Fairfax County Animal Shelter

Fairfax, Virginia

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About Fairfax County Animal Shelter

Fairfax County Animal Shelter is devoted to caring for every animal that needs help regardless of their breed, age, size, or temperament. It's this open-door policy coupled with their progressive practices that makes them stand out from other municipal shelters. They give every animal a chance to find a loving home and will never euthanize for reasons such as a lack of space or because an animal hasn't been adopted for a long period of time.

Most of their animals are brought in by Animal Control and owners who can no longer look after their pets (or simply don't want to). Regardless of where these vulnerable souls come from, Fairfax County Animal Shelter provides them with the care and love they deserve.

Additional services offered by the shelter includes dog licensing, low-cost spay/neuter, vaccination referral services, lost and found support, and surrender services.

Contact Info

4500 W Ox Rd
(703) 830-1100
Website: fairfaxcounty.gov/animalshelter

Hours of Operation

Tue - Fri: 12:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Sat - Sun: 10:00 am - 5:00 pm

Adoption Process

To adopt a pet from Fairfax County Animal Shelter, you must meet the following criteria:

  • Be at least 18 years old
  • Have permission to keep the pet (a lease agreement or proof of home ownership is required)
  • Have a rabies vaccination certificate for all the cats and dogs living in your home
  • Have a license for all your dogs (if you're a Fairfax County resident)

All pets available for adoption at Fairfax County Animal Shelter can be viewed on their Petango page. If you fall in love with any of the adorable pets, here's what you need to do:

  1. Complete an adoption questionnaire, which you should email to the shelter.
  2. Once received, you'll be added to the list for the particular furry friend you're interested in.
  3. Visit the shelter in person to speak with their amazing staff, who will discuss any important details regarding your pet's medical information, history, behavior, and temperament to ensure you're a perfect match for one another.
  4. If you're adopting a dog and already have one (or more) at home, you may have to bring them along to meet their new brother or sister.
  5. If everything checks out, complete the paperwork, pay the fee, and bring your new pet home!

Fairfax County Animal Shelter doesn't offer foster-to-adopt programs and can't place holds on pets.

Adoption Fees

Adoption fees at Fairfax County Animal Shelter are as follows:


  • Puppies (2-6 months): $175
  • Adults (7+ months): $125
  • Seniors (6+ years): $100


  • Kittens (2-6 months): $125
  • Adults (7+ months): $75
  • Seniors (6+ years): $50


  • Small (finches and parakeets): $10
  • Medium (lovebirds and small parrots): $50
  • Large (cockatoos and African grey parrots): $100

Other Animals

  • Rabbits: $15
  • Ferrets: $15
  • Guinea pigs, rates, and mice: $5
  • Reptiles: $10
  • Livestock and barn animals (goats, geese, ducks, and pigs): $20
  • Equine and bovine: $200

Your adoption fee covers spay/neuter surgery, rabies, distemper, and bordetella vaccinations, microchipping, deworming, tick and flea treatment, a heartworm test, a personalized tag, a collar, a certificate allowing you to take your pet to a participating veterinarian for a checkup, and an information packet. Cats are also tested for FIV/FeLV.

Adoption Process & Fees

Our writing team is hard at work researching this shelter's adoption process and fees, so this page will be updated soon!

In the meantime, here's some nice-to-know info that applies to nearly every animal shelter, humane society, and rescue.

Why Rescue A Shelter Dog?

Because shelter dogs are full of love!

Is it because they know you saved them and love you harder for it?

I can't say for certain, but yes.

Jokes aside, there are three things all shelter dogs need to thrive in their new home:

  1. Love
  2. Patient
  3. Training

Older shelter dogs, generally 1+ years old, may have experienced a lot of trauma, which often results in one of 8 common behavioral issues:

  1. Anxiety
  2. Aggression toward people & pets
  3. Resource guarding
  4. Destructive behavior
  5. Housetraining regression
  6. Poor social skills
  7. Leash reactivity & barrier-related aggression
  8. Constant whining

These issues are correctable! Your dog isn't broken, they're just damaged. You can fix them with enough love, patience, and a good training plan.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, finding good dog trainers can be hard. Like everything else, dog training is moving only. but there are great online dog trainers that are proven to work and can help get your new pup on the right path.

Animal Shelter vs Humane Society vs Rescue: What's the Difference?

You can learn a lot about an animal welfare organization just by looking at their name.

Animal Shelters

  • Most Animal Shelters are city or county-run organizations, often operated by the local Animal Control department, that manage strays and handle owner surrenders.
  • They usually have kennel facilities you can visit to adopt animals, and they usually have less stringent adoption requirements, lower adoption fees, and same-day adoptions (because their goal is to get animals out of the shelter).
  • Unfortunately, they usually know very little about each animal, including their true personalities and any behavioral problems.

Humane Societies

  • Most Humane Societies are non-profit organizations, many of which are no-kill shelters.
  • Some (but not all) are affiliated with The Humane Society of the United States.
  • They exist to improve animal welfare in the local community and often partner with city or county-run Animal Shelters that often euthanize animals due to capacity restraints.
  • They usually have kennel facilities, sometimes at multiple locations, and usually offer other services to the community such as low-cost spay/neuter clinics, community education programs, and more.
  • They may also have some animals in foster care.
  • There's a lot of variation in process and fees among Humane Societies, but they usually have really good websites that detail everything for you.


  • Most Rescues are foster-based organizations that don't have physical facilities.
  • They usually have websites and contact emails, but not all of them have phone numbers.
  • Because they don't have a physical facility, you need to view animals in their foster network online, usually on their website but sometimes on their member pages on either PetFinder or Adopt-a-Pet.
  • If you see an animal you'd like to meet, contact the rescue using the process listed on their website or via email. They'll help you through the application process and set up a time for you to meet the animal at the foster's home.
  • Adopting from a rescue generally is the most expensive option here and takes the longest, but you get an animal that's been cared for in a loving home environment and their foster can tell you a lot about their personality.

6 Tips to Improve Your Adoption Experience

Adoption processes vary drastically from organization to organization, but here are some general tips that apply in most instances. Note that we'll use the term "shelters" here for simplicity but it includes all types of rescue organizations.

  1. See an animal online that you'd like to meet? Call the shelter before your visit to make sure the animal is still available. This especially applies for puppies, which are adopted out quickly.
  2. Usually, you'll need to get some paperwork in order: a photo ID, vaccination/medical records for any pets you currently have, possibly your vet's contact info and a couple of personal references, and (for renters) proof you're allowed to have a pet (copy of your lease or your landlord's contact info).
  3. If you need to provide contact info for your vet, let your vet know ahead of time. Otherwise, they may not release your information.
  4. Many shelters require your current dogs to meet adoptive dogs. Your current dogs need to be up-to-date on vaccinations.
  5. Some shelters require you to schedule a home visit to ensure a suitable living environment for the new animal.
  6. Adoption fees may seem excessive, but they're actually amazing values. Truthfully, caring for a pet is expensive. Most adoption fees include required medical care to get the animal ready for their new home including (but not limited to) spay/neuter surgery, vaccinations, general vet exams, flea/tick treatment, deworming, heartworm testing/treatment for dogs, and feline leukemia and feline AIDS testing/treatment for cats. In general, your adoption fee is less than the cost of this care, so you're saving money in addition to your new animal's life!

If you have any questions about adopting an animal (what you'll need, what to expect, etc.) feel free to contact the PetLists team!

For more information about what's included in your adoption fee, or any other questions about the adoption process, reach out to
Fairfax County Animal Shelter
directly using the contact info above.

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All information on this page is accurate and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge. If you spot an error, please contact us using our contact form.
Note: Hours of operation and other information on this page are subject to change during the COVID-19 pandemic.