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.
Call City of Falls Church Animal Control at 703-248-5172 (TTY 711) or submit the Animal Control assistance form to report:
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.
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.
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.
City code prohibits residents from keeping wild and exotic animals. The term "wild or exotic animals" means any animal except:
Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article 1, Sec. 4-3 for more information.
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.
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.
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.
It is against the law to maliciously and purposely kill, maim, disfigure, torture, or injure any animal. All pets must be humanely treated with proper food, water, shelter, exercise, and emergency veterinarian care.
If you suspect someone is abusing animals, contact Animal Control at 703-248-5172 (TTY 711). Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article 1, Sec. 4-1 for more information.
Also known as stray or feral cats, community cats are unowned, free-roaming cats who live outdoors. While they may not have a specific owner, many community cats are monitored and cared for by members of the community. Virginia State law designates cats as free-roaming animals, and there are no state or City laws that pertain to the maintenance or removal of community cats. Do not call Animal Control about community cats, unless to report a severely ill or injured cat.
The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) Community Cat Program provides free spay/neuter surgery for community cats located in Arlington County and the City of Falls Church and supports their caretakers by supplying humane traps, food, vaccinations, and training. Please do not trap any cats before contacting AWLA. It is illegal for anyone, including Animal Control, to trap a healthy community cat for any reason, except for authorized AWLA Community Cat Program-related efforts.
Rabies is a preventable viral disease of mammals most often transmitted through the bite of a rabid animal. The vast majority of rabies cases reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) each year occur in wild animals such as raccoons, skunks, bats, and foxes. Squirrels, chipmunks, mice, rats, and rabbits rarely are affected by rabies and are not known to have transmitted rabies to humans.
If you suspect an animal is displaying signs of rabies, especially erratic walking (in circles, unsteady) or extreme lethargy, DO NOT approach the animal(s) and call the non-emergency Police line at 241-703-5053 (TTY 711).
Vaccinate your pets against rabies. Virginia State law and City of Falls Church ordinance require that all dogs and cats be vaccinated against rabies. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington (AWLA) offers low-cost rabies vaccinations at regularly scheduled clinics throughout the year. Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article II, Sec. 4-125 (dogs) and City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article II, Sec. 4-161 (cats) for more information.
Falls Church has an abundance of wild animals and it is normal for residents to occasionally encounter one. Urban wildlife is unique in the fact that the animals have adapted and become somewhat domesticated in this congested environment. Consequently, residents are more likely to encounter raccoons in their trash cans, possums at their bird feeders, or deer eating shrubbery. Often, these animals will show no fear and will not run when approached by humans. Learn more about our wild neighbors on the Humane Society of the United States website.
The City of Falls Church does not own or have any control of wild animals found within its boundaries, nor is the City responsible for the actions or damage caused by them. There are no laws, policies, or mandates requiring Animal Control to remove native, healthy wildlife from public or private property if they pose no real threat to humans or pets. It is against Falls Church code to trap any wild animal without a permit. This includes homeowners, professional trappers, pest control companies, and exterminators. Wild animals that are trapped must be relinquished to the Animal Control Officer, as they cannot be relocated out of Falls Church. Relocation of wild animals spreads disease and most likely will mean death for the animal, which has been removed from its natural territory. Please refer to City Code Part II, Chapter 4, Article 1, Sec. 4-1 for more information.
Please do not contact Animal Control to report a wildlife nuisance or encounter that poses no real threat to humans or pets, such as:
Examples of when to call Animal Control about wildlife include: