Prior to Kayla Denney taking over an animal shelter in Taft, Texas, the kill rate was nearly 100%. Denney, on the other hand, managed to reduce that figure to 0% in just five months.
Kayla quit her job as an accountant to pursue her dream of assisting in the rescue of animals. She became an animal control officer while also working as a shelter manager.
When she first started working at the city shelter, it was in disrepair and had no electricity. It was in desperate need of repair, but due to the limited budget, supplies were scarce.
“We did have what they call ‘blue juice,’ to euthanize animals,” said Denise Hitt, the City Manager.
Before Kayla arrived, Chief of Police John Cornish recalled, “Every Wednesday was the kill day.” It was dreadful.”
John hoped for the day when the city would have a no-kill shelter. That dream became a reality when Kayla arrived.
The first thing she did was post a request for supplies and donations on her personal Facebook page, and she asked that no negative comments be posted. Her post went viral in her hometown, and she was able to collect over 800 boxes of supplies to assist her in transforming the shelter.
Kayla’s next goal was to improve the lives of shelter pets. She set out to find volunteers to help her walk, play, and care for the animals. She also created a Facebook page to promote the shelter’s adorable pets looking for forever homes. She also contacted local fosters and rescues to assist the animals in finding permanent homes.
Slowly but steadily, the shelter began to change. It now has electricity, and the animals that come through are being placed in loving homes.
Within a year, Kayla transformed a run-down city shelter with a high kill rate into what it is today, and she changed the kill rate to 100% saves. Kayla’s dedication to animals was recognized by the Petco Foundation, which presented her with the 2019 National Unsung Hero Award, which came with a $35,000 prize.
Rather than keeping the money, Kayla intends to use it to improve the shelter even more.
Kayla told KZTV, “I want indoor-outdoor kennels with a guillotine in between so we can put them inside when it rains.” We want a place where they can have a meet-and-greet in the field and where they can spend time on the grass rather than just the cement.”
She is also known to visit different neighborhoods and check in on people’s pets in order to provide support, advice, and supplies to the owners.
“They are beginning to realize that I am not here to pick up their animals and take them away here in Taft.” “I’m here to make sure the animal is taken care of,” she explained.
Kayla said after receiving the Petco award, “You guys just helped me save dogs.” Every dog deserves a second chance, whether it comes from my shelter or not.”
Denney told KZTV, “As of November 1, we had saved 565 dogs and cats from Taft.” That is incredible news. Congratulations, Kayla. You truly are a heroine to be admired. Continue your good work!