In April, volunteer Mary Baldwin fostered in her home an abandoned gray tabby cat that she thought had been shot: A gash four inches wide stretched across his shoulders.

It turned out he had been attacked by dogs.

Four months later, a healed Remington happily squints his green eyes and flexes his paws, meowing from his kennel at the Calvert Animal Welfare League's new animal shelter in Prince Frederick. He's one of the first animals up for adoption.

For years, the group, known as CAWL, has depended on foster families and volunteers such as Baldwin to care for animals waiting to find a permanent home. But last week, the organization opened its first animal shelter on Theater Drive just off of Route 4.

CAWL members want the facility to play a key role in Southern Maryland, where there is only one public animal shelter, in Hughesville, for the three-county area.

"The Tri-County Animal Shelter has been so overburdened because Southern Maryland has grown so rapidly," said Teresa Culver, one of the directors of CAWL. "We needed this private, centrally based facility."

In 1995, CAWL purchased the five-acre site for the shelter. Since then, the group has pieced together donations to build the new facility, complete with an education room, kennels designed for easy cleaning and maintenance, and visitation rooms where potential owners can get to know animals.

"We spent 10 years raising $300,000" to build it, Culver said.

But the group is still seeking donations and corporate sponsors to help pay the mortgage of more than $500,000.

"We've had a lot of support in the past," said CAWL President Lois Flesner, of St. Leonard, "but right now we have a very large mortgage and need financial support."

To raise money, volunteers plan to hold a yard sale Saturday and a "pet walk" in October.

As many as 35 shelter volunteers care for the animals and oversee the finances of the nonprofit group. Eventually, CAWL hopes to hire full-time employees to staff the facility around the clock, Culver sad.

Until then, they can keep only a handful of animals at the shelter, including Remington, the 11-pound tabby.

Baldwin, the adoption counselor, took Remington home April 13 and nursed him to health by the end of the month. He came to the shelter when it opened a week ago.

"He's very dependent and loving," said Baldwin, who added that it was hard not to keep him for herself.

People call from as far away as Baltimore asking CAWL to take in abandoned animals. The group also partners with Petsmart stores in Anne Arundel County and Prince George's County to help the animals get adopted.

CAWL follows a no-kill policy, but it often has to turn away animals, who then go to the Tri-County Shelter, where animals that don't find new homes are euthanized.

"Our policy is going to be to take animals we believe are adoptable," Flesner said.

All new animals are quarantined for several days in a room with separate ventilation so that diseases will not spread to other animals in the building.

Chance, a 12-week-old longhair kitten in quarantine, nursed his right paw Friday as he looked wide-eyed out of his cage.

He was found in a dumpster with a sprained ankle -- he was feverish, filthy and malnourished. Volunteers are taking care of him as he recovers in the shelter.

The St. Mary's Animal Welfare League, SMAWL, is seeking to build a similar shelter in St. Mary's. The group has a six-acre site in Mechanicsville.

All of the CAWL animals come with up-to-date vaccinations and have been neutered or spayed. To help cover some of the shelter expenses, CAWL charges adoption fees of $120 for cats and $150 for dogs. The shelter is open for adoptions from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday through Sunday. More information is available at www.cawl.us, or for SMAWL, call 301-373-5659.

Culver said the volunteers are people who saw a need in the community.

"We're just ordinary people. We're moms, we're businessmen, we're retired," Culver said. "We just saw a need."

Remington is one of the first animals up for adoption at the Calvert Animal Welfare League's new shelter in Prince Frederick. The gray tabby has an admirer in CAWL President Lois Flesner. CAWL volunteer Dottie Long walks a dog up for adoption on the grounds of the group's new no-kill shelter in Prince Frederick.