‘It Raises Money for Animals that Need Special Care’

‘It Raises Money for Animals that Need Special Care’

Shelter’s tribute garden marks a memorial milestone.

The dog tribute garden in foreground, while a woman photographs a brick in the cat tribute garden.

The dog tribute garden in foreground, while a woman photographs a brick in the cat tribute garden.

Losing a beloved pet can be heartbreaking, so the Friends of the Fairfax County Animal Shelter (FFCAS) established an animal-tribute garden outside the shelter. Designed in the images of a dog and a cat – the shelter’s logo – it’s created of bricks that people may purchase and have engraved in memory of their late pets.

Diane D’Arcy places the 100th brick while Evelyn Grieve watches.


Now, some two years after the Friends began the garden, it’s sold its 100th brick and held a ceremony to mark the occasion. But the bricks have an even more far-reaching purpose, since the money from their sale provides critical funds for the shelter itself.

“I think it’s a creative way to raise money, particularly now when everyone’s looking for fundraising opportunities,” said former Sully District Supervisor Michael Frey, after whom the shelter is named and who’s also on the FFCAS Board. “It gives people the chance to leave something that both memorializes their pet and recognizes the shelter.”

FFCAS is the shelter’s nonprofit, fundraising partner. As such, it ensures that animals requiring lifesaving medical care beyond the shelter’s budget limitations can receive it. However, it doesn’t come easily – especially since the shelter opens its doors and hearts to more than 5,000 animals a year.

But by making this money available – as well as funds for animal behavior-training, parasite prevention, dental care and community outreach – the Friends help the shelter in its efforts to offer each animal the best opportunity to find a permanent, loving home. And the tribute garden plays an important role in making this possible. Besides being an attractive entrance to the shelter, it’s a special way for people to honor and remember their own pets, while helping other animals get adopted.

To commemorate the sale of the 100th brick, shelter staff and board members, volunteers, FFCAS members and various county dignitaries recently gathered at the tribute garden for a special ceremony. They included Dave Rohrer, former Fairfax County deputy executive for public safety, and supervisors Kathy Smith (D-Sully), James Walkinshaw (D-Braddock) and John Foust (D-Dranesville).

The bricks honoring D’Arcy’s three dogs are at bottom of photo.


The brick’s purchaser, Diane D’Arcy, placed that special brick in the dog-shaped garden. It was actually the third one she added there – two, in memory of her late, red bone coon hounds, Stella and Rhythm, and one in honor of her current coon hound, Zipper. Each of their bricks is engraved with their names, plus the names of the kennels from which they were bred.

“I adopted them all,” said D’Arcy. “All are rescue dogs. It’s just wonderful to rescue a dog, and this is a great project. It raises money for animals coming to the shelter that need special care – such as operations, medication and training – before they can be put up for adoption.”

She also praised FFCAS President and co-founder Evelyn Grieve, who also attended the ceremony. “This wouldn’t have happened without Evelyn,” said D’Arcy. “She’s the cheerleader for the Friends of the Animal Shelter.”

Foust was there since D’Arcy lives in his district. “How fortunate we are in Dranesville to have her,” he said. “And I’m so proud we were able to name this facility after Michael Frey. What an advocate he is – people who like animals are good people.”

Speaking next was Dave Rohrer, former Fairfax County deputy executive for public safety. He thanked “the volunteers and everyone who makes this shelter such a special place. The work you do is so valuable.” Rohrer also expressed appreciation for longtime shelter Director Karen Diviney for all she’s done for the shelter. And, in turn, Diviney thanked FFCAS and all the shelter’s supporters for their hard work.

Noting that there are 450 memorial bricks total in the tribute garden, Frey said that, initially, “We had no idea this effort would be successful.” But, he added, “There’s a lot of loyalty to the shelter.”

To Help

The tribute garden serves as a place for visitors to rest and remember the pets and other loved ones in their lives. It’s also a thank-you for contributions and a garden for everyone to enjoy, so the community is welcome to participate in the ongoing fundraising.

Bricks may be inscribed in honor or in memory of an animal or animal lover, or with the donor’s name or the name of a family or business. Each brick is 4x8 inches; cost is $200 a brick, and each has up to three lines – with 12 characters per line – available for inscription. 

For more information, email the Friends at generalinfo@ffcas.org. Or go to www.ffcas.org or https://ffcas.org/ways-to-donate/friends-tribute-garden/ for ordering instructions or to donate to the tribute garden.