For now, and for the foreseeable future, a dog deemed a “ticking time bomb” by the city of Dallas will live.
And the man tasked, reluctantly, with her execution grows increasingly frustrated with a situation now tied up in two Dallas courtrooms after dog lovers and defense attorneys rushed to spare the dog known as Lamb of God from the veterinarian’s needle.
“I get it — we’re talking about an animal’s life, and I 100 percent empathize,” said Ed Jamison, the newly hired director of Dallas Animal Services.
Jamison, hailed for his work overhauling animal control in Cleveland, was hired in August to lead an embattled department criticized in recent years for failing to protect the public from loose and dangerous dogs.
“When an animal loses its life, there’s a piece I can feel and appreciate,” Jamison said Monday. “But my bigger issue is what brought me here in the first place, which is to keep people safe.”
Lamb of God, the yellow Labrador whose imminent demise has become a cause célèbre in recent days, was scheduled to be euthanized no later than last Friday morning after she bit a boy in the face last month, her third attack since last Christmas.
Michael Acuna, a Dallas Municipal Court judge, ordered the dog to be “destroyed” on Nov. 20 and gave the city 10 days to carry out the execution.
But at the last moment, Deep Ellum residents, downtown dwellers and two high-profile defense attorneys — both of whom used to work in the Dallas County district attorney’s office — got the dog nicknamed Lamby a stay of execution.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, according to Brad Lollar, who is representing the dog’s panhandling owner Sean Baugh in municipal court, and George Milner III, who got the dog a stay of execution in county criminal court Wednesday.
City attorneys prosecuting the case didn’t return messages left Monday, but Lollar, the former prosecutor now serving as a public defender, said, “I haven’t heard of any hearings scheduled by any judge anywhere.”
And I’ve heard nothing,” said Milner, who found out about the dog’s plight on a defense attorneys’ listserv last week.
As of Monday afternoon, Milner and Lollar had yet to speak about the case, which they’d taken on independently of each other in the hopes of sending the dog from the shelter to a sanctuary.
Lollar said Baugh denies accusations that he has abused the dog he dresses up in silly hats and oversized sunglasses to make money off downtown tourists.
But it was Milner who secured the dog a stay of execution: He said he called Dallas County Criminal Court Judge Julia Hayes last Wednesday, and that she agreed to sign the emergency motion that forced the city to put away the needle for now.
That single signature threw the case into disarray: At an early morning hearing Thursday, Acuna punted the case to county court and told attorneys involved to settle the jurisdictional issues before returning.
Late last week, city attorneys were hoping to rush back to the courtroom. But the pace has stalled to a crawl.
And that has the new director of animal services concerned — and deeply frustrated.
“It’s problematic because the dog is very unpredictable,” Jamison said. “And I am worried about my staff getting hurt.”
He said Monday that in coming days, Dallas Animal Services will announce that it adopted, transferred and otherwise spared more animals in November than any previous month. But that feel-good story will likely be buried by this one.
“And yet everyone’s calling for my death for going through the proper process in this case,” he said. “I’ve seen comments that say I should be euthanized. And it is what it is. I get it. I try not to read this stuff. But I know I am trying to make the best decisions to keep the public safe. I will never put the city in jeopardy.”