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Woman who took animal shelter kill rate from 100% to 0% wins $35,000 'Unsung Hero' award

Woman who took animal shelter kill rate from 100% to 0% wins $35,000 'Unsung Hero' award

When Kayla Denney took over the animal shelter in Taft, Texas five months ago, it was—in her words—a "hot mess." The rudimentary building had no electricity, a lone hose for cleaning out kennels, and very limited supplies for taking care of the animals. What they did have was "blue juice"—the chemical injection used to euthanize animals. Every Wednesday was "kill day"—the sad solution to the problem of animals with nowhere to go and no one to care for them properly.

"The animals looked sad. The building looked sad," city manager, Denise Hitt said in a video. "So I decided we were going to make a change." She and Taft police chief John Cornish met with Kayla Denney, and came up with a plan to transform the facility into a no-kill shelter.


RELATED: Pets are becoming social media managers to inspire pet lovers to adopt.

Denney, who has dedicated her life to saving animals, initiated a miraculous turnaround for the dogs and cats of Taft, a town of about 3,000 people. She immediately connected with anyone she knew who fostered or rescued animals. She organized donation drives to get supplies and started a Facebook page to spread the word about animals needing homes. Now, she organizes a team of volunteers, and even makes house calls to check in on folks who have taken in dogs or cats to see if they need anything.

Her hard work has paid off quickly. Since she came on five months ago, no animals at the shelter have been euthanized.

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

Unbeknownst to her, someone nominated Denney for a Petco Foundation Unsung Heroes Award. She was one of five finalists out of thousands of nominees who were awarded $10,000 each in February. And on November 14, she will be awarded the top prize, which comes with additional $25,000, at the Petco Foundation Lifesaving Impact Awards.

Denney says the money will help improve conditions at the shelter for the animals she serves.

"It's an older shelter and its run down," Denney told KZTV. "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. 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."

RELATED: Football player locked himself in a hot car to show what it's like for dogs

"Every dog deserves a chance, whether it's in my shelter or not," she says.

Watch the inspiring story of how Denney turned Taft's animals shelter around here:

Nature

Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave that’s been closed for 70 years

You can only access the cave from the basement of the home and it’s open for business.

This Pennsylvania home is the entrance to a cave.

Have you ever seen something in a movie or online and thought, "That's totally fake," only to find out it's absolutely a real thing? That's sort of how this house in Pennsylvania comes across. It just seems too fantastical to be real, and yet somehow it actually exists.

The home sits between Greencastle and Mercersburg, Pennsylvania, and houses a pretty unique public secret. There's a cave in the basement. Not a man cave or a basement that makes you feel like you're in a cave, but an actual cave that you can't get to unless you go through the house.

Turns out the cave was discovered in the 1830s on the land of John Coffey, according to Uncovering PA, but the story of how it was found is unclear. People would climb down into the cave to explore occasionally until the land was leased about 100 years later and a small structure was built over the cave opening.

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via Pexels

A couple celebrates while packing their home.

One of the topics that we like to highlight on Upworthy is people who are redefining what it means to be in a relationship. Recently, we’ve shared the stories of platonic life partners, moms who work together as part of a “mommune” and a polyamorous family with four equally-committed parents.

A growing number of people are reevaluating traditional relationships and entering lifestyles that work for them instead of trying to fit into preexisting roles. It makes sense because the more lifestyle options that are available, the greater chance we have to be happy.

A recent trend in unconventional relationships is married couples "living apart together," or LATs as they are known among mental health professionals.

Actress Helena Bonham Carter and director Tim Burton, actress Gwyneth Paltrow and producer Brad Falchuk, and photographer Annie Leibovitz and activist Susan Sontag are all high-profile couples who’ve embraced the LAT lifestyle.

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Family

Professional tidier Marie Kondo says she's 'kind of given up' after having three kids

Hearing Kondo say, 'My home is messy,' is sparking joy for moms everywhere.

Marie Kondo playing with her daughters.

Marie Kondo's book, "The Life-Changing Art of Tidying Up," has repeatedly made huge waves around the world since it came out in 2010. From eliminating anything that didn't "spark joy" from your house to folding clothes into tiny rectangles and storing them vertically, the KonMari method of maintaining an organized home hit the mark for millions of people. The success of her book even led to two Netflix series.

It also sparked backlash from parents who insisted that keeping a tidy home with children was not so simple. It's one thing to get rid of an old sweater that no longer brings you joy. It's entirely another to toss an old, empty cereal box that sparks zero joy for you, but that your 2-year-old is inexplicably attached to.

To be fair, Kondo never forced her way into anyone's home and made them organize it her way. But also to be fair, she didn't have kids when she wrote her best-selling book on keeping a tidy home. The reality is that keeping a home organized and tidy with children living in it is a whole other ballgame, as Kondo has discovered now that she has three kids of her own.

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Pop Culture

YouTube star MrBeast sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery to help them see again

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up."

YouTube star sponsors 1,000 people's cataract surgery

Blindness touches people's lives around the world and YouTube star Jimmy Donaldson, more popularly known as MrBeast, is trying to do something about it. Donaldson made it his mission to help 1,000 people regain their eyesight with the help of Dr. Jeff Levenson, an ophthalmologist and surgeon in Jacksonville, Florida.

Levenson has been operating a program called "Gift of Sight" for over 20 years. The program provides free cataract surgery to uninsured people who are legally blind for free, so long as they meet certain criteria. Levenson had never heard of Donaldson, and he almost hung up on him when the YouTube star called to ask about a partnership.

"I had never heard of MrBeast so I almost hung up. But gratefully did not hang up," Levenson told CNN.

After figuring out that Donaldson was indeed a real person who wanted to help others, the duo called around the Jacksonville area to determine the people who needed help the most. They got their list of clients from free clinics and homeless shelters, which covered the United States portion of the surgeries.

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A mom makes sensory sand by putting Cheerios in a blender.

A parenting influencer who goes by the name @ellethevirgo on TikTok has shared a brilliant hack that can turn a simple box of Cheerios into a fun sensory sand experience. The great part is that the sand is edible, so you don’t have to worry if your child puts some in their mouth, which they will inevitably do.

The recipe for Cheerios sensory sand is pretty simple:

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Gaël Monfils makes tennis a must-see.

Tennis isn't always the most entertaining sport to watch, especially if you're not particularly interested in seeing a ball get slapped across a net at 1,000,000 mph approximately 17,000 times. You could probably get whiplash or eye strain if you focused too hard on it. While some people love the sport, others need a little more than grunts and sneaker sounds to capture their attention.

If you're in the group of people who need to be entertained, look no further than Gaël Monfils, a professional French tennis player that has earned the nickname, "The Entertainer." Monfils turned pro in 2004 and has multiple championship matches under his belt, and yet he still takes the time to be...extra while playing.

In a compilation video uploaded to TikTok, we see the 36-year-old tennis player dancing after hitting the ball across the net just out of his opponent's reach. But of course, he also doesn't hit the ball like your average player, either. In one part of the video, Monfils jumps up extremely high and bicycle kicks as he hits the ball with his tongue hanging out of his mouth.

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