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Changing Perceptions in the Tar Heel State

Shelter director battles idea that pets are disposable

  • Leigh Casaus, director of the Randolph County Animal Shelter in North Carolina, says her proudest accomplishment is having opened her shelter to working more with rescue groups so that more animals’ lives can be saved. Caleb Scott

In central North Carolina, the insurance business’ loss has been the animals’ gain.

Leigh Casaus says she grew up “out in the country” among cats, dogs, horses, and pigs (“You name it, I had it”) and developed a fondness for animals.

About a decade ago, when Casaus’s four children were all in middle or high school, she decided she was ready for a career. She got hired as an attendant at the Randolph County Animal Shelter, and after about a year was promoted to animal control officer—a seemingly ideal job for someone who says she loves moving around and being outdoors.

But after four years as an ACO, Casaus needed a break. “I was trying to rescue every animal that came down the line,” she says, “and honestly I was really burnt out.”

She took a job selling insurance, but recalls that one day after she tried to close a deal, her district manager pulled her aside and said, “You know, you really need to go back into the animal sheltering business, because that’s all you talked about.”

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