Animal Hero of the Month: Kaley Mitchell

A young woman decided to turn a tragedy into a legacy. After losing her cherished rescue dog unexpectedly, she set out on a mission to help other animals.


The March 2015 winner of our Animal Hero of the Month award is Kaley Mitchell of Kaley Mitchell Animal Rescue in Conyers, Georgia.

Kaley saved a puppy who had been left in a Dumpster. The pair became inseparable until a short time later when Dempsey tragically died in an accident. Kaley couldn’t repair the hole left in her heart, so she turned to animal rescue to help other animals like her beloved pup.

She started the rescue and hopes to achieve nonprofit status. She also has applied to attend veterinary college even as she continues to rescue, rehabilitate and adopt out needy animals.

The Nomination

Kaley’s nomination was sent in by Sarah Gambino:

“Kaley is an amazing young woman who dedicates her life to helping animals that are stray, forgotten, lost or left behind. She fosters them, spending her own money feeding them and taking care of their veterinary needs. She gets them fixed up and then searches for the perfect person in her vast network to adopt them into a forever home.

She only asks for the money she’s spent at the vet as their ‘adoption fee’ and goes on to the next ones in her tireless journey to make the world a better place. Just a quick look at her Facebook page shows how many little hearts she touches and how many countless animals she’s saved.”


Here’s what all of our award winners get:

  • A feature article like this one
  • Social media mentions across all of our platforms
  • A permanent spot on our Wall of Heroes
  • Our custom, engraved gold-tone paw print medal with ribbon shipped to the winner
  • $50 donation (or cash award) from Petful

About Kaley’s Organization

Kaley’s animal rescue is a home-based operation while she works toward securing nonprofit status. She takes in animals who are “usually strays that were never claimed, pets that have been given up by their families or animals that have clearly been abandoned” she says.

Some animals are in her care, and she also promotes animals in the care of others in hopes of finding them a permanent home.

Kaley also offers advice and help with animal services to people caring for stray animals. She advocates for spay and neuter and helps people find affordable options in their area.

There is also help for people with pregnant animals who may be overwhelmed. Kaley will help get the mother spayed and the babies into a facility where they can be treated, vaccinated and spayed/neutered.

As she states on her rescue page: “With the weather warming up, more puppies and kittens will surely be brought into the world. We can both prevent some and help the ones that need it.”

Q&A With Kaley Mitchell

1. What got you started helping animals?

Ever since I was little I was always bringing wild animals home that needed help. A squirrel with a cut leg, a kitten with a hurt tail and even a turtle with a fish hook stuck in its mouth all came home with me.

2. What’s your earliest childhood memory that is animal-related?

The first word out of my mouth was “dog.” However, my first memory of animals was playing with my neighbor’s 2 Jack Russell puppies, Bailey and Bandit. The love affair with dogs from there was imminent.

Kaley makes sure her pets have fun and exhibit great temperaments.
Kaley makes sure her pets have fun and develop great temperaments.

3. How old were you when you got your first animal?

Buddy was brought to me by Santa on Christmas when I was 10.

4. What is your favorite animal?

Dogs have always been my favorite animal, with Jack Russells being my favorite breed. However, I love any mammal. Other animals are fascinating, of course — but anything with fur is a love of mine.

5. Tell us about the one animal you will never forget.

I took in a dog I think about almost every day. She was a 2-year-old Yorkie/chihuahua mix who had spent her short life having puppies for a backyard breeder out in a cedar-filled pen. Someone had cropped her ears and tail; she had eye infections, cherry eye and a massive skin infection that caused her to be greasy and smell, hence her given name, Stinky.

I renamed her Sydney and spent almost 3 months curing all her infections and getting her eyes fixed. She eventually found a home overseas in France, thanks to USA Dogs Bless You. I still get to see pictures of her all the time with her new mom. It was definitely one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had. I was able to 100 percent change her life for the better.

6. What are the least and highest amounts of pets you have had at one time?

The least I have ever had was before I started spending all my free time rescuing — and that would be 1 dog. However, several months ago, my home was open to my 3 dogs, 1 rescue dog, 2 spaniels I was dog-sitting for a friend, a mother dog and her eight newborn puppies I had just taken off the streets. So, 15 was the most!

7. If your pets could talk, what would they say?

One of my dogs would certainly curse like a sailor. She would tell me that she and I need to spend more time throwing the Frisbee and hiking.

Another would probably sound like Scooby Doo, scared of everything except food and the leash.

The oldest would like sit around and talk about the “good old days” when he was able to walk down the hallway without slipping on the hardwood floor.

8. If you could solve 1 problem facing animals, what would it be?

Pet overpopulation as well as backyard breeding. These issues go hand in hand and are out of control in this country, especially in the Southeast where I live. Hundreds of pit bulls are euthanized each day, and yet around every corner you see people selling puppies for hundreds of dollars trying to make a quick buck. It has to stop, and I wish I could be the one to do it.

9. If you could be reincarnated as any animal, which would you choose and why?

My first thought was a dog, of course, but then I paused.

How do I know I could be born as one of the lucky dogs in a great home? What if I was born into the world of fighting, puppy mill breeding or just chained out in a backyard and ignored?

If I were to be reincarnated, I would want to come back as a human — but this time with unlimited time and resources so I could devote my entire to rescuing and saving homeless pets.

10. If the rainbow bridge exists, which pet would you most like to see waiting for you on the other side?

My little Dempsey. Dempsey was found in a Dumpster when she was just a few weeks old and only weighed 8 ounces. For 2 years she was my little sidekick who went everywhere with me. I snuck her into the movie theater, college classes and stores. She and I went to a birthday party one day, and the deck collapsed as we gathered around the cake. Dempsey died, and it ripped my heart out.

A few weeks later, I started getting fully into rescue. I was so glad for the time I had spent with Dempsey, even though it was short. I knew that if I could help someone find a dog they loved as much as I loved Dempsey, then it would all be worthwhile.

Rescuing fills the hole that was left in my heart after Dempsey died. If there was one animal I hope is waiting for me at the bridge, I hope it is her.

I would pick her up and kiss and hug her, and then tell her about all the wonderful animals who have been given homes just because she came into my life.


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Nominate next month’s hero. If you would like to nominate someone to be Petful’s next Animal Hero of the Month, nomination details are available here. If you or your company is interested in sponsoring our monthly award or adding prizes, contact us at [email protected]

Kristine Lacoste

View posts by Kristine Lacoste
Kristine Lacoste, editor in chief of Petful, is an author, poet and pet lover from Louisiana. She is the author of an award-nominated book, One Unforgettable Journey, and was host of a weekly pet news segment on the National K-9 Academy Radio Show. She was the New Orleans coordinator for Dogs on Deployment, a nonprofit that helps military members and their pets, for 3 years. She is also employed as chief operating officer for a large mental health practice in Louisiana. Kristine has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, a bachelor’s degree in English and a Master of Business Administration degree.

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