Programs & Impact

The Washington Animal Rescue League:

Setting the standard for animal welfare for 100 years.


4StAndMDAveSWFor 100 years, the Washington Animal Rescue League has rescued the dogs, cats, puppies, and kittens that had nowhere else to go.  As the oldest animal shelter in the Nation’s Capital, WARL has rescued, cared for, and found loving homes for more than 100,000 animals.

The Washington Animal Rescue League’s national reputation is renowned.  WARL was named one of the United State’s Top Ten Emergency Placement Partners by the Humane Society of the United States and won its division of the national  ASPCA Adoption Challenge in 2013.  Also in 2013, WARL set a record by adopting out more than 2,000 animals.


The Washington Animal Rescue League constantly evolves to remain at the forefront of animal welfare.  From the organization’s initial years at a small Capitol Hill location in 1914, to a state-of-the-art sheltering facility with a full-service medical center today, WARL’s  evolution has been extraordinary.  A planned future expansion  will increase WARL’s sheltering capacity by more than 100 percent, marking a significant project for the next 100 years.

ItsNotTheirCutenessPerhaps most impressive is the Washington Animal Rescue League’s mission to foster the human-animal bond.  The only animal shelter in the Washington, DC region with a full-service medical center, WARL’s veterinary staff not only treats the temporary residents of the shelter, but also serves as a resource for area residents who struggle to financially afford veterinary care for their pets.  The discounted medical care for income-qualified residents, low-cost vaccinations and spay/neuter surgeries, and WARL’s Pet Food Bank for those who cannot afford to feed their pets are examples of the organization’s connection and service to the community.

All of this is accomplished as a private, non-profit organization that operates entirely on donations, taking no government funds or tax dollars.

For more information on each of WARL’s programs, see below:

Pets for Patriots

The Washington Animal Rescue League has partnered with Pets for Patriots, Inc., a not-for-profit that connects last-chance shelter pets with our country’s loyal service men and women to increase the adoption of adult and other at-risk homeless pets by veterans and active  service members of the United States military.  WARL offers veterans a 50 percent discount for dog adoption and a waived adoption fee for cats.

Veterinary Services

The Washington Animal Rescue League Medical Center accepts canine and feline patients by appointment only. If you make less than $55,000 annually, you may qualify for discounted veterinary services at WARL.

Wellness Wednesdays

In our continuing efforts to offer a full range of services to our clients, the Washington Animal Rescue League has established “Wednesday Wellness” clinics.  For detailed information on our Wellness Clinics, click here.


Hundreds of dedicated individuals help the Washington Animal Rescue League’s homeless animals by training dogs, socializing cats, counseling adopters, and performing numerous other tasks at our shelter and medical center. WARL offers regular orientation-and-training sessions for both new and seasoned volunteers.

Dog Training

The Washington Animal Rescue League offers a range of positive reinforcement dog training classes. Class tuition is deliberately kept affordable to encourage people to train their dogs using the most modern, humane, and effective methods.

Boomers’ Buddies

Our program “Boomers’ Buddies” is designed to help our fabulous senior pets find homes faster and to encourage people of all ages to adopt.  Adopters 50 years of age and older that adopt dogs and cats 5 years old and older will have their adoption fees waived!

Spay and Neuter

Each year, millions of dogs and cats are euthanized in U.S. shelters due to a lack of resources and adopters. Millions more are abandoned to die on city streets and country roads.

In response to this pet overpopulation crisis, the Washington Animal Rescue League provides low-cost spay/neuter surgeries for cats and dogs of income-qualified residents of the Washington, DC metropolitan area.


With as many as 150 dogs and cats available at any given time, the Washington Animal Rescue League is one of the largest companion animal adoption centers in the country. All of the animals receive full medical and behavioral evaluations, and our adoption staff is adept at working with people to ensure their new family member’s successful transition into a permanent, loving home.

After the adoption, WARLis always there to help with behavior consultations, positive reinforcement dog training classes, and any other advice an adopter may need.

Love Fund

The Love Fund provides medical care for seriously sick and injured animals in our shelter.  Each year the fund assists hundreds of animals suffering from fractures, infectious diseases, and other life-threatening conditions. The Love Fund is supported entirely through the generous donations of concerned individuals.

Project Rescue

Our mission mandates that we “strengthen and preserve the human-animal bond by supporting animals in their homes.”  Consequently, we are responding emphatically to the current economic crisis with Project Rescue, an array of services that provide support for families and individuals who are finding it difficult to care for their pets in this challenging economic climate. Click the above link for a full list of the critical services we provide.

Medical Center

Since 1932, the Washington Animal Rescue League has offered low-cost veterinary care to the animal companions of our low-income neighbors. In 1996, we opened a busy, full-service, on-site veterinary clinic and medical center to serve both these clients and the shelter animals awaiting new homes. The medical center was completely renovated and expanded in 2006.  Its veterinarians, who are known both for their skill and compassion, currently treat about 7,000 animals each year. Financial assistance is available to those who qualify.

Humane Education

An essential component of the Washington Animal Rescue League’s mission is to educate the public on the needs of companion animals and to inspire people to treat all living beings with care, compassion, and respect.

The Humane Education curriculum was developed to teach children in third through eighth grades about animal overpopulation, spaying and neutering, proper care for companion animals, the role of animal shelters, and co-existence with wildlife.

Outreach and education for adults happens informally whenever people telephone or visit the shelter or medical center. Additionally, our web site contains extensive educational materials and we make written information available in the form of free handouts and books for sale.

ShARE Partnership for Life

Many animal shelters across the country are faced with the same crisis: a lack of space, adopters, and resources to accommodate the thousands of homeless animals who come through their doors. The Shelter Animal Relief Effort (ShARE) provides relief and hope by transferring animals to the Washington Animal Rescue League from local animal control agencies as well as some as far away as the Gulf Coast. More than half of the animals taken in by WARL come from such shelters.

Guardian Angels Program

Many of us worry about what might happen to our companion animals should we become unable to care for them. We may not know anyone who is willing and able to provide a good alternative home for our beloved canine and feline family members. Now, the Washington Animal Rescue League’s Guardian Angels program can help by finding new caretakers for the pets of donors who are either incapacitated or deceased.