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Project Smiley dog did not have rabies, Tuesday, November 30, 2004
Officials have fined Brenda Bishop, Project Smiley director, $750 for a number of violations, including three counts of animal cruelty, four counts of allowing animals to run at large and one count of rabies vaccination tag and certification offense.
Bishop called The Courier-Tribune Monday morning and was interviewed about the case up to that point. Efforts to reach her later in the day at the phone number provided were unsuccessful. A recorded phone message indicates the number is temporarily out of service. Violations against Bishop and her operation were noted when health department officials went to Project Smiley Nov. 23 to investigate reports of a rabid animal. That investigation led to the fines against Bishop. In the Monday morning interview, Bishop said she believes the matter has been blown out of proportion. She said she was too busy during the adoption fair on Nov. 7 to get information about the mother dog and its puppies before the family left. "They weren't interested," said Bishop. Bishop said the handler who was bitten by the mother dog had grabbed the dog inappropriately. Bishop said it is a matter of procedure to take any animal that has bitten a human in for tests for rabies if there is uncertain vaccination history. Concerning the citations, Bishop denied that any of her animals ever wander off her property. She said she doesn't believe she can be fined for animals running at large if the animals stay on her property. "MiMi Cooper says she has pictures of my dogs off my property," said Bishop. Cooper said Bishop is housing a horse in a shed in 2 1/2 feet of manure, conditions that led to one of the charges of animal cruelty.
Police arrest BARK owner
Banks was also charged with communicating threats and stalking Brenda Bishop, owner of Project Smiley.
Protest against BARK will take place Saturday
Banks and Brenda Bishop, owner of Smiley Project, another animal rescue group that joined forces with BARK earlier this year, responded by e-mail to the story in The Dispatch that reported Goss's situation. Bishop said she adopted Haley the same day the dog was left at BARK and that she has been unable to get a veterinary appointment in the two weeks she has had Haley.Bishop also said that Haley "will be donated by Project Smiley to a young man in a wheel chair."
Rescue kennel comes under fire
Randolph has also sent a formal request for the same information to Brenda Bishop, owner of Project Smiley.
Questions surround operation Sunday, December 5, 2004
ASHEBORO - Brenda Bishop, director of Project Smiley in Randleman, loaded up 56 animals Friday to take to adoption fairs in New Hampshire.When she gets home, she may find herself in the doghouse.Bishop 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 that.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 amended her 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 that she 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. Bishop has said in interviews that seven of those are her own.She also said she temporarily had more than nine animals because she was planning to take them out of state for adoption fairs.Bishop said she only has surplus numbers of animals on rare occasions.Typically, said Bishop, she 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.Bishop maintains she does not "sell" animals.She asks for a $125 adoption fee.In some cases, Bishop said, she 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.Bishop 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.Bishop 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 is her 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 said 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.Bishop said repeatedly in interviews that officials with the county health department do not treat her fairly.She said she 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 said she 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 relates she 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 when she is about to have an ALS-related seizure.Bishop said she 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 said she 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 said she 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 said she also plans to continue with her animal rescue work.She said she has friends who can attest to the care that she provides animals that come to Project Smiley.She admits to being outspoken and acknowledges that may not win her friends with the county.