It takes a special kind of hero to speak up for those who can’t speak for themselves. The sad reality is, there are far more animals waiting for homes than there are homes waiting for animals, and shelters across the US are forced to euthanize adoptable animals due to a lack of space and resources. When Kayla Denney learned that one shelter in Taft, Texas had a nearly 100% euthanasia rate, she dedicated herself fully to becoming the hero the animals of Taft so desperately needed.
Denney loved animals, so much so that she left her accounting career to become an animal control officer and shelter manager. Due to the city’s limited budget, the local animal shelter didn’t even have electricity, let alone supplies to care for their animals. Seeing the animals enter the shelter and never leave devastated the animal lover, and her far-fetched dream of seeing a no-kill shelter in the area seemed out of reach.
But with the animals counting on her, Denney put aside her doubts and jumped in feet-first. She shared her plea for donations and supplies on social media, a cry for help that ended up tugging at heartstrings around the world. More than 800 boxes of supplies soon entered the shelter, and with renewed faith in humanity, Denney began coordinating volunteers and foster homes to give the shelter animals adequate attention and care.
The dedicated animal lover’s voice was heard far and wide, and community members began opening their homes and sharing their time to work towards Denney’s dream. One year ago, Wednesdays marked “kill day” in the dark and bare animal shelter – the day that each hopeful animal’s time in the shelter came to a bitter end. Today, the shelter is bright and filled with supplies. More importantly, the shelter has reached an astonishing 100% save rate.
Denney’s hard work and dedication earned her Petco’s 2019 “Unsung Hero” award, an honor that came with a $35,000 prize.
“There are thousands of applicants, I didn’t know I was nominated,” Denney told KZTV10. “I became the 2019 unsung hero for the country so one person in the whole United States and it still just blows my mind that that’s still a thing.”
Surely after a solid year of endless work, Denney deserves a break – the $35,000 award could buy one heck of a vacation. But as heroes do, Denney realized the money would be better spent elsewhere. She put every cent back into the shelter, still dreaming of improvements she could make. Though the shelter is worlds away from where it was two years ago, Denney isn’t stopping. She proves that all it takes is one person to make a world of difference – it’s a reminder that with enough passion and hard work, anything is possible.
A massive round of appaws for Denney, and everyone who stepped up to make this life-saving dream a reality.