Overview of Programs

The Washington Animal Rescue League sets a new global standard in animal welfare.

Since its creation in 1914, The Washington Animal Rescue League has been a leader in the field of animal welfare, caring for homeless and abused animals in our nation’s capital and placing them in loving adoptive homes. A private, not-for-profit organization, the League relies solely on private donations and volunteer efforts to support its rescue work. Through the generosity of the public, the League has consistently been able to create and maintain the highest standards in all it does.

In 2005 through 2006, the League underwent a revolutionary transformation, making it one of the world’s most progressive animal rehabilitation centers. The renovated shelter is designed entirely from the animals’ point of view to promote the physical, mental, and social healing of animals recovering from a previous life of trauma.

Steel-bar cages have been replaced with glass enclosed doggie dens, cat condos, and puppy pads—a more humane, efficient, and responsible way to shelter homeless animals. Each of the animals enjoys the best care possible, daily training and socialization support from staff and volunteers, and state-of-the-art veterinary care at the on-site medical center. Because it is bright, attractive, and filled with healthy and social animals living in comfortable living rooms, potential adopters find the League to be a welcoming place to visit and choose a companion animal.

“The renovated Washington Animal Rescue League is one of the best case examples of the innovations in the animal sheltering field.” Wayne Pacelle, President & CEO, The Humane Society of the United States

For more information on each of the League's programs, please click on their titles in blue:

Vounteering for the League

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

Pets for Patriots

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 veteran and service members of the United States military.  The Washington Animal Rescue League offers veterans a 50% discount for dog adoption and a waived adoption fee for cats.

Wellness Clinics

Every Wednesday evening from noon to 6 p.m., our Medical Center offers a walk-in wellness clinic.

Veterinary Services

The Washington Animal League Medical Center provides veterinary care to all families with companion animals in the national capital area.  Regardless of income level, the Washington Animal Rescue League’s Medical Center is opening its doors to everyone in the metropolitan region. Considered one of the top veterinary clinics in the area, WARL’s medical team is experienced in a broad range of medical care, treating more than 5,000 pets each year as well as our “temporary” residents, our shelter animals.
An added benefit to being a Washington Animal Rescue League Medical Center client: using our veterinary services directly supports the rescue and care of homeless animals that we shelter and find homes for.

Behavioral Rehabilitation

More animals are surrendered to shelters for behavior problems than for any other reason. And once an animla is in a shelter, these same problems prevent them from getting a second home. The League’s behavior and training team can help. And since we often rescue animals from traumatic situations—puppy mills, hoarding situations, dogfighting rings, natural disasters, and other cruelty cases—the trainers are frequently called upon to help animals overcome serious problems before they can get adopted.


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

Dog Training

The 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. http://www.warl.org/images/uploads/Local_Dog_Trainers.pdf

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 League provides low-cost spay/neuter for cats and dogs of income-qualified people living in the District of Columbia.


With as many as 150 dogs and cats available at any given time, the 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, the League is 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 League has offered low-cost veterinary care to the animal companions of our low-income neighbors. In 1996, it 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 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 League and the Medical Center. Additionally, its Web site contains extensive educational materials and the League makes 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 WARL from local animal control agencies as well as some as far away as the Gulf Coast. More than half of the animals whom the League takes in 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. For more information, please visit http://www.warl.org/GuardianAngels.

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