Center’s Jamie McAloon Lampman has spent a life helping animals
Esme the pitbull is chewing on toys in Jamie McAloon Lampman’s office at McKamey Animal Center. Lampman, who became executive director of the center last February, is spending socializing time with Esme, who was rescued from a breeding/fighting operation somewhere in Chattanooga. Despite the pitbull’s sad past, she’s lively and loving, licking a visitor’s hand and asking to be petted.
Lampman was appointed McKamey’s executive director after a national search. Previously, she’d spent nine years as director of the Ingham County Animal Control and Shelter in Mason, Michigan. “It’s been my career to go to shelters that need to be re-created in some ways,” she says, noting that McKamey already had the advantages of a brand-new facility and some thriving programs. “But there were challenges,” she says, alluding to the center’s well-publicized board/administrative disputes.
“We want to make sure we have a good working relationship with the city,” Lampman says. “It’s our mission to be servants of the community.” Specifically, she cites a major goal of reducing the number of homeless animals in Chattanooga. “It’s the biggest thing you can do to eliminate [all other problems],” she says.
Another focus is on bringing McKamey’s services to those who cannot come to the center. “We’re bringing spay/neuter and food bank services into communities where many people may have transportation difficulties,” she explains. “We have opportunities available for free spay and neuter—but that doesn’t matter if we can’t get the animals and their owners here. So we’re going to them.” McKamey now also has expanded hours, including Saturday, which means more people can take advantage of the center, including visiting to adopt pets.
McKamey’s animal control officers are going into the field and talking to community members who may never have, for example, lived with a dog not kept on a chain. “We talk to them about other ways to take care of their pets and in some cases, provide collars and leashes,” she says.
Lampman is also deeply committed to making sure humane owners can keep their pets even in difficult circumstances. She cites the case of a basset hound that was hit by a car and required vet services beyond the capacity of the owner to afford. Giving the dog up was a heartbreaking choice—but McKamey was able to help find veterinary help and food through the Angel Food Fund, and the owner was able to keep their beloved dog.
During the Patten Towers emergency, McKamey personnel discovered that almost every pet in the facility needed vet care, she says, and the center now regularly sends volunteer vet help to the facility to address the problems.
Though McKamey also has an enthusiastic non-vet volunteer group, more help can always be used, Lampman says, and those interested can volunteer for specific jobs, such as dog walking, or helping to care for cats.
Asked whether she feels the situation for animals in Chattanooga is improving, she considers. “There are hot spots,” she says. “We have zero tolerance for malicious treatment of animals and abusers are going to jail.” McKamey maintains an anonymous tipline for people to report animal abuse, including dog fighting, and every tip will be followed up. (Call 423-305-6505 to report suspected abuse.)
Lampman’s goal is no more Esmes needing rescue from abysmal conditions.
October is both Adopt a Shelter Dog Month, and Feral Cat Month. Last year, Lampman says, McKamey took in 2,200 feral cats, neutered and spayed them and returned them to their habitats, and would like to increase that number by 1,000 this year. This is the widely accepted method of reducing the feral cat population, as they will not then continue to have litters in the wild. Contact McKamey if you’d like to adopt a loving dog in need of a home, or would like to learn more about the “trap/neuter/release” program.
And golfers, get out your clubs: Nov. 4 is the Lexus Champions for Charity Golf Tournament to benefit McKamey, held at the Council Fire Golf Club.
Author’s note: This article is dedicated to lifelong animal lover and McKamey Animal Center supporter Betsy Bramlett, who passed away on Oct. 8, 2014. Donations can be made to McKamey in her memory at mckameyanimalcenter.org, or mailed to 4500 N. Access Rd., Chattanooga 37415. Call the center at (423) 305-6500.