Sometimes you don’t necessarily have to change the world in order to make a difference. Sometimes, all it takes is changing the world for one person – or stray animal as Kayla Denney does. She’s changed the world for more than one stray and abandoned animal down in Taft, Texas.
Kayla is someone who left her accountancy job 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, as well as any other job needed to help an animal. When she took the job, the city shelter was run down – having no electricity, let alone any publicity in order to help place shelter pets into forever homes.
Worse still, the shelter was a high-kill shelter. 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.”
Both Denise and John dreamed of a day when they could have a no-kill shelter in the city, and thankfully, when Kayla arrived, that dream became a reality.
When Kayla arrived at the shelter, the first thing she did was post to her personal Facebook page asking for supplies, donations, and no negative comments. People really stepped up as over 800 boxes of supplies arrived in order 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.
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 use the money and invest it further into enhancing the shelter.
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.”
And this amazing woman’s good deeds don’t just begin and end with her city shelter. She is known to frequently visit different neighborhoods in order to check in on the animals and 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.”
Since the beginning of the year, more than 500 cats and dogs have entered the shelter, with not one getting euthanized. That is such amazing news. Well done, Kayla. You truly are an inspiring heroine. Keep it up!
For more information, watch the video below: