PANORA, Iowa -- A no-kill animal shelter in Guthrie County received a big donation from a little supporter.
10-year-old Payton Leonard of Waukee spent the last six months raising money for Panora P.E.T.S. She surprised the rescue group with a check for $555 that she accumulated one nickel at a time.
"I didn't think it would be that much until I saw the cashier's checks and I got really excited," said Leonard.
She collected more than 11,000 cans to help the shelter where her dog, Teddy, came from. The Leonard family adopted the stray pup a few years ago.
"I thought, Panora P.E.T.S because that's where I got my dog and I wanted to help all those other animals there," explained the soon-to-be 5th grader.
"We had no idea that Payton was doing this," said Kristine Jorgensen, the founder and director of the only pet rescue in Guthrie County.
The volunteers have a full-time job caring for 175 cats. The shelter on Main Street in Panora will put the donation to good use. The money will help fund its spay and neuter program to reduce the number of homeless and stray cats in the community.
"I wish we were able to help more than we do, but with limited volunteers and limited funds, there's only so much that we can do," said Jorgensen.
Leonard is taking a break from can collecting, but says she might begin again in the fall.
Panora P.E.T.S keeps all of the dogs and most of the cats at the shelter in foster homes.