Frog Feature: Student helps animals, establishes LEAPS location

Kelsey Keys has always been an animal lover. She wanted to bring that passion with her to college as a way to feel comfortable and to feel home, she said. When she learned about Richland Hills Animal Services, she knew it would be a good opportunity for her. This spring, Keys helped establish Richland Hills Animal Services as a TCU LEAPS location.

Q: How did you first get involved with animal shelters?

A: Well, I’ve been rescuing animals since I was a little kid, starting with birds, and moving on to a cow and some others. I’ve always kind of been involved in it. I worked in a vet’s office, and we would have people bring in strays that were really sick, and I would help take care of them and eventually help get them rescued out. When I came to TCU, I really just wanted something to make me feel comfortable and at home, so I just found an animal shelter, and I’ve been doing that for like a year-and-a-half.

Q: What do you do there?

A: I’m really the only volunteer, except for these two older women who come in on Sundays and clean and help out with that while we’re closed. So when I’m there, since I’ve had vet training, I’ll help hold dogs for things like getting heartworm tests. Unfortunately, when they have to be euthanized, I’ll have to help with that, too. But on a regular day, I just play with them and train them and try to socialize them and just get them ready to be adopted. It’s so much fun.

Q: What kind of pets have you had yourself?

A: I’ve had everything under the sun. I’ve had dogs, cats, birds, fish, a horse — just about anything I find, like the first animal I rescued was a mockingbird, and I took care of it when it fell out of its nest. I rehabilitated it and then set it free, and then it just lived by my house all the time. And I could walk outside, and it would be there. It’s really cool to see that — with dogs or cats you really get to see how rewarding it is — but whenever it’s an animal that’s not domesticated at all, and even that animal shows its appreciation. Ever since then, I’ve just been crazy about it, and I hope to do it forever.

Q: What advice would you give to students who want to get involved in this?

A: I’d say do it, definitely give it a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed. The first time that I volunteered at the shelter, a hoarder came in, and she had like nine cats that were all sick. And I had to help euthanize them because they weren’t able to be adopted out, and they were going to die anyway; so it was really sad and really hard on me. But for some reason, I came back after that, even though I was like, “I can never do this again.” But I came back and gave it another shot, and it’s just been the greatest thing in the world. It’s the best part of my week. Animals — you just can’t really explain how appreciative they are, and how animals do something emotionally to people, to where they’ll make you happy if you’re sad.

To sign up for LEAPS, visit
To volunteer with Richland Hills Animal Services, email [email protected] or call 817-314-3962.