The inspiring feat has earned Kayla Denney the Petco Foundation Unsung Hero award. 

Kayla Denney
Credit: Petco Foundation

Before Kayla Denney took over last November, the animal shelter in Taft, Texas, had a kill rate of almost 100%. But in just five months, Denney managed to bring that number to 0%. That means that every single cat and dog that passed through the shelter last year has found a forever home.

"As of November 1, we have saved 565 dogs and cats out of Taft," Denney told KZTV.

She is, quite literally, a lifesaver.

When the chief of police appointed Denney, a former accountant, as the City of Taft Animal Control Department's lead animal control officer, the underfunded shelter was a mess. It had no electricity, no volunteers, and nearly every one of its four-legged residents were doomed.

So, Denney took things into her own hands and reached out to her Facebook friends for support. Donations quickly poured in.

"I had over 800 boxes delivered, and the some that we had to move to make room so we could walk in here," she recalled.

The small San Patricio County community took notice of Denney's incredible work, and she was nominated for the 2019 Petco Foundation Unsung Hero award. Out of thousands of nominees, Denney made the top five in February and was awarded $10,000 for Taft Animal Control. And just this week, she found out that she won first place, earning her an additional $25,000 for her shelter.

Denney is flying to San Diego, California, to accept her award on Monday. She said she's still having a hard time wrapping her mind around it all. She didn't even know she was nominated.

"I became the 2019 unsung hero for the country, so one person in the whole United States. It still just blows my mind that that's still a thing," she KZTV.

You can watch Denney accept her accolade during this year's Lifesaving Awards while it streams live on the Petco Foundation Facebook channel at 7:30 p.m. CST.

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As for the money, Denney plans to put it all into the shelter.

"It's an older shelter and it's run down. We got lights thanks to a donor who put in electricity for us, but I want indoor outdoor kennels with a guillotine in between so when it's raining, we can put them inside," she explained. "We want an area where they can have meet and greet out in the field and somewhere, they can have grass time rather than just cement time."

Congratulations, Kayla, and thank you for all that you do.