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Texas Woman Wins Award After Reducing Animal Shelter’s Kill Rate From 100% to 0%
A mixed-breed dog looking sad behind a fence in a dog shelter in Mexico City - stock photo
Sergio Mendoza Hochmann via Getty Images

Not all heroes wear capes.

Kayla Denney took over the animal shelter in Taft, Texas last November. At the time, the shelter was in disrepair and failing to find homes for its animals, leading to a 100% kill rate, according to KZTV. In the year since Denney took over, that rate has dropped to 0%, with 565 dogs and cats finding homes.

Thanks to her lifesaving changes, Denney has been awarded Petco’s 2019 National “Unsung Hero” Award.

“There are thousands of applicants, I didn’t know I was nominated,” Denney told KZTV. “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.”

Denney’s work in Taft quickly gained attention, because just four months into the job, she was among the top five contenders for the Petco award. For that she was awarded $10,000. After winning first place in the contest, she will be awarded an additional $25,000.

Denney told KZTV that the money will be reinvested into the animal shelter.

“It’s an older shelter and its run down,” said Denney. “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.”

Just to clarify, Denney was referring to a type of door that raises and lowers when an animal enters or exits, not an actual guillotine.

Denney also talked about her plans for the future of the animal shelter.

“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,” she told KZTV.

While Denney has been working to save the lives of hundreds of animals, Congress has been working to make animal cruelty a federal crime. While animal cruelty is deserving of harsh punishment, it is unclear just how much authority the feds have over the crime.

Last month, the House of Representatives passed a bill that would make animal cruelty a federal crime, with exemptions for those who hunt, trap, and fish. On Tuesday, the Senate unanimously passed its own version of the bill, known as the Preventing Animal Cruelty and Torture Act. The bill increases the penalties for those purposefully hurt animals, including fines and up to seven years in prison.

As The New York Times reported, the House bill “was meant to bolster a law signed in 2010 by President Barack Obama, which banned videos showing animal abuse.” At the time, the bill did not make the videos a federal crime. That has changed under the new legislation, which now goes to President Donald Trump to sign into law.

It is unlikely that Trump would fail to sign the law.

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