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The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies (VFHS) is a membership organization founded in 1959. Our membership includes public and private animal shelters, humane societies, rescue groups, sanctuaries, and animal control agencies, as well as animal caregivers and individual supporters across Virginia. VFHS is committed to ending the killing of healthy and treatable animals in Virginia’s sheltering system. 

To demonstrate its commitment to saving the lives of sheltered pets, VFHS launched “SaveVaPets – Crossing the No Kill Finish Line” at the 2017 Annual Conference.  The creation of SaveVaPets was the culmination of months of study by the Board of Directors. VFHS member organizations were leading the effort to save all the healthy and treatable pets in the state. The save rate for sheltered dogs and cats in Virginia in 2015 was 81%, and in 2016, it was 83%. Board members recognized that, with strategically directed resources, reaching at least a 90% save rate for the state was entirely within our reach.  VFHS leaders made a commitment to members that all Federation programming would be in support of that worthy goal and began to go to work on that promise. When the 2017 statistics were revealed, the save rate had increased to 86%.  VFHS is dedicated to delivering at least a 90% save rate for dogs and cats in Virginia’s sheltering system by 2020.  Following is information about our programming to support SaveVAPets.


High Five VA

High Five is dedicated to reducing the euthanasia of healthy and treatable animals in Virginia by the robust transport and transfer of healthy and treatable animals from areas of the state with fewer resources and adopters to regions with greater resources and adopters. 

High Five VA strives to accomplish this goal by:

- providing a website exclusively for showcasing participating shelters' animals to potential receiving organizations

- providing a caseworker to network the High Five animals to potential receiving organizations 

- offering financial assistance to eliminate barriers to the successful transfer of animals, including short term boarding, fuel, vaccinations, testing and more

Movinganimals from one location to another can result in a decrease in length of stay, a more diverse selection of animals for adopters and a decrease in euthanasia overall.

For more information: High Five Virginia

VFHS created and branded its Spay Virginia project about a decade ago.  From its inception, Spay Virginia has been focused on ensuring accessible and affordable spay/neuter options for Virginia pet owners and advocates.  Through the efforts of Spay Virginia, three low cost, high volume spay/neuter clinics were opened in Virginia and serve individuals and animal welfare groups in many jurisdictions. Today Spay Virginia is a resource to the public, providing information about low-cost spay/neuter resources.  In the last five years SpayVA has disseminated over $100,000 in grants to member organizations for the provision of spay/neuter of owned pets, rescue pets and community cats throughout the state. 


Each year, VFHS presents a multi-day conference featuring renowned speakers who offer training on latest progressive practices in animal care, professional and organizational development, fundraising, spay/neuter programming and increasing lifesaving for sheltered animals.  The Annual Conference is incredibly important to the Federation’s’ lifesaving goal, not only for the training it offers but also because members are able to develop strong and strategic partnerships which support their individual efforts and forward the overall goal of at least a 90% save rate for the state by 2020.


The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies was organized in 1959 by Pearl Rainwater Twyne, a woman of great vision and purpose. Born in Missouri, she moved to the Washington D.C. area in the 1920’s to work for the Department of Agriculture. Mrs. Twyne helped to found the Arlington Animal Welfare League in 1944 and served as its president until 1967. She was also involved in establishing the Humane Society of Fairfax County and the American Horse Protection Association. She was a former regional chapter president for Defenders of Wildlife and served on a presidential panel appointed to study the status of wild horses. Her testimony before Congress contributed to the passage of the Wild and Free-Roaming Horses and Burros Act of 1970.

Mrs. Twyne’s experience with animal welfare organizations in the northern Virginia area inspired her to establish a statewide organization to serve as an umbrella for animal-related agencies to work together toward common goals. Initially involving the northern Virginia and Tidewater areas, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies expanded to encompass most areas of the Commonwealth.


The general objectives that were developed at the time of the Federation’s organization in 1959 are just as valid today as they were then – providing leadership and support for organizations around Virginia so that together the care and protection of animals will be improved. VFHS has been and continues to be a leader in the animal welfare movement in Virginia. 


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Dog in the Parkl



The Virginia Federation of Humane Societies leads an alliance of organizations and individuals committed to ending the unnecessary euthanasia of homeless dogs and cats in Virginia.



By 2020 the euthanasia rate for dogs and cats in Virginia’s sheltering system shall be less than 10%.

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In 2006, the Virginia Federation of Humane Societies introduced an ambitious strategic plan that reflected the priorities of its members. Through this plan, VFHS has both the opportunity and the responsibility to unite Virginia's humane organizations, rescue groups, veterinarians and animal care and control agencies behind a commitment to end the euthanasia of healthy or treatable dogs and cats in Virginia. We invite everyone concerned about the welfare of animals in Virginia to work together to achieve the goals that will bring us all closer to realizing that vision.


The Strategic Plan has been updated twice since it was originally created, most recently in 2018, and may be found by clicking this link:  

VFHS Strategic Plan

Cat Eyes
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