There were fond farewells and a few grumbles Wednesday night for Joe Angelo, the outgoing interim director of Animal Care Services. Flanked by Kathy Davis, who took over the agency Monday, Angelo put in a final appearance at the ACS Advisory Board meeting.
The agenda was lighter than usual — abbreviated for a meet-and-greet afterwords with the newly arrived Davis. Nevertheless, the youthful Angelo got a few guffaws during one last round of good-natured joshing with Board Chair Sallie Scott. Angelo has been tapped to become the City’s Chief of Human Resources.
“San Antonio Animal Care Services has exceeded all expectations,” Angelo said as he underscored the agency’s strides towards meeting the City’s no-kill goal — rising live-release rates, more spay/neuter surgeries, and a slew of new funds. “ACS is the beneficiary of nearly $2 million in donations,” Angelo said. “More money than ACS received in its 60 year history combined.”
The outgoing director also made a point of thanking the beleaguered rescue group San Antonio Pets Alive! “We will continue to be positive,” Angelo told the board. “We will ignore the nonsense.”
One ACS employee sighed to her colleague, “Y’all are going to miss him.”
Not all will equally, to be sure.
Animal rights activist John Bachman sought to put Davis’ arrival in perspective. “She’s the eighth director since 2004,” Bachman told the board. “[ACS] is a much better place now than it was in 2004. We have a better facility, we have a better budget, we have more staff. The department is saving more animals and killing less.”
Bachman, however, chalked this up to the engagement of concerned citizens rather than the benevolence of the city. “It came from people that stood up and demanded change.”
Angelo’s final appraisal for the Board was one of accomplishment.
However, even the most jaded observers seemed optimistic Wednesday. Davis — who hardly spoke during the meeting — seemed to contrast with Angelo not so much in policy but in both her modesty and vast experience of animal care issues. After heading up code compliance for the City of Dallas from 2002 to 2008, Davis moved to Los Angeles where she worked with that city’s animal services department. Most recently, she ran a private foundation devoted to combating animal cruelty.
“We are hoping Kathy is the one that stays for the long-haul — continues with all the programs, continues to make progress,” District 9 Boardmember Rita Braeutigam told The Current.
“I am optimistic, given your background,” animal rights activist Kelly Walls told Davis after the meeting. “There are a lot of serious concerns and — unfortunately — you’re going to be the one addressing them.”
“I obviously believe in having transparency in government,” Davis told Walls. “That is what government is all about.”
Extending an olive branch to the agency’s sharpest critics, Davis added, “I hope we can all work together and stay focused on what the big goals are here. My hope is that you will be a positive contributor to that.”