KIRBY, Texas -

A 17-year-old volunteer at the Kirby Animal Shelter has entered a national contest sponsored by Purina One in hopes of winning $10,000 for the shelter.

Unlike many young men his age, Estefan Centeno spends most of his time volunteering on behalf of homeless pets at the Kirby Animal Shelter.

“Stefan has been a godsend for us,” said Christie Banduch, the town’s only animal control officer. “He’s my volunteer kennel manager.”

The teen cleans out kennels and handle adoptions.

Centeno said his short essay about Banduch’s devotion is now among the top five finalists out of 500 entries.

“She started working for the city in June of last year with a goal, a smile and a can-do attitude,” Centeno wrote.

Centeno said he also described how Banduch’s efforts have saved 800 lives.

Banduch said not a single dog or cat has been euthanized to make room for others. She said its current no-kill status has been made possible through adoptions and with the help of rescue groups.

Centeno said he has used his social media savvy to create Facebook and Twitter pages for the Kirby Animal Shelter.

He said the more people who vote, the better their chances of winning.

“I would love to put air conditioning and heating out in our dog kennel, “ Banduch said, if they get the $10,000 prize.

They said it also would mean a free one-year supply of badly needed dog food.  

The deadline to vote, also on the contest sponsored by Purina One, is noon Pacific time, 2 p.m. Texas time, on Monday.

As for Centeno, it’s no surprise that he wants to become a veterinarian someday.

Centeno said, “I don’t know how long it’s going to take, but that’s my goal and it’s been my goal since I was seven years old.”

For a list of recent stories Jessie Degollado has done, click here.