INDIANAPOLIS -- An animal welfare advocate and doctor is facing accusations of mistreating animals following an investigation by county and city agencies.
Hope Smith is facing 11 counts of animal care and treatment violations, court records show.
A spokesperson for Indianapolis Animal Care Services said they received a complaint on February 6 about deplorable conditions at the home.
They found multiple dogs inside a fenced enclosure with an excessive amount of feces and a strong odor of urine and feces.
IACS obtained a warrant to enter the home and further investigation.
“Once we entered the home, a hoarding situation was discovered along with 11 dogs, an excessive depth of feces piled on the floor, and a strong odor of urine throughout the house,” said IACS spokesperson Dimiti Kyser. “The Indianapolis Fire Department was called to test the ammonia level present within the home. Due to the conditions of the home and the risks posed to the animal’s health, 11 dogs were confiscated and 11 care and treatment violations issued to the owner.”
Curt Brantingham, a spokesperson for the Marion County Public Health Department, said IMPD alerted them to the condition of a home on West 88th Street on February 7.
Health inspectors observed “emergency sanitation violations” including feces throughout the home, and the home was declared unfit for human habitation.
By the time health inspectors arrived, all the animals had already been removed from the home.
Smith had served as a board member with FIDO (Friends of Indianapolis Dogs Outside) since October, but resigned following the investigation this week, according to a FIDO spokesperson.
State records show Smith is a licensed physician with a specialty in occupational medicine.
Smith told Call 6 Investigates Kara Kenney the dogs were healthy and in good condition, but admits her home was not well kept.
“It got away from me,” said Smith. “My basement recently flooded and wiped out my savings. I help other people before I will take care of myself.”
Smith said she is 77 years old and believes someone has a vendetta against her.
“Once they came in here, I started taking care of it,” said Smith. “I have friends helping, and I will pay for the rest.”
As for the health department order and the condition of the property, the matter has been set for a February 28 court date.
“If the owner fails to comply within that time, the health department will request a court order to vacate the property,” said Brantingham. “The owner has expressed a willingness to comply and claims to have the funds to do so.”
A court date has not yet been set for the care and treatment violations.
Indianapolis Animal Care Services, formerly known as Indianapolis Animal Care and Control, has not yet provided any information on the condition or whereabouts of the animals.
Call 6 Investigates was unable to reach Hope Smith Friday afternoon for comment.
Molly Hale, FIDO Board Member, released the following statement to Call 6 Investigates:
"We are aware that Animal Control Services removed several dogs from the home of a FIDO volunteer board member due to health code violations. We have asked the board member to resign.
FIDO is not a rescue or animal shelter. During the course of our community outreach services, volunteers may need to pick up strays to get them out of harm’s way, off the street, and hopefully reunited with their owners. We follow the proper procedures for finding the owner, including filing a Found Animal Report with Animal Care Services. Our policy is to take those dogs to reputable animal rescues around the city. If rescues are at capacity, FIDO will pay for temporary, emergency boarding at a boarding facility. If that is not an option, we take the dogs to Animal Care Services.
"We are cooperating with Animal Care Services Control, the Health Department, and IMPD during this investigation. We are also reviewing our internal policies and procedures to ensure all strays recovered by a FIDO volunteer go immediately to a reputable facility.
All animals are being held at the IACS facility on South Harding Street, pending a court hearing with the owner, according to Kyser.
IACS would not release photographs of the investigation to RTV6.