Fairfax County has become the first municipality in the nation to win accreditation from the Humane Society of the United States for the way it manages animal control in the county.

The Humane Society began accrediting animal control operations two years ago to recognize high standards in the operation of animal shelters and animal control methods.

"I'm very proud this award is ours," said Col. Richard R. Amity, director of the County's Department of Animal Control. "They (the Humane Society) go into great depth to make sure a shelter meets their standards before they give accreditation."

Amity received the accreditation certificate Saturday in San Diego at the national conference of the Humane Society.

The Humane Society cited the county for achievement in four areas, including the type of ordinaces the county has passed on animal control, the county's spaying and neutering program, the department of Animal Control's in-service training for personnel, and the institution of a public school program to teach humane treatment of animals.

The Department of Animal Control operates a reduced-cost clinic for spaying and neutering animals adopted from the county's animal shelter at 4500 West Ox Road, Amity said. County residents also can obtain licenses at reduces prices for animals which have been spayed or neutered.

Wardens in the animal control department train five weeks at the Northern Virginia Police Academy for background in law enforcement, and study a full-time six-day course in animal control through extension courses from Virginia Polytechnical Institute. The course covers physiology of animals, capture techniques, and the legal aspects of animal control, among subjects.

Herrmann said Fairfax County's animal control department "stands up pretty good nationwide" regarding the frequency that animals are put to sleep. Amity said 44 per cent of all animals brought to the center are put to sleep, and that a large number of those animals are sick or old. Herrmann said about 13 million animals are put to sleep in animal shelters nationwide, out of between 15 and 17 million animals brought to those shelters.

The Humane Society accreditation was announced at Monday's meeting of the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Concerning other matters at Monday's meeting, the board was notified that Fairfax Hospital has been charging for visitor parking at the hospital since Spet. 6.

A hospital spokeswoman said the charges are to defray costs of construction costs would have been passed on to patients without the parking fees, the spokeswoman said. Fairfax Hospital Administrator William Jacobs said it costs $33 a year to maintain each hospital parking space. There are 1,452 employee parking spaces and 373 visitor parking spaces provided by the hospital.

The parking fees are intended to discourage long-term parking in the visitor parking lots by employees and commuters, the spokeswoman said. Hospital security personnel had noted that cars had been parked all day in the visitor parking lot. The cars appeared to belong to commuters who took the bus that stopped at the hospital or met car pools at the hospital.

The spokeswoman said the hospital has received no complaints since the parking fees were imposed.

There is public curbside space for about 175 cars near the hospital where visitors may park without charge.