When Ed Jamison arrived at Dallas Animal Services a little over three years ago, he found an operation with a dismal history at best. From a cat trapped in the wall starving to death over days to the fatal attack of Antoinette Brown by a group of loose dogs in May 2016, DAS made more headlines for bad news than good. Changes were needed to stop the packs of dogs freely roaming South Dallas neighborhoods and to reduce the number of animals killed daily at the DAS.
An all-out effort was made not just to research the animal issues and come up with solutions, but to put them into action. One was to move the DAS from the Code Compliance Department to become its own department. Another was the hiring Ed, who had been Chief Animal Control Officer in Cleveland.
Naysayers were skeptical. Perhaps it was because there had been three or four others holding the leadership roles in the past decade. But just maybe this time with the right support, this Ed would turn things around.
And what do you know? He did. Staff morale was transformed; the image of the shelter being a last stand for animal rejects became a place to find a new best friend; social media and live-streaming of adoptable pooches became eye candy; partnerships with like-minded organizations in the country were made; negligent pet owners were brought to task and to court; a new DAS website was created promoting it services, opportunities and the launch of its BeDallas90 campaign; and the staggering number of animals being euthanized dropped dramatically.
From October 2019 to September 2020, with the pandemic taking place, DAS accomplished a major goal of having more than 90% live releases, even with online-only adoptions. During that year 22,812 dogs and cats were taken in by DAS; 10,234 were adopted; 6,500 were returned home; 2,143 pets were fostered; 3,979 pets were transferred; and 9,031 in-house surgeries were performed.
As of Monday, the year-to-date live release rate was 89% for dogs and cats. In-house were 165 dogs and 28 cats.
During his time at DAS, Ed worked with more than 40 municipal shelters and rescue groups including the no-kill nonprofit Operation Kindness. So, it was no surprise that when Operation Kindness CEO Bob Catalani announced his plans for retirement, Ed was the man that Operation Kindness wanted — and they got him. Starting Monday, March 29, he will become Operation Kindness’s CEO.
According to Ed, “I’ve never been more honored to partner with Operation Kindness during my time at Dallas Animal Services, and the ability to join the lifesaving work as CEO is a milestone in my passion for animal wellness. To be able to follow in the footsteps of Bob Catalani and the rest of the staff, I’m excited to be a part of a dedicated team to achieve all that we can to support dogs and cats in every way they need.”
With Ed’s tenure at DAS coming to an end, much to the chagrin of his admirers and DAS adoptees and adopters, the question that lingers in the minds of animal-lovers is, “Can the powers-that-be find a person who can continue the success story that Ed has created?” Let’s hope so.
* Photo courtesy of Dallas Animal Services