About Us

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We, like you, are animal-lovers who want to help.

Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (Friends) is the 501(c)(3) nonprofit, fundraising partner of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (Shelter). With the support of many pet-loving donors and volunteers, Friends funds important needs beyond what the Shelter’s budget can provide. Please join us in the Shelter’s effort to ensure every Shelter pet is offered the best opportunity to find a loving forever home.

Our Mission

By supporting Friends, you help us in our mission to:

  • Show compassion to all shelter pets.
  • Provide additional resources and aid to our local animal shelter.
  • Promote the adoption of homeless dogs, cats, birds, small mammals and reptiles in Fairfax County.
  • Educate the community on the importance of spaying and neutering pets.
bearded male caretaker from the back with snake around his shoulders
artful paws orange cat shelter

Our Vision

In addition to providing support to individual shelter animals in need, we hope to:

  • Extend our reach to help a broader number of animals
  • Expand our involvement in Fairfax County’s TNR program
  • Help fund projects related to the shelter remodeling
  • Find ways to further spay-and-neuter efforts in Fairfax County including low-cost options

Friends Beginnings

In the early fall of 2005, Karen Diviney, then shelter director in the Animal Services Division of the Fairfax County Police Department, invited Evelyn Grieve to her house to propose an idea about helping the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (Shelter). Karen knew Evelyn had great love of animals as they had previously worked together in the Department of Human Resources for Fairfax County.


Former Board member Jami Ojala
with Shelter dog

Evelyn met with Karen and Michelle Hankins, the Shelter’s Community Outreach Manager, about creating a nonprofit organization to raise desperately needed funds for the Shelter to help pets who needed emergency medical care. At the time, the Shelter had a small, annual discretionary fund of $10,000—it was not able to help all of the pets that came to the Shelter needing of emergency medical care. The situation was heartbreaking. Many, otherwise adoptable, animals faced euthanasia because funds were not available for major, but treatable, medical conditions.  Evelyn asked how she could help. Karen asked Evelyn to be the president of this new organization.

From that meeting, the three women created a plan and invited other compassionate citizens to a meeting to solicit additional help. Each attendee wrote a check for $150 to open an organizational checking account, created a 501(c)(3), and paid for other filings. A Shelter volunteer, Cynthia Kochendarfer, who was also a CPA, created our bylaws and handled our 501(c)(3) filings. The organization received its approved tax-exempt status in May 2006, and held its first fundraiser that month (Cinco de Meow), at the clubhouse in Evelyn’s neighborhood. The members brought in their own microwaves, cooked up Mexican food, had both a silent auction and a live auction, and raised $10,000. The women were thrilled and the organization was on its way!

Additionally, there are a number of former, long-term Board members who, without their support, hard work and dedication, we would not be where we are today. They are: Bobbie Cippel, Karen Diviney, (Shelter liaison and ex-officio Board member), Cynthia Kochendarfer, Audra Meckstroth, Mary O’Malley and Jami Ojala.