If you see Oak Cliff native Lee Jamison at a neighborhood bar, there might be a kitten in her bra. Or maybe a baby possum.
“When I get a baby anything, I typically put it in my bra first thing because they can’t regulate their own body temperature,” she says. Animals that small need to be fed every hour or two, which is why she carries them around with her sometimes.
Jamison is a corporate recruiter and actress/singer with a degree in musical theater from the University of Oklahoma. She also runs an organizing business on the side. She started an animal rescue nonprofit, Awwdoptable, in 2017.
How did you get involved with animal rescue?
It became apparent that there was a cat-breeding issue in Oak Cliff. There were a lot of resources dedicated to dogs, but not as many to cats. I had already been doing it my whole life. I rescued my first cat when I was 6.
You have a reputation as someone who can help with found animals, including wildlife such as baby birds, possums and raccoons.
I probably get 100 tags on Facebook a day asking me to help with some situation. I’m not exaggerating. And that doesn’t include the people who know me and have given my phone number to people who call or text me.
Why did you start a nonprofit?
People started donating, so it occurred to me that if I created a nonprofit, I could be a better steward of the money. A lot of veterinarians and the SPCA will give discounts to nonprofits, and we could apply for grants. We just got a $2,000 grant from PetSmart.
What’s the hardest part?
Kitten season is from about March to September. The time that we’re in right now [late summer] is the worst. Mama cats have had two or three litters of kittens already. They’re weak. They’re so hot. There aren’t enough resources for them. The milk they’re producing is probably weak, and the mama cats abandon their kittens. The cats I get this time of year are in horrible shape. A big part of my mission is to try to remain available for kitten rescue because the shelters and fosters are full. It’s very important to me to be able to say “yes.”
What do you want people to know about what you do?
I’m always hearing “someone should do something” about animals they see in the neighborhood that they think are being mistreated. I want people to know that they are “someone.” Go to the owner first. Don’t make your first call a 311 call because that’s not neighborly or kind. Just ask, “Do you need help getting flea medicine?” Or “Are you aware there’s flea medicine?” Calling 311 and assuming people are doing it intentionally or don’t care about their animals isn’t the compassionate thing.
What are you thankful for?
I care for a lot of sick kittens. I’ve been given this amazing gift and ability because of our donors. We had a kitten whose leg kept coming out of the socket. We were able to get the kitten the amputation it needed, and now she’s going to be great for the rest of her life. Those are the times that you’re like, “Oh, I did a thing today.”
How can people help?
Open your home. If you can’t foster, and you want to give money, that’s great. People send us stuff from Amazon. If you can’t be the one out there trapping and feeding, or if you can’t be the one fostering, then we always need help with transportation because our vet is in Allen.
You grew up in Oak Cliff?
Yes. My grandpa worked at Methodist, Dr. Harwin Jamison Sr. He was one of the pioneers of tubal ligation reconstruction. Over a 15-year period, he delivered half the babies in Dallas because he worked at Parkland and Methodist. My dad was director of ornithology at the Dallas Zoo. And my mom worked as the senior vice president of development for the SPCA, so their building off I-30 was her project.