Founded in 1948
AWA was founded in October of 1948 by four women who were disgusted by the horrific conditions they saw at local for-profit pounds. These animal lovers had a vision that there would be an alternative to the pain, suffering and sure death most animals face when impounded. The group held their first meeting in a living room and turned their vision into reality, calling themselves “Baby Animal Welfare.”
AWA in the 1960’s
In 1960, AWA became the third organization in the United States to be accepted into the Humane Society of the United States’ affiliate program for adhering to humane standards. Two years later, Charles Clausing, AWA’s president, appeared in front of the House of Representatives concerning a bill on stealing pets from homes and the pound for research. It was part of his testimony that later became the Animal Welfare Act.
In 1966, after years of fundraising, AWA purchased ten acres of land and erected a building in Voorhees, New Jersey. It was a state-of-the-art animal shelter and humane society, and a model for other shelters to follow. AWA immediately implemented a progressive adoption program requiring adopters to sign a contract agreeing to spay any female from the organization.
AWA in the 1980’s
By the 1980’s, research had begun to show that senior citizens and special needs children were benefiting from the unconditional love that animals provided. Therefore, AWA began a structured program where volunteers would bring animals to local nursing homes on a regular basis. The program proved to be a great success. Lonely seniors who had never spoken before, would speak to the animals while petting them. This vital program continues today.
In 1985, AWA received a $7,000 grant from the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation to hire a formal Humane Education Director and a former school teacher was hired for the position. AWA continued to educate children through our Kindness Camp, a variation of our current summer camp program. Our outreach program exists today and is continuously expanding.
AWA in the 2000’s
The turn of the century was an exciting time for AWA. In the early 2000’s, AWA formally adapted a no-kill philosophy.
AWA launched a program to address the animal welfare crisis in Camden City by purchasing a mobile clinic spay/neuter van. The van provides on site spay/neuter and vaccination services for residents’ pets at low cost.
In 2006, we formalized our Foster Care Program whereby volunteers provide temporary homes for animals prior to adoption. These animals typically need specialized, round-the-clock care, whether they are too young or recovering from an illness/injury.
A year later, we opened our began offering our Vaccine Clinic services. This philosophy means that no animal is euthanized due to space, length of stay or for treatable/manageable conditions. In 2009, AWA introduced our Transport program. Through this program, we save pets from open admission/high euthanasia shelters in our region and beyond.
In 2010, we launched our pet retention and rehoming program to help people work with their pets in order to keep them. Later that year, we began advocating for a Trap Neuter Return program, in which we vaccinate and spay/neuter feral cats and return them back to their community. This is a humane way to help lower the feral cat population and save lives.
In 2011, we expanded our Adoption Center lobby, and in 2013 we began the expansion of our clinic. Our Veterinary Clinic provides high-quality care at low cost for local pets along with shelter and rescue group pets. Our clinic provides a variety of products and services.