Heart of the Foothills Animal Rescue is a local non-profit organization working to build a no-kill community in Rutherfordton, NC. Every one of our volunteers, staff, sponsors, community sponsors and donors are committed to helping to save the lives of animals in Rutherford County. We work with various organizations, including the local animal shelter and other rescue groups to provide a safe place for the animals to stay until they can find them forever homes.

Deep-rooted heartache can sprout a beauty that touches the lives of all God’s creatures in the most amazing way. We want to build a foundation here in our community. We want to touch the lives of all who enter our establishment and we hope we have. The men and women who make up our organization have all suffered a great loss. We all know how it feels to lose something or someone so valuable to our lives that we had to remind ourselves to breathe. Now we have come together as a reminder of how beautiful life can be. We became a heartbeat in the rescue community, steady and strong. We have saved countless lives and have helped countless people and we hope to continue moving in this direction until all companion animals are safe. Join our team, join the no-kill movement.


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Meet The Team

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Karen Parker

Director/Board Member

I have been involved in animal rescues since 2014. I became involved when I started to notice all the euthanasia of healthy adoptable dogs. The only way I knew how to help, to have some control, was to have a rescue of my own so I didn't have to find other rescues to help pull these dogs, I had the power to save them myself. It is a hard tiresome job. It is also a rewarding job, one that will keep me going until they are all safe and we can consider this county a no-kill community. 


Stephanie Henderson

Administrative Manager/Board Member

I have always loved animals but never thought I would end up working in a rescue. I started this journey by just trying to kill time and trying to get out in the world and make new friends. I succeeded in expanding my vision and becoming more confident in who I am. I learned to step out of my comfort zone in more ways than I could have ever dreamed of. You step into this idea of rescuing animals but at the end of the day when you think of all that you have overcome and all that you have accomplished., you start to wonder 'who rescued who'.  


Gladys Gines

Administrative Assistant/Board Member

I always knew that I wanted to volunteer at an animal shelter/rescue when I retired. When I found Heart of the Foothills Animal Rescue, I knew that it was where I wanted to be. I've always loved animals, and being able to help them is so gratifying. Plus, I've met some great people here and made some good friends! I've done pretty much everything here, but lately, I'm doing mostly administrative tasks and working events. But I pitch in wherever I'm needed. It's a great place to be!


Barbara Neuman

Volunteer/Board Member

My name is Barbara Neuman. My husband and I retired in 2009 from working in the oil industry in Houston, Texas. We, along with our three dogs, relocated to Rutherfordton that same year. I started volunteering at the Heart of the Foothills Animal Rescue several years ago, mostly doing animal care. My high energy level, allows me to do other outside projects as well. By volunteering, I have made many new friends and I feel such a sense of accomplishment each time our group is able adopt out and re-home an animal.


Christopher Henderson

Kennel Care


Rozanne Esparza 

Rescued Treasures Manager

Hello. I'm Rozanne Esparza, the store manager for Rescued Treasures, Heart of the Foothills thrift store in Forest City. I've been an animal rights activist and animal rescuer  from the age of 14. After retiring, I relocated to Rutherford County and spent time as a volunteer caring for kittens and cats at the adoption center. When Karen Parker asked me to volunteer at the thrift store, I was thrilled. It is an honor and privilege to do whatever I can to see the store succeed knowing that each and every sale means another animal can be rescued, cared for, and eventually find its forever home.

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Karen Snyder

Medical team

I have been a part of this hard-working team since the very start. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to foster over 200 dogs, puppies, cats, kittens, moms, babies, bottle feeders, and medical cases. Caring for them in their time of need and seeing them through the adoption process and into their forever homes is so rewarding.

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Leniece Lane


I have always LOVED dogs! I've had a dog for as long as I can remember and I can't imagine life without them. Working with the animals at HOTF brings so much joy and happiness to my life. Seeing these dogs that come in scared, starving, and mistreated learn to trust humans again and learn to love again is the best part of my day. I thank God for giving me dogs as my spirit animal and Heart of the Foothills for providing an opportunity to help change their lives by finding them their forever home.


Michelle McClain


My name is Michelle McClain. I have been a volunteer at Heart of the Foothills for almost two years. I have always been an animal lover and I have pets of my own. I would love to take all the dogs and cats at the shelter home with me. Since I can’t do that, I do the next best thing. I help these fur babies while they’re waiting for their forever homes.


Rickie McKenzie


I drove by Heart of the Foothill many many times without thinking a thing about it. One day I felt like I needed to stop and see what was going on. I know how a fish feels now cause I was hooked Wonderful people and a needed cause. Come on out you'll get hooked too!


Susan Collins


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Mary Jane Downs

Foster Mom


Maggie Monty



Kit Carpenter