Alexandria Certified as a 'Better City for Pets' – Alexandria Living Magazine

In addition to the honor, Alexandria is receiving a grant to help people and their pets stay together when times are tough.
Jan. 22, 2022
Photo by Alison Lane Photography
Highlighting what Alexandria pet owners already know, Mars Petcare has certified the City of Alexandria as a “Better City for Pets.” 
Only a few dozen cities in the United States receive the designation and Alexandria is the only Virginia community to receive it.
“The certification takes into account a variety of factors in its assessment, including clean and hygienic park spaces that allow animals, the number of veterinary and other pet care providers, pet-friendly housing, businesses that allow pets and the presence of a safe and welcoming animal shelter that supports pet and their owners,” Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA) officials explained. 
“Alexandria is a community dedicated to its animals, and this certification demonstrates what we already knew: That we are a city where pets and their people are welcome as visitors or residents,” said Stella Hanly, Executive Director of the AWLA.
Along with this certification, the AWLA was also awarded a Vision Award grant by Mars Petcare to fund activities through 2023 to study and expand the availability of pet-friendly housing across the city.
“This year, the BETTER CITIES FOR PETS grant program focused on keeping people and their pets together, knowing the unprecedented challenges facing families throughout the pandemic,” said Jam Stewart, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, Mars Petcare North America, in a release. “Our new research shows that the financial and health stressors affecting many people may force some pet parents to make the difficult decision to surrender their pets. As part of our global ambition to end pet homelessness, it’s our goal to keep as many people together with their pets as possible, which this year’s grant recipients are actively helping to address this.”
The AWLA already offers a variety of programs to help keep beloved pets in their homes, such as the AWLA’s Community Pet Pantry, which in 2021 provided more than 50,000 pounds of pet food and supplies to pet owners and animal rescues across the region. Community Wellness Events and Vaccine Clinics offer free or low-cost vaccinations and microchips for pets, as well as working with other community groups to provide human support services like shelf-stable groceries and even vaccinations against COVID-19. Additional services offered include the AWLA Pet Behavior Hotline, grooming assistance and Crisis Care, for pet owners undergoing emergencies. The Mars Petcare grant will give the AWLA the opportunity to work with the community to expand the housing available to pets and the people who love them.
Alexandria has an estimated 80,000 pets and boasts a wide variety of unique and pet-friendly amenities. The city has 18 dog parks and exercise areas, both fenced and unfenced. Alexandria has also installed pet waste stations throughout the city to ensure that no matter how owners exercise with their dogs, they can easily pick up after their pets.
In addition, Alexandria has a wide variety of pet-friendly things to do, including several new businesses that cater to pets. 
New this year, Old Town Alexandria’s waterfront will host the inaugural ALX Dog Walk event on Apr. 2.  The newly-open Happy Cat Hotel and Spa and coming-soon indoor dog park and bar Snouts & Stouts join many local businesses including dog-friendly restaurant, bar and dog park Barkhaus; Mount Purrnon Cat Café + Wine Bar; and specialty dog-and-cat boutique The Dog Park.
Many Alexandria restaurants, including Cameron Café, Hops N Shine, Lost Dog Café, Lena’s Wood-Fired Pizza + Tap, Sonoma Cellar and Vola’s Dockside Grill have patios where pooches are welcome and feature special dog menus.  
Jan. 22, 2022
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