Before Kayla Denney took over an animal shelter in Taft, Texas, the kill rate was almost 100%. But in just five short months, Denney managed to bring that number to 0%.Kayla left her job as an accountant in order to pursue her dream of helping to save animals. She took up a job as an animal control officer but also works as a shelter manager.
When she first took the job, the city shelter was run down and had no electricity. It was in desperate need of repair, but since it had a limited budget, there were very minimal supplies.As Denise Hitt, the City Manager, said, “We did have what they call the ‘blue juice’, to euthanize animals.”Chief of Police, John Cornish, recalled that before Kayla arrived, “Every Wednesday was the kill day. It was horrible.”
John dreamt of the day when there could be a no-kill shelter in the city. When Kayla arrived, that dream became a reality.The first thing she did was post to her personal Facebook page asking for supplies, donations, and asked that nobody post any negative comments. Her post went viral in her local town and she was able to gather over 800 boxes of supplies to help her transform the shelter.
Kayla’s next step was to focus on improving the lives of shelter pets. She set out to round up volunteers willing to help walk, play, and care for the animals. She also set up a Facebook page in order to promote the shelter’s adorable pets who were looking for their forever homes. She also reached out to fosters and rescues in the area to help the animals find their permanent families.
Slowly but surely, the shelter began to transform. Today, it’s got electricity and the animals coming through are being placed in loving homes.
PHOTO: PETCO FOUNDATION
Within a year, Kayla managed to turn a run-down city shelter with a high-kill rate into what it is today, and she managed to change the kill rate into 100% saves. All her hard work was definitely paying off as the Petco Foundation heard about Kayla’s dedication to the animals, and awarded her the 2019 National Unsung Hero Award – it came with a prize of $35,000.
Rather than keep the money, Kayla has big plans to invest the money into enhancing the shelter even more.
Kayla told KZTV, “I want indoor-outdoor kennels with a guillotine in between so when it’s raining we can put them inside. We want an area where they can have a meet and greet out in the field and somewhere, they can have grass time rather than just cement time.”
PHOTO: PETCO FOUNDATION
She is also known to visit different neighborhoods and check in on people’s animals to offer support, advice, and supplies to the owners.
“Here in Taft, they are starting to see that I am not here to pick up their animals and take them away. I am here to make sure that the animal is taken care of,” she said.
After receiving the Petco award, Kayla said, “You guys just helped me save dogs. Every dog deserves a chance, whether it is my shelter or not.”
“As of November 1, we have saved 565 dogs and cats out of Taft,” Denney told KZTV. That is such amazing news. Well done, Kayla. You truly are an inspiring heroine. Keep it up!