A gray cat relaxes on a comfortable office chair at CAWS.

In Paonia, a certain downtown cat shelter aims to fight the overpopulation of cats by spaying, neutering and adopting out.

Delta County Citizens for Animal Welfare and Shelter (CAWS) is located on Grand Avenue, across the street from Paonia Town Hall, to the right of the Paradise Theatre. Since June, they’ve been taking in cats. According to CAWS President Suzie Normandin, they’ve had about 79 cats since then, and they’ve found homes for 66.

“What we’d like to do is get people more aware that we are here,” Normandin said.

CAWS used to operate out of Delta as a full animal shelter, according to Normandin, but in downtown Paonia, it operates as a cat shelter. It does, however, work with other county facilities to shelter dogs, Normandin said. They have worked with TAILS Adoption Center in Delta and Surface Creek Animal Shelter in Cedaredge.

According to Normandin, the Paonia shelter is operated by an entirely new group of people.

“It’s an all-volunteer organization with the exception of our shelter manager,” Normandin said. “In the two years since we reorganized, we have purchased the building on Grand Avenue, Paonia, and that building houses our thrift shop which supports the shelter that’s in the back of the building.”

The CAWS team purchased the building in the first half of 2018, did a cosmetic remodel and opened a thrift store, Normandin said. During the end of 2018 and the beginning of 2019, they created the shelter area and raised money for the shelter area and equipment.

According to Normandin, the setup was done mostly on a volunteer basis, with the exception of “a few contractors,” and the money was raised mainly within the North Fork Valley.

The shelter has further plans for improvement in the future as well.

“If we can get the funding, we’re hoping to add vaccination clinics to our program — low cost vaccination clinics,” Normandin said. “There’s a lot of people in this county that have cats, that can’t really afford to give them basic healthcare, and we’re trying to do what we can to alleviate that.”

Another program in CAWS’s future is a partnership with Finding Rover, which uses new facial recognition technology to identify lost pets. With the partnership, every pet that enters the shelter will be registered on Finding Rover, which will provide a network of animal identification. People can also register their pets on

Anyone can go to CAWS to adopt cats for a $75 adoption fee at 213 Grand Ave., and can call 970-527-5111 to speak to someone at the shelter and thrift store during business hours. The shelter is open Tuesday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., and the thrift store is open Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-4 p.m.

CAWS can receive donations and mail at P.O. Box 1736, Paonia, zip code 81428.

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