‘Possum Lady’ Ordered Not to Care for Animals at Home
Sally Lambert, known as the Possum Lady because she cares for injured possums, has been told by the City of La Mesa to remove the animals from her home.
Despite the support of 150 La Mesa residents at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, council members voted 4 to 1 to keep the current zoning ordinance intact, which prohibits the keeping or boarding of animals, fowl or bees for others in a residential district.
They gave Lambert 90 days to remove her 15- to 20-pound possums from their makeshift hospital room.
“I don’t what I’m going to do,” Lambert said. “How do you stop something that you have been trained to do for 11 years?”
Lambert is a volunteer for Project Wildlife, a nonprofit group that treats and provides shelter to animals and birds that are abandoned or seriously injured. She said she was stunned by the vote.
“I talked to (Councilman Ernie) Ewin, I talked to the city clerk and the Zoning Department, and I thought I was going to get something,” Lambert said. “And they didn’t consider any of it.”
She had gathered 1,896 signatures to show the council the support she had in caring for the animals and asked that the council amend the ordinance granting a licensed person permission to operate a makeshift hospital for wildlife in a residential neighborhood.
A couple living next door to Lambert had complained to the city’s Planning Department that the hospital was in violation of the ordinance. Sheila O. Garrett of the city’s Planning Department said that, after the 90 days, she will contact Lambert to inform her of an inspection.
If Lambert still hasn’t removed the animals, Garrett said, she will ask the city attorney’s office to seek an injunction against the Possum Lady.