Arlington Animal Control sees spike in abandonment, neglect cases

Arlington County’s Animal Control Chief is concerned and warning residents after seeing a recent spike in abandonment and neglect cases. 

Chief Jennifer Toussaint tells FOX 5 in years past, they maybe saw one of these cases a year. Now, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington is investigating at least 14 concerning cases in just the past several weeks.

One involves a dog dying about two weeks ago, after being left in a car on a day that started with temperatures in the 60s – and rising to the 80s by midday. 

In at least two other cases, dogs were abandoned at the entrance of the AWLA’s shelter. One of those dogs is microchipped, so animal control officers found the owner and found at least two other emaciated dogs. 

When dogs are that malnourished, they’re at risk of organ failure.

Image 1 of 4

Arlington Animal Control sees spike in abandonment, neglect cases

Animal Control also found a Shih-Tzu dog named Kody as a stray. He had matted hair and pressure sores all over his body. 

Chief Toussaint believes some of the issues contributing to the abnormal spike include pet owners knowing shelters across the country are packed. She also believes pet owners want to help their animals but are concerned they will be judged. 

"But we ask that people not wait until it gets too late," said Arlington Animal Control Chief, Jennifer Toussaint, "We, like everything we’ve mentioned, have resources for that. We have a pet pantry, which is a no-judgement, no questions asked program. Come down and get food if that’s the concern. Maybe your pet has a sudden medical emergency – you don’t have funds for it – reach out, we have a program to support you getting your pet [to the vet]. Please just don’t want because when people wait, that’s when the animal control side of law enforcement comes in, and we have to move in for the safety for the animals."

Other animals abandoned or neglected include a kitten and Guinea pigs. It’s not just happening to dogs. 

Chief Toussaint is pleading with pet owners to please visit the shelter and speak with the AWLA workers if they truly need assistance. She tells FOX 5 they and other shelters are non-judgment locations.

Just leaving your animal at the shelter without speaking with AWLA workers, means the staff does not get important information needed to properly care for the pet. It could also spark an investigation. 

Those seeking pet medical or food assistance from the AWLA location are asked to live in Arlington County or Falls Church City. However, the point is to help the animals. FOX 5 is told someone seeking help will not be turned away, but they will also go home with information on how to contact their area’s shelter.