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Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter Works to Save the Lives of Animals

| November 07, 2018
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People in the DMV (District of Columbia, Maryland and Northern Virginia) love their pets.

According to a survey of Amazon customers, the Washington D.C. region came in at No. 6 in the nation for U.S. cities where residents pamper their pets the most.

But who takes care of those animals who don’t have a loving home and affectionate owners?

EBW Life recently sat down with Celia Flye, the executive director of Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, to discuss the non-profit organization she works for which helps provide emergency medical care, behavior training, parasite prevention, dental care and spay/neuter for thousands of sheltered pets.  

In 2017, her organization provided $231,178 in shelter funding (helping subsidize the medical costs of sheltered animals Fairfax County otherwise wouldn’t be able to provide), treating a total of 988 dogs and puppies, as well as 1,198 cats and kittens.

Q:  Tell us about your organization and the goal of Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter.

A: Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter is the fundraising partner of our County’s municipal animal shelter. With a limited budget intended to meet the basic needs of the roughly 5,000 pets received each year, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter simply cannot fulfill all the costly, life-saving and preventative procedures some pets need. By funding medical and dental care, behavioral training, parasite prevention and a variety of adoption initiatives, Friends join in the Shelter’s mission to ensure every pet is offered the best opportunity to find and remain in a loving forever home.

 Q:  What is the difference between your organization and the Fairfax County Animal Shelter? What do you do that they don't do? 

A: Indeed, without Friends, our County Shelter would continue to offer care to each of the dogs, cats, rabbits, birds and other domestic animals are taken in each year. The Shelter would continue to fulfill basic veterinary needs, and ensure all dogs and cats are spayed/neutered and rabies vaccinated prior to adoption. A compassionate staff, with the support of a robust volunteer network, would continue to fulfill pet’s socialization needs. And the County would continue to offer its resident’s dogs and cats opportunities for low-cost spay/neuter. However, without Friends, many deserving Shelter pets would not receive the life-saving medical care, behavioral training, dental treatment, nor the preventative care that ensured their opportunity to find a loving forever home. Without Friends, a lack of funding would prevent countless adoptable pets from living a full and fulfilling life.

Q: Where does the funding for Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter come from?

A: In 2006, a small group of animal-loving citizens was alerted to the extremely difficult and painful decisions Shelter leadership was forced to make due to lack of funding. Each of the six citizens contributed $100, and hundreds of hours in research, paperwork, planning and community activism, to form the 501(c)(3) nonprofit Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter. In that first year, their efforts - including an inaugural fundraising event, Cinco de Meow – raised $10,000 to provide life-saving medical care to pets that would have otherwise faced euthanasia. Since then, Friends has saved many more lives, promoted adoptions, eased pain, and improved wellness for thousands of animals to prepare for their forever families. In addition to the vital support of volunteers, it has been with the financial support of individuals that Friends’ work has been possible. Year over year, our community’s trust in Friends has grown, as has their financial support grown. This has included several generous legacy gifts. Friends have also received important project funding from animal advocacy organization, foundations and corporations have also been indispensable in the achievement of Friends’ mission. Notwithstanding, in a growing county with an underfunded Shelter, Friends will continue to rely on a growing base of support to continue its good work.

Q: Tell us about some of the more rewarding work/stories the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter has performed. 

A: A Full Recovery for a Full Life: Canine parvovirus is a highly contagious, life-threatening, viral disease that that is especially fatal in puppies. When an adorable eight-week-old pup named Ludwig came to the Shelter and was diagnosed with the virus, he was immediately placed into quarantine. Successfully beating parvo means around the clock veterinary care that includes the provision of intravenous fluid, medication and careful monitoring. Funding such expensive medical treatment for a single puppy compromises the Shelter’s ability to best serve the abundance of pets that come through its doors. Fortunately, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter’s fundraising partner was able to step in. With funding from Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, Ludwig received the treatment he so critically needed, and following several touch-and-go days, the sweet pup was recovered from the aggressive virus. Today, Ludwig is loving life with his forever family. He is adorable, mischievous and an absolute delight to his people.

A Letter to Friends from Ariel the Kitten (with a little help from her adopters): “When I was brought to the Shelter as a tiny kitten (with GIANT ears), I was scared and hurt. I did not have a great start in life, being found on the side of the beltway (so scary!) with a severely injured leg… I was tired, terrified and untrusting. Thanks to the quick work of the Shelter, my amazing foster parents, and the incredible funding you provided, I had my injured leg removed and was shown nothing but love and kindness during my recovery…. Now I run faster than an Olympian, jump higher than a kangaroo, and purr louder than a jet engine! Thank you for all you do for scared and vulnerable animals like me. Thank you for giving my furrever family the greatest gift ever… ME!”

Dachshund Defeats Disability: Jiggles, a joyful, smiley, adorable little pup, was surrendered to the Shelter after he suffered an unknown injury that caused him to lose the use of his back legs. Jiggles collapsed when he tried to walk. The Shelter vet recommended time for rest and recuperation with a foster family. However, time did not offer much improvement. Though he was soon able to maneuver quite speedily using just his front legs and extraordinary determination, without treatment, his unusual amble would inevitably lead to secondary damage. Friends funded a recommended regimen of acupuncture and hydrotherapy (swimming). By now, the sweet, wiggly, can-do Jiggles had become the Shelter darling. An entire team of volunteers stepped up to transport Jiggles to his Friends-funded therapy sessions and spent hours learning and administering the additional recommended physical therapy. About a week into his treatments, it was clear that the combination of acupuncture, hydrotherapy and physical therapy were doing the trick! Jiggles was back on all four, cruising ahead of the volunteers who walked him. Soon, he was adopted by a compassionate forever family, ready with a full dose of love and patience.

For more information on the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, visit or call Celia Flye at 571-212-9858. You can email her at


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