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VFHS 2018 Annual Conference

March 22 - March 24, 2018

DoubleTree by Hilton in Charlottesville, VA


E-newsletter ~ December 2017

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E-newsletter ~ July 2015

 E-newsletter ~April 2015 

 E-newsletter ~ December 2014

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 E-newsletter ~ December 2013

 E-newsletter ~ September 2013

 E-newsletter ~ July 2013



Congratulations to one of our member organizations - Homeward Trails Animal Rescue:

After 12 years of operation and more than 13,000 homeless animals rescued, Homeward Trails is finally opening its very own cageless adoption center. Since its inception in 2002, HT has operated almost solely as a foster-based program. In recent years, we have been lucky enough to be housed and partnered with a local doggy daycares which allowed us space to cagelessly board up to 25 dogs while we worked to secure foster and/or adoptive homes for them. This helped us increase the number of dogs we rescued by dozens annually. 

In September 2013, an opportunity to lease a nearby facility which had previously operated as a commercial doggy daycare and boarding facility came our way. We immediately pursued it and found it to be the perfect next step for our organization. HT has always been open to the possibility of securing its own facility but the cost of purchasing an appropriate facility was prohibitive.

This new facility (previously Affectionate Pet Care), located at 11118 Fairfax Station Road, Fairfax Station, VA includes a daycare building and a residential building for our on-site manager. It will offer HT the opportunity to quadruple the number of dogs we rescue and provide them with a clean, positive, safe, cageless temporary home that will also offer a significant amount of fenced outdoor space (something we have never had before). The facility will also provide additional space for pregnant and nursing dogs, thus allowing us to save many more puppies. 

Nearby woods will offer our dogs the opportunity for leisurely walks with our dedicated volunteers where they can stretch their legs and take in the fresh air – something many have not had in their lifetime!

The facility will be overseen by a full-time on-site manager and support staff. Once fully operational, we will explore hosting regular adoption hours to the public, thus allowing us to adopt out more dogs in a shorter period of time.

We are planning to begin housing our dogs here starting November 15, 2013! We are offering many exciting sponsorship and naming opportunities for animal lovers who wish to help us make this exciting dream come true. Your support will help pay for renovations, new fencing, appliances and more! Additionally, we will need many volunteers to help us move, paint, build and improve before opening.

We also have a gift registry where you can purchase items we need directly! And finally, we have MANY volunteer needs. Together, we can make this dream come true!

We can’t wait to start this next chapter of Homeward Trails and look forward to having you involved! Let the fun and rescue begin!

The Homeward Trails Adoption Center


Exciting News from our friends at Best Friends Animal Society:

Today, Best Friends Animal Society (BFAS) has kicked off their national campaign to "Save Them All".  Best Friends has established adoption centers with spay/neuter services and transport programs in Los Angeles and Salt Lake City.  The plan is to continue to expand such programs and services around the United States. 

In 2014, BFAS will expand programs in New York City.  The goal is to raise public awareness, partner with other no kill organizations and end the killing of animals in shelters around the US. 

Visit their website for more information:

Together, we can Save Them All!


Congratulations to VFHS Board Member Heidi Meinzer in opening her own law practice in Old Town Alexandria, VA.  Don't miss hearing Heidi speak at our upcoming annual conference in Virginia Beach on April 4-6, 2013.


Article below courtesy of

Entering 114 North Alfred Street in Old Town Alexandria, the door on the right is shut; someone is engaged in a phone conversation so, I go left. Mack, looks-up from his resting spot on the floor; I do not mean to disturb his peaceful dog-nap.

I tip-toe upstairs. Dazzling art adorns the walls, big windows admit the semi-light of a rainy day. On the second floor of the historic building with its immaculately tall ceilings, there are boxes and boxes and more boxes of what I presume to be legal paperwork. I find what I am I am looking for, the sparkling new office of Meinzer Law, Heidi Meinzer’s dream come true - her very own Animal Law practice.

In addition to providing litigation, dispute resolution, appeals, and lawyer-to-lawyer services, Heidi specializes as outside general counsel for pet care companies like Fur-Get Me Not, Operation Socialization, a membership organization of positive reinforcement professionals, and the 501(c) 3 non-profit, Homeward Trails Animal Rescue.

Like her dedication to her private clients, Heidi is proactive and works to protect companion animals, animal organizations, and responsible caregivers throughout the state. At the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Conference on April 4 - 6, 2013 in Virginia Beach, Heidi’s presentations will include a review of legal guidelines for 501(c) 3 non-profit organizations and a legislative update on the Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Work Group.

“The Comprehensive Animal Care Laws Work Group,” says Heidi, a Virginia Federation of Humane Societies Board of Director, “was comprised of a diverse group of animal professionals with differing views.”

In addition to her assignment redrafting provision 3.2-6551 regarding the obligations and duties of individuals finding stray companion animals, “Our group was tasked to review the definitions in section 3.2-6500 of the Virginia Comprehensive Animal Care Laws,” Heidi explains. “Although, we found no major problems, we worked specifically to clarify the rule for trap-neuter-return.”

Trap-neuter-return is the humane standard of care for reducing free-roaming community cat populations; however, there is still opposition to trap-neuter-return. Under Virginia law, practicing trap-neuter-return is considered animal abandonment.

“The professional working groups, which includes the Dangerous Animals Work Group,” Heidi states, “are a good way to hash-out issues before they are presented to the General Assembly.”

Combined with her experience and involvement in animal sheltering, animal rescue, the pet care industry, Heidi’s empathy is unique and exceeds expectation of what we would commonly perceive a lawyer to be. Heidi is devoted to her work and equally devoted to play; her newest dog-training endeavor is K9 Nose Work®.

Recently Heidi earned an Associate Nose Work Instructor (ANWI) certification through the National Association of Canine Scent Work™, which founded the sport, sets the sport standards, and is the only organizing and sanctioning body for K9 Nose Work® titles and events.

“I love it,” Heidi says, readily admitting her addiction to K9 Nose Work®. This fun and progressively challenging sport includes container, interior, exterior, and vehicle searches and truly establishes a system of communication between handler and canine.

Heidi and one of her two dogs, Boomer, won ribbons at a recent NW1 Trials in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. She plans to continue the National Association of Canine Scent Work™ certification program and become a Certified Nose Work Instructor (CNWI)™.

This Spring, Heidi, an Assistant Trainer at Fur-Get Me Not, the premier, positive reward dog-training facility in Arlington,Virginia will be teaching K9 Nose Work® I, II, and III. “The sport is great for all dogs including reactive and less confident dogs.”

Michelle Welch – Assistant Attorney General

altMichelle Welch has been an animal abuse prosecutor for thirteen years in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and one of the first animal abuse prosecutor in the state. She is currently an Assistant Attorney General in the Virginia Attorney General’s Office. She handles all animal abuse cases for the office and is called upon by agencies all over the Commonwealth to act as a special prosecutor in animal cruelty and animal fighting cases. Michelle has been appointed a special Assistant U.S. Attorney to aid in dog fighting prosecutions and frequently gives advice to local law enforcement agencies and prosecutors from across the nation. She trains prosecutors, animal control and law enforcement officers on the state of animal law.

Michelle is the Vice President of the Virginia Animal Fighting Taskforce, a Board Member of VFHS, and a Vice-Chair of the Animal Law Committee of the ABA. She is also the Chair of the Animal Cruelty Advisory Committee for the Association of Prosecuting Attorneys (APA), a senior faculty member for the APA, and serves as chair for their Annual National Animal Cruelty Conference. She is adjunct faculty for Animal Law at the University of Richmond Law School and William & Mary Law School, and has testified before a Congressional Caucus examining the enforcement of animal laws and the cooperation between state and federal partners. In 2008, she led efforts in strengthening the Virginia Animal Fighting Law and it is a model for the nation. In 2012, she was presented with the Albert Schweitzer Medal for her work on behalf of the animals by the Animal Welfare Institute.

In 2009, Michelle handled a “puppy mill” case and over 60 dogs were saved as a result of her efforts. In 2010, she prosecuted a fire captain for starving his 7 beagles and 1 Labrador retriever. Four of the animals were dead and four survived. She was successful in convicting him before a jury and he received the largest fine to date in Virginia. In 2012, Michelle prosecuted eight different animal abusers. Five were in Halifax County, one in Fairfax County and the state and federal case against a Nelson County man. Two defendants in Halifax County were convicted of cockfighting and one received jail time. In September 2012, Welch tried three codefendants for dog fighting and convicted them all.

In 2012, the state case against a Nelson County man netting jail time on the alcohol violations but being prohibited to own animals on the cruelty charges. Most importantly, Michelle helped save over 100 animals, including 50 hounds that were in different states of starvation and needing vet attention, as well as ducks, chickens, roosters, horses and pigs. The federal case is set for sentencing in April 2013. This investigation was historic involving many state and federal partners for the first time, and has now formed a model for future investigations.

Finally, in September 2012, Welch prosecuted a zoo director for drowning a wallaby in Fairfax, Virginia. The wallaby had injured his eye and the defendant did not want to treat it for its injury. Instead of humanely euthanizing it, she drowned the wallaby in a bucket of water. The Reston Zoo case was an advanced criminal case involving cruelty, necropsy experts, toxicologists, and computer forensic experts. The zoo director appealed her verdict, but in December she entered a plea agreement in Circuit Court accepting the sentence she received in lower court.


Potomac Spay/Neuter Clinic opens in Manasssas

The Shenandoah Valley Spay/Neuter Clinic is thrilled to announce the opening of a new spay/neuter clinic in Manassas, Virginia.  The Potomac Spay/Neuter Clinic opened its doors on Monday, December 10th 2012.  The clinic provides high quality, affordable spay/neuter and preventive care services.

In 2005, the Shenandoah Valley Spay/Neuter Clinic (SVSNC) began operations in Harrisonburg, Virginia.  Since opening, SVSNC has performed over 100,000 surgeries, many of them from the Northern Virginia region.  The Prince William County SPCA and Fairfax County Animal Shelter have been working with SVSNC for years to provide affordable spay/neuter services to the residents of Prince William and Fairfax Counties through the Clinic’s transportation program. The opening of the Potomac Spay/Neuter Clinic will make affordable spay/neuter services more readily available to residents of Northern Virginia and the Greater Washington area. 

Potomac Spay/Neuter Clinic
9975 Pennsylvania Ave
Manassas, VA 20110
571.208.0199 | 571.208.0321