donation to animal shelter

For 13-year-old Isabella Hensley, of Tullahoma, providing food and warmth for the dogs at the Tullahoma Animal Shelter was more important than receiving a gift for Christmas – or any other time. Here, Isabella plays with William, a 10-month-old Boxer/Great Dane mix on Tuesday. William is neutered and up to date on all his shots.

Girl’s donations keep dogs fed and warm

For 13-year-old Isabella Hensley, of Tullahoma, providing food and warmth for the dogs at the animal shelter was more important than receiving a gift for Christmas – or any other time.

Isabella has a special place in her heart for animals, and she started making donations and volunteering at the Tullahoma Animal Shelter when she was 10.

“For my 10th birthday party, instead of getting presents, I asked for animal shelter donations,” Isabella said.

She was very excited when guests brought food and other needed items for the animals.

“And I brought those to the animal shelter,” Isabella said.

In December, she said, “I wanted to do that again.”

So she did. She had been saving her money since March, and right before Christmas, she decided to use all of it to buy food and treats for the dogs at the shelter.

“I bought everything in December,” Isabella said. “We went to Kroger and I bought a few bags of dog food and a bunch of treats.”

Before completing the Christmas shopping for her four-legged friends, Isabella asked officials with Tullahoma Animal Control how she could be most helpful and what the most urgent needs were.

The employees at the animal shelter told her there was a need for yellow straw, which was used to keep the animals warm.

“I went to American Mulch and Landscaping in Tullahoma, and I bought four or five bales of yellow straw,” Isabell said. “And the man [working there] gave me a discount, and he delivered the straw for free.

“I just have love for animals and I thought, if they needed anything, I can go and get it.”

Isabella also enjoys volunteering at the shelter.

“We also come to play with the dogs,” Isabella said. “We get them out and walk them.”

Isabella’s mother, Julie Ann Hensley, said it makes her happy to know Isabella prefers to buy something for the animals instead for spending the money on herself.

“I am really pleased with her,” Hensley said. “It touches my heart that she has a heart for others, and especially for dogs. She is willing to sacrifice and save and give. And that’s what’s important to her. In today’s society [caring for animals] can sometimes get overlooked or we can get a little self-involved. I am really pleased her focus is on those who need.”

In December, it was cold and it was a good time to give, added Hensley.

“Isabella had saved her money for a long time, and she told me she had saved enough and wanted to go shopping, but she wanted to go to the animal shelter first and talk to them about what they really needed,” Hensley said. “They told us a lot of people donate blankets, but the blankets get wet and freeze.”

That’s why they purchased yellow straw instead.

Isabella’s younger sister, Anna, was also excited to participate.

“I really liked it because I like dogs too,” Anna said. “I gave Isabella some money, so she could help the dogs.”

Animal Control Officer Jacob Swick expressed gratitude to Isabella and all other supporters of the shelter.

“It’s a special kind of person to do that, especially at her age – not wanting a PlayStation but to help others – it’s really a selfless act and we need more people like that,” Swick said.

All the food and medical supplies for the shelter come from donations, he added. Volunteers, who walk and play with the dogs are also appreciated. 

The adoption fee is $35 and includes a free spay/neuter.

The Tullahoma shelter is located at 942 Maplewood Ave.

For more information, call 931-454-9580.

Elena Cawley can be reached via email at