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Lakewood's Angels With Paws could use some human angels to stay afloat

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Angels With Paws, a small Lakewood cat shelter, is struggling financially because larger shelters in the Denver metro area have had a deluge of cats and have been discounting adoption fees.

Angels With Paws depends on adoptions for a substantial part if its income, said Jean Ausenbergh, head of the 65-animal-limit operation at 2540 Youngfield St. But the other shelters have drawn adoptions away because of deep discounts intended to lessen their glut of felines.

Most shelters are generally full of cats and kittens during "kitten season," the warmer time of year with longer days when cats are out and about and giving birth.

But this year, some shelters were still seeing the phenomenon well into autumn.

As of late October, kitten season (May-August) never stopped at the Dumb Friends League. "We don't know the reasons," said Chris Gallegos, a League spokesman, at the time. "We're kind of baffled."

Even today, the League is waving fees for cats one year or older.

The situation is kind of a good-news/bad-news thing for Ausenbergh. On the one hand, she's glad to see all these felines getting adopted rather than being put down. On the other, adoptions at Angels With Paws have dropped from 2,000 in 2010 to 300 so far this year.

One step taken at the shelter has been temporarily closing it two days a week, Tuesdays and Thursdays.

Another step has been relocating the shelter's free-standing thrift shop to a spot where it can be better seen. That has increased traffic, Ausenbergh said.

The shelter is also making a stronger pitch for donations and thinking about staging larger fundraising events than it has had in the past, she said.

More people coming into the 10-year-old shelter to look at the cats would be beneficial, too, Ausenbergh insisted.

"If people would only come in and look it would help," she said."I know people like younger animals, but they could consider the older cats, too, "

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