Lifestyle & Human Interest

'Unsung Hero' Brought Animal Shelter's Kill Rate from Almost 100% All the Way Down to Zero


Most of us who own animals feel good about ourselves if the pets we bring in are rescues. It may just be a dog or two, but for those animals, it means everything.

While noble, that’s small change to Kayla Denney of Taft, Texas, who — over the course of a year — has saved hundreds cats and dogs. “As of November 1st, we have saved 565 dogs and cats out of Taft,” she told KZTV.

“It’s been 366 days since my first day as an animal control officer for the City of Taft,” she posted to Facebook on Sunday.

“There were 6 total dogs in the shelter when i started. They stayed there for 3 months being cared for by city staff. The city wanted no to low kill but wasnt sure how to obtain it.”

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Denney admitted she didn’t know how to make their no-kill dreams come true, she just knew something had to change. The shelter was in disrepair, there was no Facebook presence and most of the dogs who walked in never walked out again.

“I wasn’t sure how to make it happen or what I was getting into either,” she admitted. “But we have done it. We have successfully stayed at a 100% live release rate of all dogs and cats that have come in the shelter.”

According to a WNCN video, she started from the ground up, working with the locals to help them care for their animals and starting to post online for the shelter. Donations started pouring in, and it wasn’t long before the shelter was a much cheerier and better-stocked place than it had been.

People started to notice — not just the kind donors who sent in supplies, but the Petco Foundation, which awarded Denney a $10,000 check for her efforts as part of its “Unsung Hero” campaign.

“Nationals will be here in April, so stay tuned for how you can vote for me!!!” Denney posted on March 2. “Consists of: $25,000 to put towards my shelter/mission and a fully paid trip to San Diego to attend a gala!”

While all the nominees have done great work to help out animals in need, it was Denney who ended up winning first place and a visit from famed dog trainer Victoria Stilwell.

“I cant get myself to watch the video because I almost cried reading the article,” Denney posted on Wednesday. “It feels surreal for this to be happening still. Please someone pinch me.”

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“The city of Taft wanted this to happen, I didnt know how I was going to do it… but we have done it! See you soon California!!”

Denney has grand plans for the grand prize money, and intends to put the $35,000 to very good use.

“It’s an older shelter and it’s run down,” she told KZTV. “We got lights thanks to a donor who put in electricity for us, but 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 meet and greet out in the field and somewhere, they can have grass time rather than just cement time.”

In the meantime, if you’d like to help Denney and her furry charges, you can purchase items off their Amazon wish list.

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