Your little animal lover has been begging (and begging ) you for puppy. If you’re ready to oblige—your kid also promised to feed and walk the new family member (!!!)—but don’t know where to start, read on. We’ve rounded up six local adoption centers and animal shelters filled with rescues that you’ll feel good about visiting. As for kiddo? She’ll probably just lose her mind.
The Washington Animal Rescue League
In the animal rescue facility version of a makeover, in 2006 the Washington Animal Rescue League underwent a transformation that encourages all aspects of the animals’ well-being to aid in the rehabilitation process. Dogs and cats have their own glass-enclosed homes, called cute names like “Puppy Pads” and “Cat Condos,” and classical music (yes, really!) comforts the animals along with three walks a day and lots of toys. There can be up to 350 pets there at any point, so make sure you clear your schedule for the day and get ready to play with some adorable pups and kitties!
71 Oglethorpe St., NW (Manor Park)
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue
Not only does Homeward Trails rescue animals from shelters that are high-kill, but last year they opened the first and only cageless animal shelter in Northern Virginia. Are you worried that you won’t be able to judge a dog’s personality on one or two visits? At the HT Adoption Center, you can actually see a potential dog interacting with other dogs and playing outside, which will help you make a better decision about which dog is the best fit for your home. Since 2002, Homeward Trails has rescued more than 16,000 homeless animals! Adoption locations change, so check their website for upcoming events near you.
The Humane Society
If you’re looking for two cats instead of one, the Humane Society always offers two cats for one adoption fee because they have twice as many cats in their care than dogs. They are the open access shelter in D.C., so when an animal needs a home, they take it in without question—even recently including some peacocks! And if you are an active or veteran military member, the Humane Society will give you 50% off your adoption fee. But don’t think a good deal gets you less—every pet you adopt has been spayed/neutered, vaccinated, and microchipped!
1201 New York Ave., NE (NoMa)
Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation
As you traipse through the aisles of a local pet shop trying to figure out which leash to buy, which pet food to select, and which toys your new pup or kitty might prefer, the last thing you want to worry about is whether the pets are neutered/spayed and whether they have their shots. At the Lost Dog & Cat Rescue Foundation, they make sure all of these details are taken care of before you even arrive to pick your pet. This nonprofit also runs Lost Dog & Cat Ranch, 61 acres of land in Virginia where dogs can run around and play and cats can experience a cage-free life. Adoption locations change, so check their website for upcoming events at PetSmart and PetCo stores near you.
Animal Welfare League of Arlington
If your kiddo has an unusual pet request, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is the right shelter for you. They take not only cats and dogs, but all pets, including gerbils, birds, guinea pigs, and even rats! For dogs and certain other animals they have a more thorough adoption process, including having every member of the family meet the pet before you take it home and meeting any current dogs you already have first, but these are necessary steps to make sure they help you find the perfect new member of your family.
2650 South Arlington Mill Dr. (Arlington, Va.)
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue
Lucky Dog Animal Rescue dogs and cats come from all around the country. Unlike some of the other facilities on this list, Lucky Dog’s animals are all in foster care, so you can potentially meet the temporary parent of your future pet and ask questions at one of their events throughout D.C. In a process befitting the nation’s capital, in order to adopt one of their pets, you need an interview, vet check, and a home visit before you can officially own your dog or cat. In return, however, you know more about the animal you’re adopting and can ask more questions about its behavior and needs. Adoption locations change, so check their website for upcoming events.
Have you found an amazingly sweet pet for your family? Tell us about it in the comments section below.
—Kelly Ann Jacobson