Animal Control

The Falls Church Animal Control Officer enforces city and state codes and laws dealing with animals and their control. The Animal Control Officer also investigates cruelty cases and can assist residents with wildlife concerns. The Animal Control Officer's primary function is to help and protect residents while dealing with animals as humanely as possible. The cooperation and assistance of all residents, however, is necessary to provide for good human and animal relationships in the community.

The City of Falls Church has one Animal Control Officer.  If the Animal Control Officer is not on duty, a patrol officer will be dispatched for reports of vicious animals or other dangerous situations. In all other cases, the Animal Control Officer will follow up on calls upon their return. 

Report an Animal Control Problem

Call City of Falls Church Animal Control at 703-248-5172 (TTY 711) or submit the Animal Control assistance form to report:

  • Animal bites
  • Animal cruelty or neglect
  • Sick or injured wildlife
  • Human exposure/encounters with potentially rabid wildlife

Animal Control does not respond to wildlife nuisances, such as deer in backyard, or wildlife encounters that pose no real threat to humans or pets. 

Animal Bites

If your pet bites any person or if an animal bites you, you must notify the Animal Control Officer or the Police Department immediately by calling 703-248-5172 (TTY 711). Any animal that has bitten a person shall be confined under competent observation for 10 days. If within these 10 days the animal shows signs of rabies infection, the animal must be humanely euthanized in order to test for rabies. Animal Control usually will allow an animal to be quarantined at home, away from other animals, under its owner’s supervision.

Deceased Pets or Wildlife

Pet owners are responsible for having their deceased pet's body cremated or buried. For disposal assistance, contact your veterinarian or the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA).

Remains of small wildlife, such as squirrels or wild birds, that die on private property should be double bagged and placed in the regular trash.

The Department of Public Works and Animal Control Officer will only pick up animal carcasses on public roadways or public property. They will not pick up deceased pets or small wildlife on private property.

Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article 1, Sec. 4-7 for more information.

Exotic Animals

City code prohibits residents from keeping wild and exotic animals. The term "wild or exotic animals" means any animal except:

  • Dogs, cats, hamsters, gerbils, guinea pigs, ferrets, turtles, tortoises, hermit crabs, and birds which are normally purchased through a pet store;
  • Goldfish and aquarium fish;
  • Nonvenomous snakes, less than eight feet in length; and,
  • Domestic hedgehogs, chinchillas, rabbits, mice, and rats which have been bred in captivity and which never have known the wild.

Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article 1, Sec. 4-3 for more information.

Leash and License Laws

Dogs must be leashed when on public property or the private property of others. It is against the law to allow your dog to run loose on city school grounds, City parks, and privately owned areas, including cemeteries. Falls Church does not currently have areas designated where dogs can run freely. Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article II, Sec. 4-40 for more information.

Dogs must be vaccinated against rabies and licensed with the City of Falls Church. Dog licenses, which are issued through the City's Treasurer's Office, must be obtained within 30 days of moving into the City of Falls Church. The application must be accompanied by a valid rabies vaccination certificate, plus certification from a veterinarian if the dog has been neutered. The license fee is $10 for fertile dogs or $5 for neutered/spayed dogs. The licenses are issued by the Treasurer's Office. Cats must also be vaccinated against rabies, however, a City license is not required. Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article II, Sec. 4-56 for more information.

Impounded Animals

If a dog is found running at large, an Animal Control Officer or Police Officer may apprehend and impound the dog at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (located at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Arlington, VA 22206). If ownership can be determined, the pet owner will be notified. The dog may be returned to the owner once an impoundment fee is paid and proof of current license and rabies vaccination is available. Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article 1, Sec. 4-5 for more information.

Pet Pantry

City of Falls Church residents are eligible for the Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) Pet Pantry Program, which provides pet care essentials (including food, enrichment items, and preventatives) to pet owners seeking assistance. There are no income requirements or applications required. Food and supplies can be picked up at the AWLA shelter (located at 2650 S. Arlington Mill Dr. Arlington, VA 22206) anytime during regular business hours.