California, MD – Ten-year-old Colonel, a Yellow Lab rescue in foster care with St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League (SMAWL), urgently needs a $3,000 surgery to correct a congenital hernia that has his internal organs wrapped around his heart. 

Colonel, who was initially taken in by Tri-County Animal Shelter as a stray, has been with St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League since April. It didn’t take long for his foster family to realize something was wrong.  

“When you first meet Colonel, you are met with a gentle soul with the sweetest eyes,” said SMAWL volunteer Aimee Llewellyn. “But his loving demeanor wasn’t enough to cover the obvious discomfort he was in.” 

That’s when SMAWL took Colonel to partnering veterinarian All Kinds Veterinary Hospital, where he was diagnosed with a Peritoneal-pericardial diaphragmatic hernia, a rare condition that causes him to become short of breath so he cannot play like other dogs. 

“It breaks your heart to see how playful he is, but then see his condition stop him in his tracks. We don’t know much about his early years or how long he has battled this, but we do know this is treatable with surgery,” said Llewellyn. “He deserves to live the remainder of his years without being robbed of the most basic freedoms like a nice, long walk.” 

SMAWL relies entirely on community donors to financially support all facets of its mission, which includes providing routine and emergency medical care to rescue animals like Colonel.

However, as population growth continues to rise in the area, so too does the amount of animals needing rescued, foster placement and medical care. 

“We don’t currently have the funds to cover Colonel’s emergency surgery, and so we are humbly asking the community to support our new Emergency Medical Care Fund,” said SMAWL President Katie Werner. “As a growing nonprofit, we realized we need to think bigger to ensure that no future rescue animal is placed on a wait list for such a necessity as medical care.” 

As a result, the fund is set up with an initial goal of raising $10,000, which will allow the nonprofit to immediately care for Colonel while also creating a safety net for future rescues in the most vulnerable of circumstances.  

“When you donate to our Emergency Medical Care Fund, you are helping our rescue animals through the most vital part of their journeys, helping them find strength again,” added Werner. “Once the healing begins, they are one step closer to finding their forever homes.” 

Last year, SMAWL spent more than $60,000 to render care to animals that would have otherwise been euthanized. This includes routine care as well as emergency care. 

These funds had immediate, life-changing impacts. Take the case of Percy, a five-year-old Bichon who had been neglected under abusive conditions. His desire for human companionship amidst extreme trauma shocked the SMAWL rescue team, but after receiving medical attention – and a lot of love and patience – Percy has come full circle and is thriving with his forever family. 

As of Sunday, May 22, the new fund has raised $510. Those interested in donating can do so online by going to and entering “SMAWL Emergency Medical Care Fund” in the search bar. Donations can also be made on our website,, or by mail to P.O. Box 1232, Leonardtown, MD 20650. 

About St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League  

Founded by four volunteers in 1990, SMAWL is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the rescue, care and placement of abused, neglected and homeless companion animals in the county and surrounding areas. Staying true to its founding roots, SMAWL continues to operate under the heartfelt dedication of volunteers and a governing Board of Directors.   

In response to growing community need, SMAWL has expanded its mission beyond animal rescue to include animal welfare, community education and legislative advocacy as part of its services, giving the animals of St. Mary’s County the voice they so desperately need.   

At any given time, there are about 100 adoptable animals awaiting their forever homes. While SMAWL runs the Cat Castle Rescue Center in Callaway Village Shopping Center, the organization relies upon volunteer foster families to shelter adoptable animals, with long-term plans of opening a permanent shelter and headquarters to better serve the community.    For more information and ways to help, please visit Also on Facebook as “St. Mary’s Animal Welfare League.”