Our history

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

First established by dedicated animal lover and advocate Joy Richardson, the Animal Welfare League of SA Inc. began by caring for lost and abandoned cats in South Australia.

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

It was in 1966 that the Lost Dogs Society and the AWL merged to care for both cats and dogs and the premises were relocated to a property at Horsnell Gully which allowed the dedicated team to care for both dogs and cats.

The property at Horsnell Gully consisted of a very basic four room cottage built on the side of a gully on 12 acres of land. The only water source for the organisation was from a creek that ran through the property but over time as the AWL became more financially secure, water was connected to the property and further staff was hired to meet the high demand for our services.

It is a sad reality that over the years the number of lost and abandoned animals continued to increase to the point it was determined that a larger premises was needed to ensure we could continue to care for and offer our services to thousands of lonely and unloved dogs and cats.

The current AWL Shelter was opened by Premier Don Dunstan in 1976 on six acres of land at Wingfield and as an open animal shelter we continue to care for thousands of animals each year still without ANY government funding.

Our AWL Wingfield site consists of a shelter which can provide care for 700 dogs and cats at any one time with a purpose built on site boarding facility, an onsite pet Crematorium and pet cremations service, a dog grooming centre and also a vet clinic.

Over our 50 year history we have relied heavily on the support of a wonderful team of dedicated staff and volunteers who give their all day after day for 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.

Now as we move into the future and a greater demand is being placed on our services, plans are currently underway for a redevelopment of the AWL Wingfield Shelter. This redevelopment is very exciting for the AWL team and we know it will help to ensure we remain at the forefront of animal welfare and we can continue 

Opened in 1976 by former Premier of South Australia, Don Dunstan, the AWL Wingfield shelter is situated on six acres of land and as a non-selective animal shelter the dedicated AWL team continue to care for thousands of animals each year without government funding.

The AWL Wingfield site consists of a shelter which can provide care for 700 dogs and cats at any one time with a purpose built on site boarding facility, pet crematorium and pet cremations service, a dog grooming centre, dog training service and also a vet clinic.

Over our 50 year history, the AWL have relied heavily on the support of a wonderful team of dedicated staff and volunteers who tirelessly give their all day after day, for the animals in our care.

The AWL provide care for close to 12,000 animals annually. Unfortunately, this is a number that is not decreasing and as a result the AWL will continue to provide the best possible service and care to lonely and unloved animals in South Australia. 

The AWL Edinburgh North shelter was opened in 2005 and was developed in partnership with the City of Playford to provide support for the welfare and care of lost and stray animals in the northern suburbs of Adelaide and adjacent rural areas.

After closing the Edinburgh North shelter in 2008 for adoptions, the AWL team are excited to have recently re-opened the Shelter all adoptions.

To help create a welcoming and family friendly environment, the AWL Edinburgh North Shelter has also undergone extensive renovations with the hope it will encourage more potential adopting families to visit and give a lonely and unloved animal the second chance they deserve.

The AWL Edinburgh North shelter offers a pet adoption service to the public plus acts as a holding facility for the City of Playford. Residents of the Playford Council can reclaim their pet from the Edinburgh North facility after contacting the City of Playford.