)

Bread & Water Co. just got into the pet store business.

The restaurant company recently finalized its purchase of The Dog Park at 705 King Street. The dog and cat boutique has been owned and operated the last 12 years by Anna Franklin, who thanked her customers on Instagram

“As some of you may already know, I have officially sold The Dog Park,” Franklin wrote. “These past 12+ years have been more than I could have hoped.”

New owners Markos Panas, Noelle Rickey and Doug Abedje opened their first business, Bread and Water, in the Belle View Shopping Center. They also own Beeliner Diner in the Bradlee Shopping Center and the Bun Papa sandwich restaurants.

Rickey was a former veterinary technician for 10 years and has a lengthy background in retail.

“We have a lot of work to do, but my hope and goal is to make something that is successful, does good for the community and can grow,” Panas said. “This is all one day at a time, but I’m excited about the opportunities to be an active member of the community.”

Panas said that the deal has been months in the works, and that his partners also recently became members of the Chamber ALX and the Old Town Business Association.

“We’re going to offer food subscriptions with online ordering,” Panas said. “There’s also a dog grooming station built out in the back that has ever been used. So, we’re going to do something with that. We’re also going to do a lot of public events.”

Photo via The Dog Park/Instagram

Loki is up for adoption with the AWLA. (Courtesy photo)

Inquisitive cat Loki is up for adoption in Alexandria.

The four-year-old black and white male domestic short-haired cat isn’t as mischievous as his name suggests, said Gina Hardter, spokesperson with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

“Loki is the ultimate lapcat, and even in his current office environment, you can still generally find him on a staff lap in front of the computer,” Hardter said. “Loki’s also an inquisitive gent, who likes to know what’s going on in the world around him, whether it’s watching visitors at the door or checking out the birds through the window.”

Learn more about Loki by going to or calling 703-746-4774.

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Zen kitty Callie is looking for a new home in Alexandria.

The 13-year-old female domestic longhaired brown and gray tabby cat is up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

“Callie has gorgeous long fur, and would love the help of a personal stylist who can help her keep it brushed and fluffy,” said AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter. “Callie is the ultimate zen kitty, who would love to be by your side for a variety of calming activities, from reading a book to taking in a movie marathon to watching the world go by outside the window.”

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and Callie’s adoption fees are waived for the rest of the month. Schedule time to meet her by emailing [email protected] or calling 703-746-4774 (opt. 2).

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Little Lola looks good for being 12 years old. The black and white domestic short-haired cat looks and acts half her age, according to the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

November is National Adopt a Senior Pet Month, and all month long adoption fees are being lifted for AWLA’s senior pets.

“Lola has lived with cats her whole life (including the also adoptable Regina) and would be open to a variety of household types, including those with built-in feline friends,” said Gina Hardter, spokesperson for the AWLA. “As a super senior, Lola has years of best friend experience, and she’s happy to share that with her new human family.”

Schedule time to meet Lola by emailing [email protected] or calling 703-746-4774 (opt. 2).

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Like his name, hanging out with Whirlpool the cat is relaxing. The 17-month-old male gray tabby cat with piercing golden eyes is up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

Whirlpool is currently enjoying a stay with one of the AWLA’s foster caregivers, where he has built a collection of blanket nests throughout the home where you can find him lounging throughout the day.

“”Looking for someone to tell about your day?” asked AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter. “Once Whirlpool feels comfortable in his new home, he’s an affectionate fellow who loves to let his human friends know when it’s time for ear and chin scratches by gently butting them with his head.”

Learn more about Whirlpool and schedule time to meet him from his foster home by emailing [email protected] or calling 703-746-4774 (opt. 2).


Paws In The Park, Alexandria’s biggest annual animal-focused event is returning on Sunday (October 16).

More than 50 adoptable pets will be on-hand at Old Town’s Oronoco Bay Park (100 Madison Street) from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

“We’re talking about probably close to 50 adoptable animals, mostly dogs and cats,” said Animal Welfare League of Alexandria spokesperson Gina Hardter. “It’s gonna take over the entire park. It’s fun for the whole family stuff for kids. We’ve got stuff for adults and well behaved leashed pets are welcome as well.”

There will be music and food at the event, which is free to attend.

Participating shelter and rescue organizations:

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Bareil and Quark do everything together.

The bonded kitties are looking for a new home to share, and are up for adoption with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria.

Bareil is a seven-month-old gray and white male domestic short-haired kitten, and Quark is a seven-month-old male gray tabby.

“Like all young cats, they have a lot of energy and playfulness, and they are as happy playing with and entertaining each other as they are with their human friends, so they are great at keeping each other occupied when you’re busy,” said AWLA spokesperson Gina Hardter. “Their adorable antics are also so much fun to watch.”

Schedule time to meet this dynamic duo by visiting


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