What Happened to No Kill El Paso?

Screengrab of a cached version of the now deleted No Kill El Paso page on Facebook.

Screengrab of a cached version of the now deleted No Kill El Paso page on Facebook.

Serious allegations have been leveled by volunteer Barbara Valencia against the recently disbanded group No Kill El Paso:

She says a veterinarian told her puppies had been abandoned by [group founder John] Conwell, bills were going unpaid, foster parents couldn’t reach him for reimbursement and dogs were dying. Valencia called an emergency meeting, asking him for answers. That’s when he left the room, then changed his number, then dissolved No Kill.

[...]

She claimed she later found out he was transferring donations from the 501c’s account to his personal account and had left them with $10.

Specifically on the allegations of dogs dying, Ms. Valencia told a local news reporter:

Valencia says as a result of not having the resources they need, two puppies have died. “It’s heartbreaking,” said Valencia.

Last Friday KFOX14 met BB, a No Kill lab-mix puppy, sick with parvo. Valencia said BB died Monday morning because the group couldn’t get in contact with Conwell so that the puppy could get the proper treatment. Another dog, Astor, also died last week.

For his part, John Conwell told KFOX14 that he doesn’t have the group’s money but “other individuals” are in possession of the funds.  Ms. Valencia claims this is false.  Further, there is a question of access to records:

“No other volunteers had access to records he has all of the foster records, adoption records, vet records. He has everything and he refuses to give anything to us,” said Valencia.

Volunteers are reportedly relying on social media pleas to get an accurate count of foster animals and their needs.

I exchanged several messages on Facebook this morning with Mr. Conwell who told me the group never took in significant amounts of cash and limited the number of animals rescued to those whose expenses could be covered with the group’s funds.  He said he has receipts for payments made to veterinarians and that the report of the $10 balance in the bank account is accurate.  I asked him about the access to records and whether there is any way the remaining fosters could keep in touch and get reimbursed for expenses but he did not reply.

A local group called Animal Rescue League has reportedly offered to help the dogs abandoned by No Kill El Paso.

It is my hope that the animals currently in foster care under the No Kill El Paso banner can be immediately located and have their needs met.  There should be no question as to access to records, regardless of the group’s status, since there are pets and people in need.  Beyond that, I hope someone with an interest will form a new group to advocate for no kill in El Paso since the need is still there.

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12 Comments

  1. Either way- wether he stole money or not- this is a story about failure. Failure with the ability to budget or raise enough money to even properly care for the animals. I have always wondered why that is not addressed more with No Kill.

    Reply
    • John Conwell

       /  January 8, 2013

      Mary, in the article it states that we limited our intake on what we could afford to treat and Vet within our means.

      Reply
  2. mikken

     /  January 8, 2013

    That is very sad. And to leave fosters without resources is terrible.

    Reply
  3. db

     /  January 8, 2013

    Wouldn’t it be nice if one of the big money organizations stepped up to help out financially? That’s not going to happen, though, and maybe it’s best to keep them away from the animals . . .

    Reply
  4. John Conwell

     /  January 8, 2013

    Unfortunately this Blog was posted before I completed my response to the inquiries. I also provided a copy of text messages showing that we had been in communication AFTER I changed my number on 16 December. Here is what was sent (I have not made any corrections to spelling or formatting):

    … 11:43am
    John Conwell

    The point is that I don’t have any substantial donations… that $2000 came from yself, as well as all the payments I have made out of my own pockets.

    Barbara and every one else have always known that we adopt out for $100/$50 and the vetting costs us over $130 and they have known that aside from very limited donations the delta of the vetting costs were being paid for by me.

    A list of fosters? There were only 5 of us consistently. I have been in contact with each of them continuosuly since we dissolved. At a meeting on 28 December, prior to us dissolving, it was agreed that each of would keep the fosters we had at that time but that we would continue to Vet them as a group. On the 29th the organization was dissolved, amicably I thought, and there was never anything stated that I would not continue to cover the dogs.

    When the dogs began to be sick the following week the only thing I had was a text from another volunteer asking if I was going to treat the dog. Because I was not aware of anything I didn’t respond. I did corrspond with the volunteer that was fostering the sick dogs and at no time did she indicate that there was any dire medical situation.

    Now I am being blamed for not treating the dogs but mu osmosis gene isn’t working well and if I am not told ahead of time of any situations then brought in after the fact I can only do so much. I even contacted her at 7:08 AM regarding the dog’s condition and her reply was “Not good”. I heard nothing until 9:19 when she was at the Vet Clinic. When the first dog was diagnosed I stated that I would cover the treatment and she came back and said they wre putting him down. When they notified me of the second dog, once again after the fact, I attempted to contact the Vet Clinic. They handed the phone to Barbrara and rather than listen to her BS I text the volunteeer and told her I was on my way. I arrived and made payment and rather than allow Barbara to cause a scene at the clinic walked out AFTER paying for treatment and informing the volunteers and clinic that I needed to be kept informed of the situation if I was going to pay the bills.

    After I departed the Volunteer text me thanking me for making payment and even though she said she would pay the rest of the bill I stated that I would cover it. Since then all I have received is accusations and no requests for assistance.

    So, giving that I have done all that I can based on what they are telling me and despite them saying that I am not communicating with them, can show these texts, I am not sure what their agenda is. I know what I have offered to do, I know what I have done and beyond that, any accusations that they make without providing any substantiating evidence iare just attacks to assuage their guilt.

    … 11:44am
    John Conwell

    You may quote me but I would ask that I be provided anything to review prior for context…. Not saying I will edit but just to have an opportunity to make sure it is stated correctly…

    … 11:48am
    YesBiscuit

    I already posted. As a courtesy, I simply summarized our conversation rather than quote you directly. I don’t allow anyone to edit my posts, ever. If you would like to post a comment on the blog including any information you feel is appropriate, please feel welcome to do so.

    … 11:48am
    John Conwell

    And for the record, Barbara had resigned and the other director had stated her intent to work independently the previous night prior to me dissolving the organization.

    I didn
    t expect to be able to edit… Just wanted to chance to see…

    Also, for the record, I changed my number on 18 December not AFTER the meeting… And it was to make it a local number and not a California number!

    And there has never been a request for the records… Ask her to document these and any requests she claims I am not providing…

    Reply
  5. I wonder how many of the No Kill state and city advocacy groups actually serve as rescues. No Kill Delaware does not collect any donations or do any rescue work. We try to promote the animals at our state’s five shelters and rescue groups. DE has 5 shelters, 4 of which are No Kill. While we continually post about problems at the pound that does convenience killing, we also serve as a clearinghouse for problems raised by volunteers and employees at the No Kill shelters. We promote TNR for feral/stray cats. And we also lobby the state legislature for better laws.

    Reply
    • No Kill Brevard is not a rescue nor do we solicit donations. Our purpose is to L.e.a.d. Learn, Educate, Advocate, Do. Our members promote our local shelter animals, educate the community, some foster, some are their own rescues, some are involved in TNR, we support our local rescues, help with adoption events, share information, facilitate discussions on No Kill and how we can assist our local shelter to advance towards 90% + live release rate among other things. I can’t recall seeing a No Kill state or city advocacy group serve as a rescue.

      Reply
  6. Jennifer

     /  January 8, 2013

    Since this group is a 501c3, there should have been a board of directors and officers to oversee the records not just one person. As a foster, I have signed agreements and I keep a copy of them for my records and this includes vet statements/bills.

    Reply
  7. Bingosmommie

     /  March 9, 2013

    Just to update everyone, the situation became dire due to Mr. Conwell’s refusal to respond to the foster families as well as adoptive families. Mr. Conwell collected adoption fees and adopted out dogs/puppies that were not vaccinated, microchipped or spayed/neutered. He promised the families that the services would be provided at a later date. Sadly, a lot of the dogs/puppies never received vet care and the families were left hanging, having to pay out of their own pockets to vet their new dogs/puppies on top of paying the initial adoption fee. Some of these unaltered dogs have since either given birth to puppies or impregnated other dogs resulting in yet more puppies into an already saturated community. Some of the dogs/puppies he adopted out had become sick/or died of parvo and distemper due to his failure of not vaccinating/vetting. And then their are the dogs/puppies that somehow found their way to the pound. Of those, a few had microchips that were registered to Mr. Conwell/No Kill El Paso. The city made multiple attempts to have Mr. Conwell come pick up the dogs/puppies that were in his rescue, he ignored them, resulting in the dogs/puppies being deemed abandoned and they were euthanized. There were more than 5 foster homes, much more. Most of the foster/adoption homes were military families who thought they were supporting a fellow veteran. All the while Mr. Conwell used his retired, veteran status to gain the trust of these families then leaving them with an unvetted, unaltered dog and mounds of debt, laughing all the way to the bank with their money. To this day, vet offices still haven’t been paid, he transferred the money from the rescue account into his personal bank account, still refuses to turn over the records to authorities by claiming he never had any records (what the F) and cries that he is the victim of a conspiracy. I was one of the fosters that got stuck with almost $1,000 in vet bills that I paid for some of his unvaccinated (he lied and said he had vaccinated them, but never did) puppies. In his foster contract it states “NKEP/AEP will pay for pre-approved or emergency medical expenses incurred by foster dog”. Parvo, distemper, bloat are considered emergencies. No where in his contract does it state that he needs to be notified first for emergencies. He never once gave out his new number to adopters/foster families so they could notify him, yet he states that he can’t do anything until he is notified. He ignores and never responds to emails. So how can he be notified? How convenient, Mr. Conwell. Where is Mr. Conwell now? He has crawled back under his slimy rock. To this day he still refuses to respond to anyone. And with each passing day, another victim comes forward. Sadly, the ones paying the price for what this con man did are the dogs/puppies. And they pay the ultimate price by losing their lives.

    Reply
  8. Bingosmommie

     /  March 9, 2013

    After Mr. Conwell ATTEMPTED (and I use the term loosely) to make excuses, this was posted on Facebook. Poor Mr. Conwell can’t even keep his lies straight. In the unedited news interviews, Mr. Conwell went as far as to say that No Kill El Paso was never registered/listed as a non-profit so transferring funds form NKEP to his personal account is an acceptable business practice. Sorry Mr. Conwell, I have evidence to prove NKEP was non-profit. Also in unedited news interviews, Mr. Conwell stated that was not the founder of NKEP, but just a dedicated volunteer. Once again, I have the evidence that shows to the contrary (complete with his own signatures).

    Facebook posting:

    The founder of No Kill El Paso disagrees with recent claims made by former volunteers

    Lie #1: Rescue dissolving:
    This is what he told KVIA on Jan.9th
    John Conwell said he only chose to dissolve No Kill El Paso when he found out animal foster parents were resigning. ( but he doesn’t give any details of why volunteers were resiging. It was because of what the volunteers discovered at that emergency meeting on Dec. 28th and he refused to give us answers. see resignation letter dated Dec. 28th below)
    This is what he told KFOX on Jan. 7th
    Conwell said disagreement within the group over treatment for a dog last month forced him to shut down his rescue
    This is what he told KVIA on Jan. 6th

    We discussed it as a group and decided to dissolve the rescue

    Lie #2: this is what he told KVIA on Jan.9th
    According to him, he had to transfer money from the rescue’s account into his own to ensure veterinarian bills were paid (yet vets have not received payment for services they performed for his rescue).
    This is what he told KFOX on Jan 7th
    Conwell told KFOX14 he doesn’t have access to the group’s financials and named certain volunteers who do have access to the organizations funds

    So which is it, the group as a whole decided to dissolve or he closed it and abandoned everyone as the volunteers have consistently said? Hmmmmm? Why won’t he give out his new cell number on camera for adopters/fosters to get in touch with him if he has done nothing wrong? The volunteers have given out their numbers from the very beginning. And he claims he can’t help if he isn’t notified yet he refuses to give out his cell number. So how can anyone notify him?
    So which is it, he transferred the money into his personal account as the volunteers have consistently said, or he doesn’t have access to the rescue’s funds? Hmmmm?
    Resignation letter:

    From: Barbara Valencia [mailto:bingosmommie@yahoo.com]
    Sent: Friday, December 28, 2012 9:20 PM
    To: John Conwell
    Cc: princesslillyrenee@yahoo.com
    Subject: Resignation

    TO: Mr. John Conwell No Kill El Paso DATE: December 28, 2012 Mr. Conwell; It is with a sad heart that I am resigning as a volunteer/board member of No Kill El Paso effective immediately. The meeting today was eye opening and at this point in time I feel it is in my best interest to take a step back. The most troubling part of the meeting was your “deafening silence” when I asked where No Kill El Paso is on your priority list. Since I came on board, I have given up time with my husband so that I could, and have given NKEP the needed attention to be a reputable rescue. As of the last six weeks, things have been going downhill for NKEP and your failure to respond to both volunteers and adopters is unacceptable. Your recent lack of care/welfare for the dogs/puppies is extremely troubling and I do not wish to be part of this. I came on board with NKEP because of my love and compassion for the animals in our city and due to the recent incidences at NKEP, it is against my morals and ethics to condon or participate in such activities. I would like to extend myself as a volunteer in the future, should NKEP get “back on the right track”. I wish you luck in your future endeavors. Barbara Valencia
    January 10 at 9:13pm ·

    Yesbiscuit, I would be very glad to speak with you about this ongoing tradegy that is happening due to Mr. Conwell’s con game. Even as I right this, another dog from NKEP is being euthanized because Mr. Conwell refuses to take responsibility.

    Reply

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