Fate Guides Leasure’s Animal Rescue Work

What started as an effort to keep a stray cat from being euthanized turned into a way of life for Michael Leasure.        

“My wife and I have rescued more than 25 dogs and cats over the years,” said Leasure, associate director of energy conservation for Facilities. “Our strategy is to rescue animals that fall in our path, meaning that we don’t seek them out.”

It all started in 2001 when Leasure and his future wife found two wild kittens and their mother. The couple took the cats to the Humane Society only to learn that the mother would likely be euthanized — and Leasure wasn’t willing to accept that answer.

“I told my wife Renee that I was going to tame that wild cat,” he said. “We had some tough times initially, but now the cat, Mona Lisa, loves me to death.”

Although the cost to rescue an animal can be anywhere between $250-600, Leasure takes it in stride.

The couple does not charge a fee for people to adopt the animals. Before they will give the animal to a new owner, the two require the prospective owner to visit their home (with any pets), and they will visit the person’s home.

“And we have said ‘no’ to people,” Leasure said, which is part of the reason why he and his wife have six permanent pets — all of which were originally rescue animals.

Recently, The Whistle had an opportunity to learn more about Leasure and his time at Georgia Tech.

What did you want to be when you were a child?         
I remember the moment in high school when I realized that I wanted to be an
engineer. I was sitting in a McDonald’s parking lot, where I was working at the time, and my buddy asked me what I wanted to do with my life. He said he was going to be an engineer like his father, and I had an a-ha moment. I always enjoyed taking things apart and putting them back together, so being an engineer sounded like a good fit for me, too.

How did you get to Tech?     
I worked for Pillsbury in Tennessee for many years doing project engineering. But I wasn’t feeling challenged anymore. So I moved to Atlanta to be closer to my sister and took another job for a company that I later learned was going under. I soon found myself interviewing for a job at Tech as an infrastructure manager in Facilities. And 14 years and two promotions later, here I am.

What is something that you’d like for people to know about your job?   
These days, most of my time is spent overseeing a staff that includes 15 engineers. My job is to keep everyone on track and to coach people on how to solve problems related to keeping energy costs down. I wish people realized that although there are things to improve about energy conservation in the buildings on campus, we’ve come a long way. For example, 20 years ago the administration started updating the central chiller plant (the source of most air conditioning on campus). We’ve been working on this behind the scenes for a long time and have made some great progress.

What is most satisfying about your work?
I still get to create and fix things. For example, the College of Computing had a lecture hall that flooded every time it rained. For more than 10 years, many people tried to fix it — but my team finally did.

Where is your favorite place on campus?
There’s a bench in front of the Ferst Center that is next to a statue of former dean George C. Griffin. I really like this spot because it’s shady and usually cool.

What is the best piece of advice you’ve ever heard?
President Reagan used to have something on his desk that said, “There’s no limit to what you can do if you don’t care who gets the credit.”

Where is your favorite place to have lunch?
Firehouse Subs — they have the best meatball sub.  

Tell us something about yourself that others might not know.
I had such severe dyslexia that by the fourth grade I still could not read. Thankfully, my parents recognized the problem and got me help. Now, I will soon graduate with a Master of Science in Systems Engineering from Southern Polytechnic State University.

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