The new Prince William County Animal Services Center will help shelter staff better care for the dogs, cats, birds, rodents, livestock and reptiles that come into the county’s care.
The new, 27,000-square-foot center replaces the 47-year-old shelter that the county outgrew years ago.
“The old shelter had a number of less-than-optimal qualities, that included inadequate housing space for animals, medical care limitations and a lack of storage for the feed, supplies and equipment needed to effectively, safely and successfully care for animals,” Prince William Board County Chair At-Large Ann Wheeler said at a recent ribbon cutting ceremony to officially open the center.
The Prince William Board of County Supervisors approved construction of the new center to meet the needs of the county that has grown significantly since 1975.
“As a board, we saw that county residents recognized the need for and wanted a new animal services center to provide the necessary support for all kinds of animals. The board heard the county citizens and voted to build the center,” Wheeler said.
The nine-room adoption center, located in the east wing of this modern facility, includes housing for 28 adoptable cats with additional group housing rooms for families of cats and 24 kennels for adoptable dogs. The west wing can house another 48 cats and 24 dogs with additional isolation housing dedicated to animals diagnosed with communicable illnesses during treatment. The center also has three rooms, including one for small mammals such as rabbits, Guinea pigs, hamsters and mice, along with one for birds and another for reptiles.
Additionally, the center’s visitation rooms allow people who are considering adoption with an area to interact with a potential pet. The new center also includes office space, flex space and playrooms and was built with an upgraded HVAC system to help reduce airborne diseases.
“The goal of the animal center is to meet the basic needs of animals in the county’s care until the animals can be reclaimed by their owners, fostered or placed in new homes,” Wheeler said. “Prince William County residents can be proud of this $16.7 million animal services center which will serve the county for years to come.”
The complex grounds also include a medical-grade barn with two stalls, four outdoor play yards for dogs and smaller outdoor play areas adjacent to the kennels. An on-site veterinarian suite at the center can provide medical care and surgery for animals.
The center partially opened in November 2021. The old shelter, which mainly rounded up stray homeless and lost animals, was demolished in January 2022 after the animals were moved to the new center.
“This new center will do so much more, from caring for sick and injured animals to providing the public with a better experience in the pet adoption process. The new center will have quarantine areas for sick and injured animals,” said Prince William County Coles District Supervisor Yesli Vega.
Volunteers help at the shelter and keep things going operationally. Volunteers walk dogs, clean kennels, wash dishes, greet customers, assist at the front desk, feed and water animals, along with many other chores that keep the shelter running smoothly. Last year, the volunteers dedicated 18,790 hours taking care of the animals.
“I … want everybody to know that this would not be here today without volunteers. There are 150 dedicated volunteers that have made this shelter work in tough times,” said Prince William County Brentsville District Supervisor Jeanine Lawson, a long-time advocate for the new shelter. “I often think that societies are judged and will be judged by history … by how we care for our animals and this shelter is a long step forward in the process.”
In 2020 and 2021, animal shelter staff responded to 12,400 calls related to animal control, Prince William County Police Chief Peter Newsham told the crowd of about 150 who gathered at the shelter for the ribbon-cutting ceremony. “In 2021, our team and cadre of volunteers took in over 3,000 animals. They reunited 531 lost animals with their owners. They fostered 528 animals and facilitated ... 2,049 animal adoptions. As you know, this center is a full-service open-admission shelter which means we receive and accept animals of all types and in all conditions.”
The new center will meet the ever-growing needs of animal care services as the county continues to grow.
“This is a facility which will be dedicated to the compassionate care of animals in our county,” Newsham said of the center that falls under police operations. “We celebrate this modern and cutting-edge facility that will allow us to safely and better serve all those who walk, hop and crawl through its doors.”
“We hope that as county residents visit our facility, they will see the investment in the future of animal care,” said Prince William Animal Control Bureau Division Chief Anthony Cleveland. “The opening of the Prince William County Animal Services Center represents a leap forward in the level of care that Prince William can offer. It represents the county’s commitment to creating a more humane community.”
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