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  • Writer's pictureSusan Houser

Rappahannock County, VA

Rappahannock County, Virginia, borders the Shenandoah mountains west of Washington, DC. It is a rural county with 7400 residents.

The county provides animal control and owns the animal shelter building, but contracts out operations to the Rappahannock Animal Welfare League (RAWL), a private non-profit. RAWL describes the arrangement as follows: “Within the delegation of responsibilities, Rappahannock County employs the animal control warden, provides and maintains an accessible kennel and office on county property, and pays RAWL a fee to operate the facility. From that point, RAWL assumes the balance of the responsibilities: staffing, management, daily care, supplies, veterinary trips, inoculations, arranging the reclaim of lost animals and coordinating adoptions.”

RAWL primarily takes in dogs. In addition to the dogs impounded by animal control, it accepts owner surrendered dogs subject to a waiting list. If the owner is a resident of Rappahannock County and cannot wait, RAWL will take in the dog immediately.

Rappahannock’s animal control, which is part of the sheriff’s department, does not pick up cats unless they are sick or injured. They treat the sick and injured cats and try to re-home them. A private rescue, RappCats, accepts owner surrendered cats subject to a waiting list when they are full. I spoke to a representative of RappCats, who told me that they have a small shelter for cats. They work with people to help keep cats in their homes or colonies.

In 2012, RAWL took in 253 dogs and had a live release rate of 96%. RappCats did not report its statistics to the state of Virginia in 2012. In 2013 both RAWL and RappCats reported to the state. The combined statistics, with intake of 371 cats and dogs, showed a live release rate of 96% for 2013. No animals were reported as having died in shelter care.



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