Homeward Trails Animal Rescue is a non-profit 501(c)(3) organization that provides pet adoption in Virginia, Washington, DC and Maryland. We find homes for dogs and cats rescued from low-income, rural animal shelters or whose owners can no longer care for them.
Homeward Trails started by accident! In December 2001, Founder Sue Bell was vacationing in Fayette County, WV when she happened upon the local animal shelter. During a quick stop to drop off biscuits, she was told the sad history of this shelter. Their facility had been hit by a flash flood a few months prior, drowning more than 50 animals. Now operating out of a small trailer, the shelter had little space to house the animals and the euthanasia rate was almost 98%.
Bell and her husband decided to rescue three dogs that day, setting into motion a future no one could predict. Once back in the DC area, the three dogs – Brown Dog, Black Dog and Lucy were “put up for adoption” via e-mails to friends and ads in local papers. In just one week, all had homes. But the calls and e-mails kept coming from folks asking Bell to help them find a pet.
Recognizing a demand from local animal lovers and a large supply of animals in Fayette County, Bell began driving the 6 hour one-way trip every weekend to bring dogs and cats back to DC for adoption. At first, the goal was just to rescue 50 animals in honor of those that drowned in the shelter flood.
Now, 19 years later and more than 30,000 animals rescued, Homeward Trails is going strong and has no plans of stopping until every homeless dog and cat out there can be assured of a loving home.
Homeward Trails seeks to find permanent adoptive homes in the Mid-Atlantic Region for dogs and cats from under resourced shelters or whose owners can no longer care for them. In so doing, we seek to reduce the rate of euthanasia of adoptable animals through the rescue and placement of homeless animals; to support proactive spay/neuter practices; to promote positive and ongoing behavioral training; and to educate the public about how to care for their animals in a humane way. Homeward Trails not only facilitates adoptions from local shelters, but also supports a large network of foster care providers who take homeless dogs and cats into their homes, care for them, rehabilitate them when needed, and prepare them for their permanent adoptive homes.
Sadly, without our help, all of these adoptable animals would face almost certain euthanasia – usually within days or hours of our rescuing them. Each year we take in hundreds of wonderful animals who were left at shelters by no fault of their own.
Many are puppies and kittens – innocent victims of irresponsible pet owners who don’t practice spay/neuter. Many are abandoned hunting dogs who served their owners well and were dumped in woods or left at shelters when they were no longer wanted. Many are house pets whose owners simply grew tired of caring for them or moved and did not take them along. And even more are animals that have been injured, abused and neglected. Whatever the reasons, these animals all deserve better. And once with Homeward Trails, they get better!
1. To always operate in the best interest of the animals we take into our program and to advocate for the proper care of those in shelters and in private homes;
2. To provide quality care for the animals we take in for as long as they are in our program and to provide ongoing support to our adopters;
3. To always maintain a manageable number of animals in our system whereby we can ensure proper medical care, behavioral training and housing for the animals;
4. To rescue the widest array of dogs and cats by avoiding general discrimination based on breed, age, and health;
5. To provide our shelter partners and their communities with resources that will result in the highest level of care for their animals, an increase in spay/neuter surgeries and a decrease in the abuse, neglect and abandonment of dogs and cats;
6. To treat our volunteers, adopters and partners with understanding, patience and support
Adopting a pet is a SERIOUS COMMITMENT. We strongly encourage anyone thinking about adding a fuzzy member to their family to do their research and be ready for this commitment. Take a moment to read through this short but helpful Are You Ready to Adopt? page. And please carefully consider the financial obligation you will take on when adopting a new family member. It is important to be sure you can properly care for your pet now and in the future. We will also be happy to work with you to figure out what kind of pet is best for you. If you want to have a pet in your home but aren’t sure you can make the 10-20 year commitment, consider fostering pets.
Homeward Trails Animal Rescue will work directly with you, the prospective adopter, providing individualized attention and support in order to help you find the perfect pet for your family. We also suggest you take the time to read through the many resource documents on our website to prepare yourself for the many things that adoption will bring!
We provide as much information on each animal’s history, disposition and health as we can gather. We strongly believe that honesty is the best policy. We want each of our animals to find the RIGHT home, not just ANY home. Likewise, we want you to find the pet who best matches your lifestyle and interests.
Pet Adoption Questionnaire and Interview
You will first be required to complete our Adoption Questionnaire through our ShlelterLuv system. Once received, an HT rep will contact you via phone or e-mail. If it seems you are a good fit for each other based on the info you provided, a phone interview will follow. If you are renting, we require proof that you are allowed to have a pet as well as any breed or size restrictions that may exist. If you have pets or did previously, we require your vet information and we will call them to verify that your pets are in good health, current on vaccines and spayed/neutered. We require that all pets in the home be spayed/neutered unless there are health reasons that can be verified with the vet.
Pet Adoption Agreement
In our Adoption Agreement, we require that every animal be spayed/neutered (if not prior to adoption) by a specific date. This is VERY important as the overpopulation of dogs and cats in our country is a sad result of too many unplanned litters! If for any reason the match is not as perfect as we all had hoped, the dog or cat must be returned to Homeward Trails, not given away or turned in to a shelter. Serious fines apply to violators of the Homeward Trails Agreement to Adopt. So be clear about what you are signing and be prepared to abide by the contract. It is legally binding and we take it very seriously.
Note: Homeward Trails requires adopters to be at least 21 years of age. We will require proof of age to finalize any adoption.
Pet Adoption Fee
Homeward Trails’ adoption fees range depending on type of animal, the originating shelter and the vetting the animal has received. Our adoption fees are set to allow us to cover our expenses as well as to help other animals in our program that require additional care. Our fees cover vetting costs, shelter fees, fuel for transport, copying and printing of contracts and paperwork, our website presence, food, boarding, behavioral training and additional medical care. It is important to note that while the animal you adopt may not require all of these things, many other animals in our system do. Thus, any “extra” money from adoption fees goes to help those animals who may require additional care. By adopting from Homeward Trails, you are not saving just one life, you are helping to save others as well.
Benefits for HT Adopters
Every adopted Homeward Trails animal comes with 30 days of free pet health insurance. We are proud to partner with the following veterinarians who offer a free first exam for your animal, exclusively for HT adopters: Caring Hands Animal Hospital, Palisades Veterinary Clinic, Sunshine Animal Hospital and Clarendon Animal Care and all VCA Animal Hospitals. Additionally, any VCA hospital will cover illnesses up to $250 at no cost to any Homeward Trails adopter. We also provide a 30-minute phone consult with a professional dog trainer at Fur-Get Me Not within the first 30 days of adopting - just for HT adopters in the Arlington/Alexandria area. Start your new dog out on the right foot with this valuable, expert advice and guidance FREE!
Our Foster Program
Help us save more lives by becoming a foster! Fosters are like way stations between under resourced shelters and forever homes. We need fosters so that we can save dogs and cats before they are euthanized at the shelters. If you are interested in becoming a foster, please check out our information about fostering by visiting http://www.homewardtrails.org/foster-a-pet/dog-and-cat-foster-program/
day hours Monday - Tuesday - Wednesday - Thursday - Friday - Saturday 10 AM - 4 PM to meet adoptable dogs, please note that all young puppies and many dogs are in foster homes and not at the shelter Sunday 10 AM - 4 PM to meet adoptable dogs, please note that all young puppies and many dogs are in foster homes and not at the shelter