Director of Behavior and Adoptions

Job Type

Full Time


Details: Compensation This is a full time, exempt, position with medical, dental and vision benefits as well as holiday, vacation and sick time. The compensation for the position is within the SAWA median range.




2650 South Arlington Mill Drive
United States


Director of Behavior & Adoptions

The Director of Behavior & Adoptions is a member of the behavior & adoptions team as well as a part of the shelter operations team at the Animal Welfare League of Arlington. This position oversees all aspects of the adoption and behavior program for the League. This position is based in Arlington, Virginia.


About the Animal Welfare League of Arlington

Since 1944, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington has been committed to improving the lives of animals. The League provides temporary care and refuge for homeless and suffering animals; places animals in loving responsible homes, provides animal control services to Arlington County, and subsidizes county funds to provide a wealth of animal welfare and community services. The Animal Welfare League of Arlington is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) organization.

The Animal Welfare league of Arlington is dedicated to creating a world where all companion animals find compassionate and permanent homes. For more information, please visit

Reporting Relationships

This position reports to the Chief Operating Officer and oversees a team of 5+ staff members. The Director of Behavior & Adoptions will also work closely with League staff, volunteers, and the public.


  • Supervise assigned staff as well as related volunteers
  • Responsible for adoptions of shelter animals including dogs, cats, birds, & small companion animals.
  • Manage all aspects of adoption program including transfers, animal behavior evaluations, open adoption policies, reviewing and qualifying applicants to adopt, and conducting adoption consultations advising adopters on behavior, training and health. Work with animals that may need additional assessment and/or behavior modification. Resolve issues concerning adoptions either pre or post adoption.
  • Develop new programs to enrich shelter animals as well as to promote adoption, engage the community and keep pets in their homes. 
  • Manage and develop the League’s partnership program with local rescues. Work with rescues to coordinate transfer of animals to/from the League.
  • Ensure transfers are done using recommended best practices, Oversee coordination and success of animal transfer and rescue group program
  • Oversee coordination of behavior and training seminars, classes and sessions that may be offered at the League.
  • Manage the response to training emails and calls from the public addressing questions on animal behavior.
  • Responsible for developing and implementing training programs for volunteers and staff on subjects such as safe animal handling, training and behavior
  • Identify appropriate training opportunities for staff
  • Work assigned hours at the front desk interacting with the public on a variety of issues. 
  • Oversee Baby Ready Pets Class offered bi-monthly teaching expecting parents to introduce their pet to their new baby successfully and safely.
  • Act as manager on call on a rotating schedule responding to shelter emergencies.
  • Oversee managed intakes (dogs, cats, SCAs) outside of Arlington County
  • Develop and implement enrichment ideas for shelter animals
  • Track, record and share statistics
  • Update and maintain current SOPs relevant to department
  • Schedule staff
  • Participate in euthanasia decisions for animals with severe behavior and/or health problems
  • Additional duties may be assigned as deemed necessary and consistent with the mission of the League


External Relations

  • This position is required to interact directly with the public working at the front desk in customer service and adoptions, as well as dispatch animal control calls on a rotating basis with other staff members
  • This position is required to be the point of contact via AWLA’s emergency cell phone every few weeks on a rotating basis with other directors

Required Qualifications

  • 5+ years of professional and managerial work experience in an animal care environment
  • Knowledge of animal care and behavior
  • Prior skills in handling and assessing animal behavior
  • Excellent customer service and counseling skills
  • Strong interpersonal skills and demonstrated ability to write clearly and persuasively
  • Demonstrated ability to engage, inspire and instruct people
  • Flexible schedule with the ability to work evenings and weekends
  • Bachelor’s degree (10+ years of equivalent experience may be accepted in lieu of degree)
  • Computer literacy
  • Current certification with the Certification Council of Professional Dog Trainers (CCPDT) or equivalent experience

Desired Qualifications (helpful but not required)

  • Experience with “hands on” nonprofits
  • Experience working with animal databases such as PetPoint

Personal Characteristics

  • Passion for the mission of Animal Welfare League of Arlington
  • Ability to think creatively to develop & implement programs to promote and facilitate adoptions
  • Energetic, hard-working, and a collaborative team player
  • Highly organized, and detail-oriented self-starter
  • Positive, enthusiastic, professional image in representing AWLA, both internally and externally
  • Ability to maintain composure and cope effectively with high stress situations
  • Discretion with confidential information

Travel Requirements

This position may require occasional travel in order to attend meetings and other community events


Typical Physical & Mental Demands

Requires frequent bending, reaching, stooping, kneeling, walking/standing, eye-hand coordination and manual dexterity sufficient to operate a keyboard, telephone, photocopier, calculator and other equipment or machinery. Will have exposure to injured and deceased animals, disinfectant solutions, and various weather conditions. May assist in animal restraint and deal with distressed animals, and could be subject to bites and scratches. May be required to lift heavy items (possibly up to 50 lbs) or animals and be physically active. Requires normal range of hearing and eyesight to communicate with the public, volunteers, staff, and animals. Also requires flexibility and adaptability to work with frequent interruptions.

Must be comfortable around dogs, cats, small companion animals and all wildlife.

Will be required to receive rabies prophylaxis vaccine, hepatitis-B (optional), and tetanus vaccinations.

Professional Level

None specified

Minimum Education Required

No requirement

How To Apply

Please submit the following application materials to Claudia West at with Director of Behavior & Adoptions in the subject line:

  • A thoughtful cover letter describing your interest in the position and relevant experience/qualifications
  • Current Resume
  • Salary Expectations