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lucy1Homeward Trails turns 8!  Meet Lucy, the first HT dog ever adopted! Read on to learn more about our humble beginnings, how HT grew to a vibrant organization that touches the lives of thousands of people and animals!  It was a cold day in December 2001 when founder Sue Bell happened across the Fayette County,WV animal shelter……

Driving by, while she vacationed in WV over the New Year holiday, she saw many dogs tied up outside in the cold and had to stop and drop off some treats and inquire about the situation.

She learned many terrible things. The shelter had been hit by a flash flood that summer where 50 animals had died by drowning when the staff was unable to reach the shelter to free them from their cages. Now operating out of an old trailer that was previously used for white water rafting, the shelter was euthanizing almost 99% of the animals that came in. They had almost no space, very few adopters and many, many animals of all ages being brought in daily.

Bell was distraught as she looked around at the dismal situation, seeing so many sweet faces and knowing their fates.  She left that day very sad. And not knowing that this one trip would quickly change her life.

lucy2On January 1, 2002, Bell, her husband and several friends stopped back in to the shelter to say good bye and left with three dogs and a cat. Not knowing what the heck they were doing (as Bell and her husband already had two rescued dogs back home), they simply jumped in the deep end and figured something would work out for these poor pooches.

The first HT cat, CATFISH, found a lovely home in Indiana with the father of one of Bell’s friends.  The three dogs camped out at Bell’s house for a week while she worked her e-mail network searching high and low for homes, taking a few days off of work to care for the dogs, get them vaccinated and acclimate them.

LUCY was the first dog adopted. She found a great home in Alexandria with a fellow book club member of Bell’s. Shortly after, BROWN DOG (now HARVEY) was adopted to a friend of a friend in DC where he quickly took to inside living and summer boating trips.  BLACK DOG (now MIKEY) went to a Hill colleague of Bell’s husband who fought allergies to keep Mikey in her family. Ironically, Mikey’s adopter would later marry a “Mike”, thus making it two Mikey’s in the family!

Now, 8 years later and more than 7,000 animals rescued, HT is one of the largest, most successful animal rescue organizations in Northern Virginia. Boasting more than 500 volunteers, Homeward Trails continues to work with Fayette County in addition to 12 other rural shelters throughout VA, WV and as far as NC and GA!

Celebrate our 8 years of saving lives! Adopt, foster or donate today to keep our amazing work going!


snowWe are grateful to our adopters and fosters for giving so many rescued HT dogs a warm home. So many came to us from out in the cold and now they have the opportunity to enjoy the snow…and then come home to warm beds.

Happy Holidays! WOOF


catPlease remember Homeward Trails this holiday season with a tax-deductible, year-end gift to help the animals.

A donation of any size will allow us to help more animals this winter season and throughout the year.

Visit to make an online donatoin today.

Happy Holidays!!!


holidatcatsPlease check out our special Holiday cats if you are looking for a fabulous feline to add to your family.

Holiday Mandy, Holiday DC, Holiday Candy and Holiday Mike are all special cats waiting patiently for their forever homes.


In the next 24 hours, is giving away $5,000 to organizations who get supporters to join through special links.

If you aren’t already shopping and searching on iGive for HT, go to before noon on Thursday, join and do one search and iGive will donate $1 to Homeward Trails. One dollar may not sound like much but if 50 people do it, that’s $50 raised for Homeward Trails! And if you buy anything from an iGive online merchant within 45 days of joining, you’ll generate a $5 bonus donation to HT on top of the regular percentage of your purchase.

Searching or shopping through iGive means a donation. It’s free and easy. A penny or more per search, a $5 bonus for your first purchase and up to 26% of your purchases at over 730 stores like Amazon, eBay, Travelocity, Home Depot, Staples, and many, many more. Plus you SAVE money with exclusive coupon codes, free shipping deals, and sale alerts.

After you join, the easiest way to use iGive is to install their browser toolbar- it automatically recognizes if you’re shopping at an iGive online store to help you generate a donation for every purchase!


Homeward Trails recently learned about 4 young kittens living outside in Haymarket, VA. To our astonishment, in addition to the 4 kittens, the rescue who went down to pick them up found approximately 30 adult cats in the same place, living outdoors in the cold. None of these cats are spayed or neutered or vaccinated, and most, if not all, are sick with fever and living off of bread and dry food. While they technically have “shelter” in a couple of small wooden shacks and under a house, this is hardly sufficient given the bitter cold nights of recent (and for 30 cats!). Surprisingly, all of these sweet animals are friendly, reaching out to humans for help from their heart-breaking ordeal.

The two cats that Homeward Trails was able to take in with the help of the primary rescue had terribly high fevers and messy eye infections. Bentley, a gorgeous Tuxedo, and Skye, a lovely long haired black cat, are currently being boarded at a kind veterinarian’s clinic who graciously offered to help Homeward Trails with these guys. Please consider helping these poor cats. A donation of $100 will help get a kitty spayed/neutered, any necessary medications, and fully vaccinated. When contributing a donation, please be sure to specify “Outdoor Kitties” in the notes section before submitting. Even if we don’t have enough foster homes to go around immediately, let’s all join in the effort to have zero population growth in this friendly colony while we work to rescue each of them.


totalHT strives to rescue as many homeless animals each year as possible. But beyond quantity, our biggest focus is on quality. HT believes strongly in providing the best care for each and every animal in our system. So, while quantity is nice….we take the most pride in the quality of care and quality of adoptive homes we provide to our rescued friends!

Cats Adopted Recently

Sassy Tortie
Snickers the 3 legged kitten!

Dogs Adopted Recently

Holly Berry
Mikey, a senior lab who will live out his years 4 doors from Arlington Petmac!

givingIn a wonderful, collective effort by our many, many friends and supporters, Homeward Trails has been awarded a ten thousand dollar cash grant through the America’s Giving Challenge competition!

Beating out more than 8,500 national and international nonprofit organizations, HT is the only animal-focused group to win this prize.

How did we do this?

You made it possible. HT generated enough individual donations to secure a spot in the top eleven. With 1,674 donations and more than twenty eight thousand dollars raised, HT received an additional $10,000 award. Having entered the contest two weeks late, HT supporters wasted no time helping HT to move quickly up the list and remain in the top twenty almost daily.

“This amazing win will help us help so many homeless animals, ” says Sue Bell, HT Founder and Executive Director. “We are so incredibly grateful to each and every one of you wh donated and got others to. This was truly a collective effort. We thank you. “

Check out the article in the Richmond Times Dispatch about this exciting win:

To read more about the contest and the other winners, visit

Painting by Ally Burguieres

Painting by Ally Burguieres

Amazing local artist and animal lover, Ally Burguieres, offers beautiful paintings, sketches and prints in vibrant colors with lasting impressions.

Browse Ally’s website to see samplings and to consider have a piece commissioned. One hundred dollars of every piece of art sold goes to Homeward Trails!


igiveThrough iGive, you can help Homeward Trails when you search or shop!

A penny a search and a portion of each purchase will be donated to Homeward Trails Animal Rescue for free. How often do you search or shop online?

Go to to sign up.