It was nearly 100 percent kill rate at the Taft Animal Shelter before Kayla Denney came over as director. That figure was reduced to zero percent in only five short months, thanks to Denney.
For Kayla, leaving her work as an accountant was the first step in realizing her passion of assisting in animal rescue. While working as an animal control officer, she is also a shelter manager, which is something she has always wanted to do.
When she initially started working there, the municipal shelter was in poor condition and had no power to provide for the residents. There were many things that needed to be repaired, but because of the tight budget, only a few materials were available.
In the words of Denise Hitt, the city’s manager, “We did have what they call ‘blue juice,’ which was used to put animals to sleep.”
John Cornish, Chief of Police, said that before to Kayla’s arrival, “Every Wednesday was kill day.” “It was a nightmare.”
It was John’s goal to see the day when a no-kill shelter could be established in the city. That desire became a reality when Kayla appeared on the scene.
The first thing she did was post a message on her own Facebook page, asking for supplies and contributions, and requesting that no harsh remarks be posted on her page. She was able to collect more than 800 cartons of materials to assist her in transforming the shelter after her post went viral in her own community.
Kayla’s next move was to devote her time and energy to improving the lives of shelter animals. She began out on a search for volunteers who would be willing to assist with walking, playing, and caring for the animals. She also created a Facebook page in order to raise awareness of the shelter’s gorgeous animals who were in need of forever homes at the time. She also went out to foster homes and animal rescue organizations in the region in order to assist the animals in finding permanent homes.
It took time, but the shelter started to take shape slowly but steadily. Today, it is equipped with power, and the animals that pass through are kept in caring environments.
Within a year, Kayla was able to transform a dilapidated city shelter with a high death rate into what it is now, and she was able to alter the kill rate from 50 percent to 100 percent saving lives. When the Petco Foundation learned about Kayla’s passion for animals and learned that she had been nominated for the 2019 National Unsung Hero Award, they honored her with a prize of $35,000 in recognition of her efforts.
Rather than keeping the money, Kayla has grand plans to use the funds to improve the shelter even more in the coming years.
In an interview with KZTV, Kayla expressed her desire for “indoor-outdoor kennels with a guillotine between them so that when it rains we can bring them inside.” We want a place where they can meet and greet on the field, as well as a place where they can spend time on the grass rather than on the pavement.”
Additionally, she has been known to visit other neighborhoods and check in on people’s animals in order to provide encouragement, guidance, and supplies to the owners.
“People in Taft are beginning to realize that I am not coming to pick up their animals and transport them away. The purpose of my visit is to see to it that the animal is being taken care of,” she said.
After winning the Petco award, Kayla stated, “You guys just helped me rescue dogs. Every dog deserves a chance, whether it is my shelter or not.”
“As of November 1, we have rescued 565 dogs and kittens out of Taft,” Denney told KZTV. That is absolutely great news. Well done, Kayla. You certainly are an incredible heroine. Keep it up!
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