July 7, 2011


Remember the difference between a boss and a leader; 
a boss says "Go!" - a leader says "Let's go!"  
~E.M. Kelly


The following article is taken from the October 2010 edition of the  Charlottesville Daily Progress. It is about the Director of the Charlottesville-Albermarle SPCA, Susanne Kogut. 

We have had the pleasure of meeting with Susanne several times, and appreciate her willingness to share information about what has worked and what has not worked in their transition and ongoing dedication to a No Kill community.

I imagine someone categorized as a "woman we love" has to be smart, logical, dedicated, and kind. After spending a few minutes with Susanne, you see that she fits the bill.  Thank you, Susanne, for being an inspiration to the rest of us. You've shown us that a yes we can, hands on approach works, and most importantly... it can be so rewarding.


Women We Love: Susanne Kogut

Susanne Kogut wakes up every morning and heads to work at the Charlottesville-Albemarle SPCA to become a hero for those unable to speak for themselves. She doesn’t wear a superhero costume (I don’t believe), but for the dogs, cats and other animals at the no-kill shelter she certainly is one nonetheless. Kogut is the executive director of the CASPCA, and also mother to five dogs and a foster mom to more than a hundred different animals “at different times, of course.”


Kogut, a former lawyer, notes her biggest pet peeve is those who “back seat drive or Monday morning quarterback—people who spend all their time telling other people what they should do when they are not in the game. We need more people in the game.”
That last fact is part of what influenced her to do what she does.

 “When I was still trying to decide what to do with the ‘second half’ of my life, and whining about how overwhelming it was,” Kogut says, “a tenacious, unassuming woman, Natalie Owens, who ran an animal sanctuary in New Mexico, just looked at me and said, ‘You do not have the luxury to be overwhelmed—the animals need your help now.’ She sort of gave the kick in the pants that I needed.”

But, her late dog, Murphy, had a role in pushing Kogut toward animal welfare, too.
“It was after he passed away, when I began looking for another dog, that I became aware of the millions of animals there were being euthanized in animal shelters across the country,” she says. “It was then that I decided that, one day, I wanted to apply my professional experience as a lawyer and business manager to help animals.”

And she has done just that. Under her direction CASPCA quickly became a no-kill shelter and has since become a national model, as well as a model for other countries, in how to operate an animal shelter in a way that saves lives. CASPCA has seen a 600 percent increase in the number of fostered animals and a 70 percent decrease in the euthanasia rate, in less than two years.

“I find it very rewarding to be able to inspire others to take a new approach to running an animal non-profit, and to help them save more animals,” Kogut notes. “It is an incredibly satisfying experience to be able to help others save animal lives in their communities, and to hopefully one day be a small part of ending the needless euthanasia of all animals everywhere.”

Financials, however, offer some of the biggest challenges CASPCA faces. She says, though, the group meets them head-on.

“Because we are fairly successful in saving lives and we have a new building there can be the perception that we do not need additional funding,” Kogut says. “But there is so much more to do—like spaying and neutering more cats to reduce the number of kittens that come in to our SPCA every year, changing state laws regarding how we address feral cats and other animal issues, and creating our organization as a training ground for others. Over the last couple years, we have had to reduce expenses due to the economic environment but yet we need to continue to move forward and take our organization to the next level.”

Kogut says someone looking from the outside in might not see her life as balanced, but “balance is in the eyes of the beholder. If you love what you do, why spend all of your time doing something, for the sake of balance? If I worked nine-to-five every day, animals would suffer and that is hardly a balance I can accept.”

She does rely on her faith, though, that she is “exactly where God wants me to be, doing exactly what I am supposed to be doing at this point in time—for me that is balance.”

Kogut encourages more business women to consider a role in animal welfare.
“Now more than ever we need smart, determined business women to take over and lead animal organizations,” she says. “As Natalie Owens said to me—the animals need your help now. The groundwork as been laid, but we need leaders willing to take over organizations from the tired leaders that continue with failed practices that result in animals being euthanized.

“What you give up in your paycheck, you will make back in satisfaction from the joy of saving animals.”


Taken from the Daily Progress

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