ASHEBORO - Brenda Bishop, director of Project Smiley in Randleman, loaded up 56 animals Friday to take to adoption fairs in New Hampshire.
gets home, she
may find herself in the doghouse.
came under scrutiny from the health department most recently because a dog and a litter of puppies she
accepted for adoption were suspected of having rabies.
Officials searched the entire Thanksgiving Day weekend for the family that donated the animals.The family came forward on Nov. 29 with verification of the animal's health status.
In the process of that investigation, questions surfaced about the nonprofit status of Project Smiley and the operational procedures of Bishop's
self-described no-kill, animal rescue operation.
Randolph said that in 2002, Project Smiley
received a temporary exemption to operate as a charitable organization based on information that Bishop
provided to the state.
Randolph said Bishop
has never refiled and is not in the state's database.
In an interview Friday, Bishop
asserted that Project Smiley
is registered with the state.She
cited as evidence a letter from Randolph's office.A copy of that letter sent to The Courier-Tribune
by Randolph's office shows it is dated November 2002.
Randolph said Friday any attempt by Bishop
to use that letter to validate solicitations now is a misrepresentation.
When told that the state requires her
to file annually, Bishop
said no one ever told her
The letter from Randolph's office stated that Project Smiley
was exempt in November 2002.However, it goes on to state, "If the organization's status remains the same, please submit annually a copy of your financial information for the immediate preceding fiscal year in order to determine your organization's exemption status."Bishop
statement Friday to say she
sent the state "a stack of paperwork last year."But, she said, she was in the process of loading animals to take to New Hampshire and did not have time to research the matter.
According to the Internal Revenue Service
representative at the IRS toll-free number listed in the phone directory, Project Smiley
is not a tax-exempt charity.Donations made to Project Smiley
cannot be claimed on federal tax returns.Bishop
has said repeatedly in interviews with The Courier-Tribune
has solicited and received funds based on the nonprofit status of Project Smiley
with the state and federal government.Dr. Carol Woodless, North Carolina animal welfare veterinarian with the state Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services (NCDA&CS), would like to speak with Bishop regarding Project Smiley's adoption process.
has said in interviews that seven of those are her
also said she
temporarily had more than nine animals because she
was planning to take them out of state for adoption fairs.
only has surplus numbers of animals on rare occasions.Typically, said Bishop
quickly places the animals and does not consider herself in violation of any state regulations.
However, Woodless said, Bishop
is not licensed in North Carolina to operate a pet store, either.
does not "sell" animals.She
asks for a $125 adoption fee.In some cases, Bishop
waives the fee in part or in total just to get animals placed in good homes.
However, on the Project Smiley website, one black and brown colored dog named Killer is listed for sale at "$250, firm."Project Smiley
is also linked to the New Hampshire-based Puppy Angels website where a pit bull mix named Peek-a-boo is listed for sale at "$300, firm."
The county health department expects Bishop
to pay $750 in fines by Dec. 7.Otherwise, she
will be summoned to court to answer three charges of animal cruelty, four counts of allowing animals to run at large and one count of rabies vaccination tag and certification offense.
told the veterinarian that the animal had bitten one of the handlers at her
facility and that she
did not have a record of vaccination for the animal.The animal was euthanized so it could be tested for rabies.
said the family "just wanted to dump the dogs on someone" and did not stay around long enough for her
to talk to them.
Another contention local animal control officials have with Bishop
assertion that Project Smiley
is a no-kill facility. Bishop
said in an interview that she
has only had six animals taken to or picked up by county animal control.She
was heartbroken after learning from a young girl - who Bishop
said works at the shelter - that three hound dogs Bishop gave to the shelter were immediately euthanized.
On April 23, Allison said Bishop
surrendered a dachshund to the animal shelter.
Later this summer, Allison said, Bishop
called officers to pick up three dogs that had been left for adoption at Project Smiley
said repeatedly in interviews that officials with the county health department do not treat her
provides a valuable service, rescuing animals from the side of the road and taking in animals whose owners can no longer care for them.Bishop
also trains service dogs for disabled persons, animals trained to open doors or drawers and to pick items up from the floor.
On the Project Smiley website, Bishop
became interested in training service dogs because she
was diagnosed with ALS "a while ago."In an interview, she
said the diagnosis came approximately in 2000.Bishop
said on her
website that her
own dog, Ace, alerts her
is about to have an ALS-related seizure.
doesn't understand why she
faces such animosity from the county.
"I know I do talk bad about them," she
said."But that's because they don't have to kill everything they get in there."Bishop
said in 2004 she
has helped 933 animals get spayed or neutered.She
said often people give her
money to cover the cost of the operation.When they don't, Project Smiley
picks up the costs.Bishop
estimates it costs Project Smiley
$271 to take care of each dog the organization processes.That covers the cost of feeding, spaying or neutering, parvo vaccination, rabies vaccination and six months to one year of heartworm medication.She
estimates that Project Smiley
has placed over 250 dogs this year.That assertion may pose some problems with the state and federal government.A tax-exempt organization is only exempt from filing tax reports if it is approved by the state and federal government and if it receives less than $25,000 in donations each year.
If Project Smiley
has placed 250 dogs that cost the organization $271 each, the organization had to have received $67,750 in cash, goods and/or services.Bishop
maintains that she
never has a surplus of funds and has never received over the $25,000 limit.
The figure, $67,750, does not include any extra money Bishop would have to have on hand to assist in paying for any number of the 933 animals she
reported helping to get spayed or neutered.Bishop
plans to fight the county's charges in court.She
also planned to have her
volunteers hold an adoption fair at Hammer Village Shopping Center this past Saturday.
Such adoption fairs may pose another problem.According to Asheboro city officials, Project Smiley
does not now have and has never had a permit to hold an activity at Hammer Village.A permit from the city does not sanction the adoption fair, according to city officials.It is simply to insure there is enough room in the parking lot to accommodate both the activity and parking for normal retail operations.Bishop
also plans to continue with her
animal rescue work.She
has friends who can attest to the care that she
provides animals that come to Project Smiley
admits to being outspoken and acknowledges that may not win her
friends with the county.