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The lawyer who founded River City Bulldog Rescue did it for her love of the breed

Posted at 3:45 PM, Mar 26, 2015
and last updated 2015-03-27 08:55:26-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- In an office of one, lawyer Elisabeth Custalow depends on every ounce of legal assistance even from her drooling law clerk, Tank. Custalow dedicates her life to helping four-legged clients. She advocates for animal rights and fights cruelty across Virginia.

"I’ve always had a heart for animals. All species," Custalow said. "I’ve just wanted to always help them."

The former prosecutor shunned making big bucks in a firm in order to make a difference.

"As long as I have enough to take care of me and take care of my dogs I’m really satisfied," Custalow said.

Custalow founded River City Bulldog Rescue which is a breed of canine near and dear to her heart.

Elisabeth Custalow plays with Tank.

Elisabeth Custalow plays with Tank.

"They have a lot of quirks. Lot of personality and they are loving just like all dogs," Custalow said.

In just the last 18 months, Elisabeth has spent her own money to help save dozens of these dogs.

"If human beings bring these animals into the world I think we have a responsibility as humans to take care of them and to make sure we do right by them," Custalow said. "No one makes you to have an animal. There is no law requiring you to have a dog. People make that choice to have a dog."

Custalow handles late-night calls from shelters, juggles medical needs and raises money all for the well-being of the burly breed.

"They don’t really ask a lot from us. All they really ask is what they need to get by and not to be harmed," Custalow said. "That is all they really ask."

Sean Rapoza, who lives in Richmond, has always had a soft-spot for English Bulldogs.

"They’re really loyal. They’re great with people. They’re extremely social," Rapoza said.

Sean’s pooch had a rough first three years in Chesapeake until Elisabeth stepped in a few weeks ago.

“I’m glad someone out there is caring for these guys like these because otherwise dogs like Bella might be abandoned," Rapoza said.

Bella, who needs surgery for a bum knee, may have found her forever home and best friend in Sean. Elisabeth said success stories like Bella are what fuel her passion to save the stubborn, slobbering bundles of joy.

"It is incredibly gratifying. I’m really living my dream job," she said.

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Greg McQuade and CBS 6 News are featuring local heroes in a weekly “Heroes Among Us” segment. Watch Greg’s reports Thursdays on CBS News at 6 or here on WTVR.com. If you would like to nominate someone to be featured on “Heroes Among Us,” click here to email heroes@wtvr.com.