100% Kill Rate Shelter Goes No-Kill Thanks To One Dedicated Woman

Amazing, Dogs, Kayla Denney, no kill, Taft Animal Control

Kayla Denney took over the Taft Animal Control Center less than one year ago. When she came to the shelter in Taft, Texas, it was a sad mess. They were euthanizing nearly 100% of the dogs seeking refuge there. She completely devoted herself to the task of finding forever homes for the dogs in her shelter and her efforts have seriously paid off. For her efforts, she has been awarded the 2019 National ‘Unsung Hero” Award by Petco.

Image Screenshot PetCo Foundation/YouTube

Wednesdays Were “Kill Day”

Before Kayla was running the shelter, the only human resources available to the dogs were the city of Taft’s Chief of Police John Cornish and the city manager Denise Hitt. The shelter was a shambles. They had an extremely limited budget and no electricity. There was running water and a hose to clean out the kennels but no other proper equipment or supplies. There were no volunteers helping out. They did have what is called “the blue juice” that is used to euthanize animals. Chief Cornish and Ms. Hitt said every Wednesday was the “Kill Day” because every Wednesday they had to euthanize nearly every animal at the shelter. And it was awful.



With teary eyes, Chief Cornish told PetCo Foundation, “It was horrible.” Ms. Hitt said, “The animals looked sad. The building looked sad. And do I decided that we were going to make a change.” Hitt and Cornish discussed a shared dream of Taft Animal Control becoming a no-kill shelter. That is when the city went to Kayla Denney and asked her to take on the job.

Image Screenshot PetCo Foundation/YouTube

Kayla Reached Out and the Community Responded

The shelter did not have a Facebook page so Kayla made an announcement on her personal page. She was taking on the job of Animal Control Officer/Supervisor for Taft. She had one request of her followers. If they didn’t have anything nice to say, they shouldn’t say anything at all. But her friends, followers, and contacts surprised her, flooding her page with nothing but positive comments about the challenge she was facing head on. Friends, fosters and rescue groups promised to help her make the shelter look and operate better. And boy did they deliver!



The response was overwhelming. Packages started arriving filled with supplies. In no time at all, the shelter had received 800 boxes of supplies. The stash grew so large that it overflowed from one storage room into another. A community member made a donation that enabled the shelter to have electricity installed for the first time. She started recruiting volunteers from the community and many stepped up to help out. In her patrols around town, she fostered relationships with families that needed a little help caring for their pets. She positioned herself as a helper, not a threat, and the community members grew to trust her. Since she started the job, not a single animal has been euthanized at the shelter. Not one.

Image PetCo Foundation/YouTube

Winner out of Thousands of Nominees Nationwide

Kayla was not even aware that she was in the running for the award that receives thousands of nominees each and every year. PetCo Foundation announced that she was in the top 5 as a finalist in the competition, which gave her the opportunity to fly out to San Diego to collect a $10,000 award. When she was chosen as the winner, a spokesperson for PetCo Foundation, volunteers, community members, and city officials gathered at the shelter to surprise Kayla. She was the winner and would be flown to San Diego once again, this time to collect $25,000 from PetCo Foundation.

Image Screenshot PetCo Foundation/YouTube

Prize Money Going Back to the Pups

Kayla has big plans for the shelter in Taft. She wants indoor and outdoor kennels with a guillotine that will allow her to easily let dogs in and out of the rain. She would like to put in dog runs in the grass so they can get more grass time. And just as you’d expect from someone who devotes herself as much as Kayla, she plans to put every bit of her award money back into the shelter.



Congratulations to Kayla and Taft Animal Control for a well deserved win! Thank you for your tireless efforts to save the lives of dogs.

2019 Unsung Hero – Kayla Denney



On November 14, Kayla Denny will receive the national Unsung Hero award at the Petco Foundation Lifesaving Impact Awards. 👮‍♀🏆👏 Petco Foundation and Victoria Stilwell need your help to determine next year’s recipient.📣❗ Nominate an Unsung Hero from your organization who deserves recognition for their lifesaving work at petcofoundation.org/unsungheroes. 🐾

Posted by Petco Foundation on Tuesday, September 24, 2019

Featured Image PetCo Foundation/YouTube

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