4 September 1964

Animal Welfare League established

Joy Richardson OAM, passionate animal advocate and founder of Animal Welfare League, officially establishes AWL on September 4, 1964.

2 August 1965

First AWL office and Op Shop opens

First official AWL office and Op Shop opened at 48 Magill Road, Norwood.

1 January 1966

AWL merges with Lost and Abandoned Dogs Society

Animal Welfare League merges with Lost and Abandoned Dogs Society and relocates to a property in Horsnell Gully. The centre was in a basic four-room cottage built on twelve acres of land. At the start, the only water source came from a creek running through the property, meaning staff and volunteers had to use buckets to bring water in for the animals. As AWL became more financially secure, we connected mains water and hired more staff to meet the growing demand for help. This merger meant that AWL could save dogs as well as cats, and was one of the first major steps towards transforming the organisation into the AWL we all know and love today. 

8 October 1966

AWL throws Fashion Parade Fundraiser at Burnside Town Hall

Animal Welfare League throws one of its first ever fundraisers, a Fashion Parade at Burnside Town Hall, to raise much-needed funds to care for lost and abandoned animals.

5 November 1966

Rescue cattery added to Magill Road offices

AWL adds a rescue cattery to its headquarters at 48 Magill Road, Norwood to aid in its mission to rehome cats with loving families. 

1 December 1969

AWL organises very first Christmas Appeal

Six AWL members set up Christmas trees in their front yards to receive gifts for animals doing it tough. Supporters donated food, flea powder, blankets, towels and other various items to give to animals over the Christmas period. 

1 June 1970

AWL establishes animal ambulance service

The AWL team establishes an emergency animal ambulance service to attend to injured animals in the community and save even more lives. 

10 January 1971

AWL opens more retail stores

1971 saw Animal Welfare League open two more stores, an op shop in Woodville and a book exchange in Norwood, to raise even more funds for animals in need. These new sources of revenue for vulnerable animals join the already established op shop in Norwood and book exchange in Woodville West.

4 June 1976

Premier Don Dunstan opens AWL's new Wingfield shelter

With more animals needing help than ever in the history of Animal Welfare League, staff and volunteers needed to relocate to a larger, more practical space. 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. AWL's Wingfield Animal Care Centre is still its main shelter, featuring the organisation's pet boarding facility, foster care program and shelter vet clinic all in the one location. 

1 July 1976

AWL op shop opens in St Peters

Animal Welfare League officially opens a new op shop at 143 Payneham Road, St Peters to bolster its fundraising efforts. 

1 September 1979

AWL opens branch in Elizabeth

Recognising the demand for companion animals as pets in the northern suburbs, AWL opens a branch in Elizabeth. The new branch enables them to find even more homes for animals in need. 


2 February 1980

AWL Desexing Centre opens

Minister for Local Government, the Hon. Murray Hill, opens the Animal Welfare League Desexing Centre. The centre employs three staff, a vet and two part time nurses, to desex animals to help manage the stray population of dogs and cats in South Australia. 

1 March 1982

Pet crematorium opened at Wingfield site

AWL Pet Cremations officially opens to help pet owners say a proper goodbye and remember their beloved pets. AWL still offers this service at their Edinburgh North location to this day, helping more than 11,000 South Australian pet owners say goodbye every year. 100% of profits go back to the animals in the shelter, meaning every pet farewelled through AWL Pet Cremations leaves a legacy of love to other animals in need. 

23 December 1982

Joy Richardson, AWL founder, passes away

Joy Richardson, animal lover and founder of Animal Welfare League, passes away on December 23, 1982, leaving behind an awe-inspiring legacy of emapthy and love to animals in need. Hundreds of thousands of animals knew and will know love thanks to Joy's hard work and passion, and no single person in South Australia has had a larger impact on animal welfare than her.

1 June 1983

New complex at Wingfield shelter named after the late Joy Richardson

In memory of Joy Richardson and her mammoth efforts in saving countless lives, AWL names the updated adoption centre at Wingfield the Joy Richardson Centre.

9 March 1987

AWL opens op shop in Gawler

Expanding even further into the northern suburbs, Animal Welfare League opens its first Gawler op shop on the corner of Reid and Jacob Streets. Gawler's love of AWL has continued throughout the years, with the organisation having op shops at various locations in the town. Currently, the store is situated on Tod Street. 

30 October 1988

Animal Welfare League opens Pet Boarding facility

With more and more pet owners treating their pets as part of the family, many were looking for a safe, loving place to look after their pets for a short period of time while they couldn't. AWL recognised this, and opened their Pet Boarding facility to ensure furparents could leave their pets with someone they could trust. The AWL boarding facility still operates to this day, run by a team of dedicated of staff and volunteer pet lovers who treat all their guests as their own.

1 August 1999

AWL's Mobile Adoption Unit hits the streets

In an effort to educate current and future pet owners and promote some of the animals currently looking for homes, Animal Welfare League set up a Mobile Adoption Unit in August 1999. The hands-on service helped find homes for a number of animals and gave pet owners the tools they needed to be the very best furparents they could be. 

21 October 1999

AWL opens cat retirement home

With more senior cats in their care than ever, Animal Welfare League decided to open Peppertree Cottage, a cat retirement home where senior kitties could live out their twilight years knowing what it was like to feel loved. The cottage operated primarily for cats whose owners could no longer care for them due to age, sickness or death. 

While Peppertree Cottage no longer exists, Animal Welfare League now operates a Happy Hearts program that rehomes pets whose owners have passed away, giving pet owners peace of mind that their furbabies will be cared for long after they're gone. 

1 June 2000

AWL opens education centre for school children

In an effort to engage children and spark their love for animals at a young age, Animal Welfare League opened its very first educational centre. Schools would bring students to AWL for educational talks and presentations that taught them all about animal welfare and ways for them to get involved with AWL's mission to connect pets, people and community through a lifetime of love and memories. 

16 March 2002

AWL establishes Foster Care program

With its Wingfield shelter overflowing with animals in need, Animal Welfare League establishes a Foster Care program to enable volunteers to care for animals in their homes for a short period of time while they wait to be adopted. The Foster Care program still operates to this day, with around 30% of AWL's animal population in foster care at any given time. 

With more animals coming through their doors than ever before, AWL still needs foster care volunteers to temporarily care for some of its most vulnerable animals while they prepare for adoption. Learn more about AWL's Foster Care program by clicking on the photo of Kayla below, who is currently living it up in her own foster home.

2 September 2003

Kath Rooney awarded OAM for her work with AWL

Kath Rooney OAM is recognised for her hard work in establishing Animal Welfare League with a Medal of the Order of Australia. Kath was instrumental in turning AWL into the safe haven for animals that it is today. 

1 November 2003

Kath Evans OAM retires from AWL Board of Management

Along with Joy Richardson OAM and Kath Rooney OAM, Kath Evans OAM worked tirelessly in the early years of Animal Welfare League to ensure no animal got left behind. She dedicated her life to being a voice for the voiceless, and stepped down from the AWL Board of Management after 40 years of service to the cause. 

16 April 2005

Elizabeth West Shelter officially opens

Now known as the Edinburgh North Shelter (affectionately called 'Ed' by staff and volunteers), AWL's second shelter opened after the organisation took on the responsibility for the care and wellbeing of even more dogs after the closure of Sandy Creek Dog Sanctuary. Today, 'Ed' is the primary intake shelter for stray dogs and also operates as an adoption centre. 

31 January 2007

AWL rebrands for the modern era

Recognising the need for a facelift after recent expansion of the organisation, Animal Welfare League unveils a new, modernised logo to help bring it into the 21st century. The logo has changed a few times since this iteration but the colours are still the recognisable blue and green AWL has become known for. 


1 April 2013

AWL establishes A Pet's Breakfast

Animal Welfare League's Fundraising team sets up A Pet's Breakfast to empower its passionate, animal loving community to raise funds and awareness for animals in need by inviting their friends over for breakfast. The event was a huge success for AWL over many years, but they were forced to cancel it once COVID emerged in 2020. The good news? AWL is bringing it back in 2024! Keep an eye on their socials for the announcement 😏

18 January 2017

AWL builds new Pet Cremation facility at Ed North

With more and more pet owners seeing their pets as part of the family, there was a growing demand for pet cremation services in the community. AWL recognised this and built an upgraded, state-of-the-art facility next to their Edinburgh North Shelter that now performs over 11,000 pet cremations each year and helps grieving pet owners remember their furbabies in a dignified, compassionate manner. 

4 September 2020

AWL opens brand new Animal Care Centre

Animal Welfare League opened the brand new Animal Care Centre at its Wingfield site in September 2020. The centre features a dedicated cat adoption hub and best-practice vet facilities to ensure care for more vulnerable animals than ever in the organisation's history. This Australian-first offers a fear-free experience for dogs and cats, allowing potential adopters the chance to get to know the pets in the most stress-free environment possible. 

In its first three years, the new facility has enabled AWL to find loving homes for 8,259 animals, and the state-of-the-art vet clinic has enabled AWL's vet team to perform 54,247 consults and surgeries. The Animal Care Centre was funded entirely by compassionate, generous people who just wanted better for vulnerable animals - without those people, none of this work would have been possible. 

We can't wait to continue working with the South Australian community well into the future to continue making our mission a reality: connecting pets, people and community through a lifetime of love and memories. 

Animal Welfare League