New Hope Rescue director & vet face cruelty charges; shelter loses operating permit
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado––New Hope Rescue Inc. is in big-time trouble again.
This time the Colorado Department of Agriculture has reportedly revoked the New Hope Rescue operating permit.
Colorado Department of Agriculture Pet Animal Care & Facilities Act enforcement bureau chief Nick Fisher on November 5, 2021 warned the public that his agency “has serious concerns about the potential for the community spread of distemper through dogs from New Hope Rescue and through unknown exposure to dogs in the community via dog parks, boarding facilities, dog daycare facilities, and at retail establishments that allow dogs on-premises.”
New Hope Rescue Inc. was among the animal rescue charities whose haphazard operations caused ANIMALS 24-7 to wonder in 2015 whether adoption transport had become for many practitioners a thinly disguised pyramid scheme.
How adoption pyramid schemes work––or don’t work
In adoption pyramid schemes, large metropolitan shelters reduce euthanasias and boost their “live release rates” by funneling animals of poor adoption prospects and/or a high likelihood of failing in an adoptive home to smaller shelters and shelterless “rescues,” whose idealistic goal is to “save them all.”
The smaller organizations, whose revenue streams typically depend heavily on adoption fees rather than donations from the public, in turn try to foster out or transfer to other organizations the animals they cannot rehome successfully.
The losers end up with unadoptable animals who suffer from neglect, especially after their erstwhile rescuers run low on funds.
At least 41 shelters and rescues in the U.S. with a modus operandi comparable to that of New Hope Rescue have run into similar legal issues thus far in 2021, but New Hope Rescue may be the only one suspected of spreading distemper.
Six years after ANIMALS 24-7 first noticed New Hope Rescue, the local headlines about it sound much as they did in 2015, except that the conditions reportedly found by law enforcement appear to be worse.
The IRS information service contractor www.Guidestar.org indicates that New Hope Rescue claims annual revenue of $230,000, with assets of $28,000, but the apparent failure of New Hope Rescue to file IRS Form 990, which it is required to do, tends to suggest that the organization may be neither financially viable nor adequately accountable enough to inspire donor confidence.
“New Hope Rescue director Joann Roof and veterinarian Frederick Smith both face multiple animal cruelty charges,” reported Dan Beedie on November 8, 2021 for KRDO television in Colorado Springs.
The charges result from a search warrant executed in September 2021 by the Colorado state division of Animal Law Enforcement, Colorado Springs Police, and representatives of the Colorado Department of Agriculture, Beedie explained.
Smith, apparently also employed by the Compassion Animal Hospital in Woodland Park, “was charged with five counts of animal cruelty,” Beedie said.
47 animals sent to Denver Dumb Friends League
Thirty dogs and 17 cats were “seized from the premises” on November 4, 2021, Beedie detailed, and were “transferred to the Denver Dumb Friends League at Roof’s request,”
“According to arrest affidavits for Roof and Smith,” Beedie continued, “five dogs were seen in poor or questionable condition,” most “with their ribs and hip bones showing. One dog,” Beedie said, had injuries “consistent with something being tied around the neck either too tight or possibly for too long. A third dog was incessantly coughing, and animal law enforcement feared the animal would vomit.
“Animal Law Enforcement discovered two dogs locked inside of a shed behind the animal rescue with piles of feces throughout the animals’ living area,” Beedie recounted.
Vet doesn’t believe in distemper tests
The arrest affidavit for Roof and Smith mentioned that one of the two dogs in the shed displayed symptoms of distemper.
“When asked why he was allowing a dog that had tested positive for distemper to be in housed in the same shed as another dog who had not yet been confirmed positive for the virus, New Hope’s vet told animal law enforcement he did not believe in distemper tests and that he doesn’t even order them,” Beedie narrated.
Veterinarians from the Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region described a variety of other indications of neglect of both dogs and record-keeping at New Hope Rescue.
Charges pending from 2020
The New Hope Rescue closure on November 4, 2021 came about two weeks before director Joann Roof was to go to trial on cruelty charges filed on August 23, 2020.
“At least three different animals were neglected and did not receive appropriate care for their health and well-being,” Humane Society of the Pikes Peak Region director of animal law enforcement Jamie Norris told Chelsea Brentzel of KRDO on January 15, 2021.
Explained Brentzel, “Roof was originally charged with three felony counts of animal cruelty.. Court records show two of the puppies related to the charges died days after their adoption.
“Roof was charged with the felonies because it was her second offense,” Brentzel recounted, “but those charges were consolidated to one misdemeanor because she met the terms of her deferred sentence” for nine counts of cruelty filed in 2014.
Also charged in 2014 & 2015
“El Paso County court records show Roof was charged with nine misdemeanor counts of animal cruelty in 2014,” Brentzel elaborated earlier. “Court records show she accepted a guilty plea without admitting guilt in the case, and was sentenced to six months of unsupervised probation and nearly $4,000 in fines.”
In 2015, Brentzel added, “Roof pleaded guilty,” in Pueblo, Colorado, “and then withdrew her plea after being charged with having a dangerous dog that caused death to another animal. Court records indicate she paid over $400 in restitution and court fees in that case,” which “was eventually dismissed.”
Roof, 48, founded New Hope Rescue in 2013, her online resumé indicates, after two years “as the Colorado Springs coordinator,” and as a board member, for 4 Paws 4 Rescue, of Sedalia, Colorado.
Calling herself “Dr. Roof” elsewhere online, Roof claims to be a “disassociative disorder specialist,” with an extensive background in counseling of various sorts, chiefly for Christian organizations.
Houston partnership ended early
New Hope Rescue appears to have originally been an adoption transfer partner of the Rescued Pets Movement [RPM], also founded in 2013, in Houston, Texas.
Begun by Houston attorney Laura Carlock, RPM had reportedly already transported about 2,000 animals from the Houston Bureau of Animal Regulation & Care shelter to adoption shelters and fostering partners in Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming before becoming controversial in June 2014, when the city of Houston appropriated $330,000 to underwrite and expand the program.
Carlock told Sherry Williams of KHOU 11 News in Houston that the subsidy would amount to about $75 per animal transported, meaning an anticipated transport volume of about 4,400 animals per year. New Hope Rescue was believed to be the primary intended recipient of the animals, though available public records indicate it never actually was.
Most of the dogs transported––and practically all of those received by New Hope Rescue, photos indicated––appeared to be pit bulls and pit mixes.
Houston funded the RPM transfer program, reported Craig Malisow of the Houston Post, even though New Hope Rescue “had been found by a Colorado Department of Agriculture inspection to have ‘excessively dirty and cluttered’ conditions, including ‘animal wastes in enclosures and many other areas of the facility.’”
“We’re not dealing with New Hope anymore,” BARC Director Greg Damianoff told Williams of KHOU.
Valencia County Animal Shelter partnership
New Hope Rescue more recently accepted animal transfers from the Valencia County Animal Shelter in New Mexico.
That arrangement was suspended in mid-2020, but “After further investigation into the charges against Roof, the shelter director [Jess Weston] said he feels comfortable bringing animals to the rescue,” Chelsea Brentzel of KRDO updated in January 2021, a week after a Valencia County Animal Shelter staff member visited New Hope, finding, Brentzel said, that “the conditions were up to protocol.”
Weston told Brentzel, Brentzel summarized, that “the allegations against [New Hope Rescue founder] Roof aren’t how they are being portrayed.”
In 2020, according to the Colorado Animal Shelter & Rescue Individual Report, New Hope Rescue reported receiving 705 adult dogs and 464 puppies from out of state organizations, for a total of 1,169. New Hope Rescue also reported receiving 25 dogs from other rescue organizations within Colorado; grand total of 1,194 dog intakes.
In addition, New Hope Rescue reported receiving 231 owner-relinquished adult dogs and 52 owner-relinquished puppies.
The Colorado Animal Shelter & Rescue Individual Report does not indicate how many of these 283 dogs were relinquished back to New Hope Rescue after adoption failures.
Altogether, New Hope Rescue reported taking in 1,477 dogs, while receiving and rehoming 908 adult dogs plus 467 puppies, total of 1,375, leaving a minimum of 102 more dogs received than were rehomed.
Forty-six dogs were said to be in foster care, 14 were still in the shelter, and 26 dogs either died at the shelter or were euthanized, leaving a balance of 16 dogs unaccounted for.
New Hope Rescue also reported receiving 62 owner-relinquished adult cats, plus 37 owner-relinquished kittens, with no indication as to how many may have been returned due to adoption failure.
New Hope Rescue reported receiving 213 adult cats and 311 kittens transferred from out of state.
Taking in 623 cats and kittens total, New Hope Rescue reported rehoming 242 adult cats and 361 kittens, a total of 603, with 26 cats and kittens either dying in the shelter or being euthanized; and ended the year with 12 adult cats still in the shelter, none reported to be in foster care.