Thanks to this lady, Kayla Denney, the kill rate in one Texas animal shelter was virtually wiped out in only five months!! Kudos to Kayla! It had been a very long held dream of hers to save animals and not just a few. She wanted to make a real difference in the lives of each animal and in the way shelters dealt with hard to place animals.
The work associated with being an animal control officer allowed interaction with dogs as individuals and was satisfying in that regard. However, the desire to make big changes that would have an impact of many animals over time was still there.
Accepting the position of manager of the city animal shelter was a major undertaking, to say the least. She had known it was run down but it was shocking to learn that there was no electricity !
The facility needed a significant degree of repair just to be safe, let alone to provide comfortable housng for the homeless anmals in their care. The budget she was given to work with could only provide a bare minimum of supplies.
Thanks to this lady, the city officials have much to brag about.
When interviewed for a Southern Living article about Petco’s Unsung Hero awards, the City Manager (Denise Hitt) made the following comment. “We did have what they call the ‘blue juice’, to euthanize animals.”
John Cornish is the Chief of Police and he shared an important piece of history for us. Until Kayla came to be in charge of the shelter, “Every Wednesday was the kill day. It was horrible.”
Chief Cornish had long dreamt of the time when there would be a no-kill shelter in the city. Thanks to this lady, this was no longer a dream, it was a reality.
How Kayla made this happen in three basic steps
Immediately after becomoing manager of the shelter, Kayla made a list of the supplies they needed to transform the decrepit facility into an actual shelter. Next, she tok advantage of social media. A Facebook post on her personal page set the tone for the campaign when she asked that no negative comments be made.
Her plea for help led to supplies and donations pouring in to the shelter. The post went viral. From the local area alone, the shelter received more 800 boxes of supplies.
Once Kayla had the supplies she needed to care for the animals she moved on to the next step. It was time to improve upon the social environment of the shelter. The animals needed animal lovers to take care of them while they were in the shelter.
The animals needed more than just a roof over their heads and good food in their little tummies. Kayla realized the importance of walking, playing and being groomed. So, she began to recruit volunteers to meet these very important needs of the animals in their care.
The third, and also a very important, step was to set up a FaceBook page for the shelter. The shelter used this social mediaoutlet to highlight the now happy and healthy pets needing a family of their own. Part B of this third step was to contact known foster fur parents and rescue groups to help find families for these precious animals in her care.
Where the shelter is now, thanks to this lady
In a little less than a year, the shelter had been transformed from a decrepit shelter with an exceptionally high rate of euthanasia into the example of excellence it is today. They no longer have a kill rate because they save virtually all animals in their care.
Kayla’s dedication and persistently hard work paid off handsomely. When Petco Foundation heard about Kayla’s outstanding accomplishment, they awarded her the 2019 National Unsung Hero Award.
Along with the honor and recognition for her dedication to the animals and to improving the shelter came a check for $35,000.
She could legitimately kept the money for herself. However, in Kayla fashion, she intends to invest the money into continued shelter improvement.
What does the future hold for the shelter?
Shelter outreach into the community
She is known throughout the town as the one who transformed the shelter from a kill center to one that saves all animals. But, she is also known to help people take better care of their pets.
Kayla often visits various neighborhoods, meeting with people to offer whatever help they might need. It could be advice, supplies or actual physical support to help them keep their pets at home.
“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,” Kayla explained.
When awarded the Petco check, 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,” Kayla shared with KZTV.
Kudos to Kayla Denney for her amazing gift to the animals and the people of Taft!
Kayla Denney is an incredibly inspiring individual and deserves all the praise and recognition we can give her. Frankly, I hope you will help share her story with others. Maybe someone else will be inspired to follow in her footsteps!
Another wonderful story of how a community responded to the needs of homeless dogs:
Original story from Chris Winters
Photo of Kayla and puppy thanks to PETCO FOUNDATION
southernliving.com article on the Petco Unsung Hero Awards
Video thanks to YouTube