Our history

From our humble beginnings in 1964, Animal Welfare League of South Australia (AWL) has grown and developed into one of the leading animal welfare organisations in Australia.

First established by dedicated animal lover and advocate Joy Richardson, AWL began by caring for lost and abandoned cats.

Consisting of a cottage, two shops and a garden,  a dedicated team of volunteers created the AWL’s first cattery on Magill Road in Norwood. Everyone worked tirelessly to raise the funds needed to care for the many cats that arrived at their door.

Lost Dogs Society and the AWL merged in 1966 to care for dogs as well as cats. Relocating to a property at Horsnell Gully, the centre was in a basic four room cottage built on the side of a gully on twelve acres of land. At the start, the only water source came from a creek running through the property. As AWL became more financially secure, we connected mains water and hired more staff to meet growing demand for help.

Sadly, the number of lost and abandoned animals kept increasing during the next few years, AWL urgently needed larger premises to ensure we could continue caring for thousands of lonely and unloved dogs and cats.

In 1976, premier Don Dunstan opened a new shelter on six acres of land at Wingfield.  As a result AWL could continue caring for thousands of animals without any government funding. In recent years, up to 700 dogs and cats could be on site at any one time, and the facility included a purpose built boarding centre, an onsite crematorium, a dog grooming centre and vet clinic.

Over the years, we've relied heavily on the support of a wonderful team of dedicated staff and volunteers. Day after day, they give their all to look after the animals in our care. Most importantly we would not be able to continue to provide our lifesaving services to every animal that arrives at our door without your support – without YOU, our vital work would not be possible.

Fifty years on, AWL now has a state-of-the-art crematoriam which hosts as series of single chamber units for animals of all sizes. At our facility in Edinburgh North, we continue to re-unite lost and stray animals with their owners. And our brand new Animal Care Centre at Wingfield has a dedicated cat adoption hub and best-practice vet facilities. This Australian first offers a fear-free experience for dogs and cats, allowing potential adoptets the chance to get to know the pets in the most stress-free environment as possible. 

With the generous support of our volunteers, donors and the wider public, AWL will continue bringing people and pets together for the wellbeing of our community for years to come.