Fueled by Compassion
“I found my childhood dog tied to a tree at a park,” says Casey Connors, V15, (he/him) explaining when he developed his passion for animals. “She was skinny and ugly but the sweetest girl. I took her home, convinced my mom to keep her, and we had her for 12 wonderful years. At the end of her life, I had an experience with our local veterinarian that cemented my desire to become a compassionate vet. I saw what an important moment it was for me and wanted to give that to others.”
Connors serves as medical director of the Community Medicine Department at the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) in Los Angeles. Their work centers around providing high quality and high volume spay/neuter and primary care to underserved local populations.
“They have neither the access nor the resources to provide care for their pets,” Connors explains. He also oversees the ASPCA’s Los Angeles Foster Program, a kitten intake intervention program which has diverted more than 9,500 kittens from the shelters and into foster homes and eventually adoptive homes.
What I am most proud of is helping not just individual animals, but entire communities and their animals by providing the kind of care they deserve, he says. We educate, provide preventative and sick care and spay/neuter options to animals who most commonly have never seen a vet before and that is so rewarding.
A native of Lakewood, located 20 miles south of L.A., Connors grew up less than two miles from where he lives now. He attended UCLA and found Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine through coworkers. “I was working with a few alumni and former professors from Cummings School at the time and they raved about it. I also wanted to see a new part of the country. Coming out for my interview in December was a shock due to the weather, but I loved the school and the programs it offered.”
During his first year on campus, Connors met Dr. Greg Wolfus, V98 [director of the School’s Tufts at Tech Community Veterinary Clinic], who quickly became his mentor.“I spent all of my free time and every elective rotation I could there,” he explains.
“We had great conversations centered around the idea that every animal deserves care. I learned practical medicine, decision making, and the importance of communication and understanding each person that walked through the door. Our friendship has strengthened as each of us has continued in our work to help people and animals.”
Prior to his 2017 appointment as a community medicine veterinarian with the ASPCA, Connors worked full-time in private practice in addition to part-time work in shelter medicine. “I worked at small practices and loved the daily problem-solving and relationship building with clients,” he shares. “The pull of making an impact on the community level kept me looking for non-profit work and the ASPCA was developing a strong community medicine program in Los Angeles that I couldn't resist.”
Connors is excited about the expansion plans for the ASPCA, which is in the planning process and hopes to build two new community veterinary clinics in Los Angeles over the next two years.
“These new clinics will allow us to significantly increase our capacity and provide a wider range of veterinary care to areas of Los Angeles that need it,” he says. “We hope to provide thousands more families with spay/neuter options and high-quality care.”