When Dogs Deserve Better agreed to take Sheba and 026, as he was called in Arizona because they didn’t know who he was, we named him Marty and changed Sheba’s name to Princess for a new start and and better life.
Although we were fairly certain they were both part of the Devore Shepherds that ended up at OAS in June 2012, we didn’t know much more about them until we began investigating and were in contact with Debbie Skinner who told us more of their background and provided us with their early vet care records.
In passing, Debbie made a remark on the Facebook page that she wished their names weren’t changed, and we thought, isn’t that a small gift to give someone who cares so much and has worried so long about the welfare of these dogs? Out of respect for all those who loved these dogs and cared for them before sending them to OAS, we have changed their names BACK to their original names, at least until they get adopted at which point things can always change again.
So, drumroll please, the former ‘026’ who was actually Waldo/Cesar in disguise, and then named Marty by DDB, is BACK to the name Waldo. It fits him! He’s a silly boy and so loving and so brave and outgoing for all he’s been through. Seeing him run each night as far as he could in the hotel room, and waiting for him to get to run and play at the Good Newz Rehab Center, we have been blessed to be a part of his evolution to loving and caring family dog.
Neither of these dogs knew any name, but they are being called Waldo and Sheba daily by staff at the Good Newz Rehab Center, so they will quickly understand and learn that these are their names and respond to them.
Waldo at the Good Newz Rehab Center
If you’re interested in adopting Waldo, visit our adoption page at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/adopt.html and submit an application. He is currently located at the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, Virginia. He is fully vetted, dog friendly, and people friendly if given a small amount of time to adjust to new faces. He will quickly become a very people friendly dog, we believe.
Sheba is back to being Sheba, and although still shy, is making progress according to our behavioral therapist Amy Hines: “The progress continues slowly, but surely for these two former OAS dogs. Waldo has FINALLY convinced Sheba that it is safe to play in front of humans. They are putting on weight and their coats are beginning to get a beautiful sheen that reflects when the sun hits their backs. Waldo is the less challenging of the two and is quite the comedian.
Sheba has not let anyone touch her yet, but today was monumental as she took treats out of three of our hands. I sat on the steps going down into the yard today to see if she would walk past me. She wanted back in because it started to snow lightly. She walked up, sat about 3 feet in front of me, looked into my eyes and gave me a playful bark as if to tell me to move my butt so she could go inside. I laughed to myself thinking that the eye contact and her willingness to communicate “her” way was a big step for her. I complied and got up from the steps.”
Between daily walks and runs in the field and time with staff and other dogs daily, we have great hopes for Waldo and Sheba and we will keep you posted.
As you can see from this photo, they are still underweight, but they are being given extra food daily until their weight stabilizes. Sheba has started to play with Waldo, and warm up to the other dogs too.
Sheba is starting to play with Waldo, but you can still see her ribs. That will change!
For all the updates on dogs who still need help from the OAS situation, keep up on Robert Pregulman’s Seattle Dog Spot blog. He is compiling happy ending stories and posting listings of dogs who still need help, as well as all the most current links to help them.
We’ve made it back to Virginia, but not all the way back. This was Day 4 of the drive from AZ to the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, Virginia with former Devore Shepherds Marty and Princess (aka Waldo and Sheba).
Princess is—if not feral—on the super shy list, a wallflower at the school dance if you will. She gave the poor vet and his assistant in AZ hell just trying to get her sedated in order to give her shots and an exam for a health certificate. A simple thank you doesn’t seem like enough for what they went through, because they went above and beyond in both seeing us on short notice AND mud wrestling with Princess to get her in compliance for the trip. (the mud wrestling part is figurative…it didn’t really happen…no need for more rumors.)
[Tamira Thayne forces the dogs to MUDWRESTLE! Wearing Pink Tuttus! She’s the cruelest woman in the WORLD! I knew it.]
We had two drivers (Tamira Thayne and Robin Budin), and if we were like ‘real’ transporters we would have taken turns driving and sleeping; but instead we broke up the trip into three 600 mile legs, a 200 mile leg the first day since we got a late start, leaving us with the remaining 400 miles tomorrow.
It’s been emotionally and physically exhausting, and we hope someone reminds us to NEVER do that again.
In case we forget.
We’re so tired we can barely keep our eyes open to type; ‘screw it’ to checking e-mails.
If we never see the hotel chains we stayed in for the sake of the dogs again, we will be forever grateful, but they served their purpose and we made it through.
We developed our own little system, in fact. We’d jump out and check out the room, logistically figuring out which crate would go where before bringing the dogs in, still in their crates. Then we’d quickly unload the van, set out the pee pads in the designated ‘poody zone’ and let the dogs out of the crates to stretch their legs, eat, and get familiar with the room.
Every day they’ve become more comfortable with the routine, and each day they’ve let their guards down more and more until, finally, today, we got to see Princess laying on the floor to nap (she always napped in the crate before) AND ripping the stuffing out of her first squeaky toy.
Marty just couldn’t be any cuter or more social, and aside from some basic housetraining and of course obedience training, he can quickly find a home where he will be loved and treasured.
Wow! Enjoy these last pics from the trip. We’ll take some arrival pics and video tomorrow if the weather permits.
Thanks to everyone who supported us and these dogs.
And remember. Remind us NEVER to do that again. In case we forget.
Sometimes the pee pad area doubles as a play zone. They get confused!
Marty makes himself at home on the bed. That boy is just too precious!
Princess lets down her hair enough to rip the stuffing out of her first toy
She FINALLY feels comfortable enough to nap on the floor
On Day Three of the Interminable Road Trip to VA form AZ, we have made it to near the Tennessee border. We are driving only 600 miles per day, because although Marty quickly learned how to walk on a leash, Princess is just too feral for that. Therefore we are using puppy pads to potty train them in the hotel rooms (as they lived in a crate for 1.5 years, they naturally think they are SUPPOSED to go in the crate, so that makes housetraining more difficult.)
We’re happy to report on Day Three they are already BOTH solely using the puppy pads in the hotel room, and so now it’s only a matter of walking those pads out toward the yard at the center and we will have two new housetrained doggies!
They are obviously super smart little babies.
We will be back at the center Saturday afternoon, in plenty of time to get them situated before the afternoon walk in the field, which we can’t wait to see. Marty will probably get to join in on that fun, but Princess will have to spend time getting used to the dog yard and integrated with the pack before she graduates to the big field.
We created this video of their progress today, and you can watch Marty running and playing in the hotel room, so adorable. http://youtu.be/90f8SCvY3BE
We are mostly out of the loop on other progress for the dogs as a whole, but here are some links of recent interest:
Marty and Princess continue their progress across the country, and our second night in a motel with these precious babies makes us fall even further in love with them.
We’ve been in contact with some of the folks who knew them before as the Devore Shepherds, and have gotten their previous vet records to us, for which we are very grateful.
We welcome anyone who wants to visit them to come to the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, VA at anytime. Give us a call at 757-357-9292 for more info.
We saw at least two more of the Devore Shepherds there, and they were much shyer than these two. One hadn’t come out of the box at all while we were there, and the other came out just a little bit. We are hoping there is someone who will step up for these poor dogs. One looks very similar to Marty, and the female we didn’t get a good look at because she wouldn’t come out.
Marty and Princess are just chillin’ in the hotel room tonight, having eaten and drank their fill of water and high quality kibble.
Here are some pics of Day Two of wonder at the real world by two dogs who were just released from Doggie Hell.
Marty is more and more comfortable, and starting to enjoy play and scratches.
Princess is still much shyer, but we are very encouraged by her progress. She likes to be near us, and she’s starting to investigate the toy scene and wonder what they are.
Doesn’t take Marty long to decide the bed is a good idea. He might even use the remote if he feels like it.
Is that a precious face or what?
For the first time tonight, Princess’ mouth dropped open in a signal of relaxation. Yay! Progress.
Princess chooses to nap in the open crate because she’s still afraid to trust, but she will continue to make strides.
DDB was asked to compromise on Sonny. Robin feeds Sonny through the kennel in AZ.
Dogs Deserve Better’s Robin Budin was promised by Guardian of Rescue’s Rob Misseri as soon as he knew the dogs would be coming to them that DDB would be getting Sonny returned to us—just like every other group who sent dogs to Steve Markwell and OAS and requested return of the dogs.
We asked for no special favors.
GOR’s Robert Misseri then spoke to Tamira Thayne’s husband Joe on the phone New Year’s Eve, reassuring him before Tamira even left for the trip to AZ that DDB would be getting Sonny back, and understood from that conversation that she was headed to AZ the next day.
Tamira Thayne spoke to Rob Misseri on the trip west and it was once again confirmed that Sonny would be coming to DDB. This conversation occurred on January 1, 2014, during which Tamira was told that this had been the major sticking point in negotiations with Markwell, but that ‘he had fought for us.’
When Tamira arrived in AZ on Saturday January 4th, Rob called her and asked for a compromise, saying Markwell was calling him nonstop and ‘threatening to go to the media’ (Please…DO!) or ‘take back the rest of the dogs for breach of contract.’
That’s when Thayne was told that Misseri signed a deal with Markwell that DDB would not get Sonny in exchange for turning over all the dogs to GOR.
Wouldn’t you think this small—yet highly relevant—detail would have been best discussed with DDB BEFORE Tamira Thayne rented a van and drove 2400 miles across country to pick up the dog her organization fought so hard for?
In the spirit of cooperation, Tamira Thayne agreed that ownership of Sonny could instead be turned over to a dog trainer DDB knows in New York, who wishes to have his name kept out of it until Sonny is safely on site and he has a chance to evaluate him. This is a trainer we trust and who feels he can make progress with Sonny. We also knew we would be kept ‘in the loop’ with him, which we certainly feel we need and deserve.
This was a compromise we could all live with.
For us it has always been about Sonny’s safety and well-being, and as long as we know he is in a safe place and he will be worked with and trained and we can get updates on him, we will accept him going to another organization.
DDB agreed to pay for another transport for Sonny with Pat Webb, who was driving other dogs back east, and we also intended to pay for his health certificate, shots, and vet care before leaving today on a transport.
Ostensibly all the paperwork is done with this New York trainer and he is approved, making Sonny legally the trainer’s dog at this point.
When it came time to put a collar and leash on Sonny this morning, Robin Budin volunteered to be the one to go in his kennel to do it. Unfortunately when she did so, Sonny became very dominant, and although he didn’t bite her, he jumped up on her repeatedly and growled. It was determined that he couldn’t safely be transported to the vet without calming medication, and he would have to be transported east another time when a vet could come to the site and medicate and then give his shots and do an exam and health certificate right there.
Princess and Marty, we believe them to be the formerly Sheba and Waldo, tentatively take their first steps out of the crate and into a real room
We had a tough time with Princess and Marty at the vet, due to their fear of humans. Since they’ve sat in crates for the past year and a half in a warehouse in Forks, Washington, they have obviously not improved in any of the ways feral dogs often do, learning to live with and even thrive in the company of humans.
Marty did better than expected, but Princess was quite a nightmare, and we are super grateful to both Dr. Sites and vet tech Jeri at the Mohave Animal Hospital for seeing us on short notice and taking on the tough challenge of vetting Princess. Both dogs were given sedatives in order to give them their shots, clip their nails, clean their ears, and express their glands before the trip. Oh, and get health certificates of course!
Since we got a late start and were anxious to get the dogs out of the crate and into a hotel room, we made it only a couple hundred miles east today. We hope to make it to VA by Saturday, and we are beyond excited for Marty and Princess to start their wonderful new lives at the Good Newz Rehab Center.
There’s nothing like the joy of watching a feral dog start to play, interact with humans, and become part of the pack. Each milestone thrills and delights those who fall in love with these little guys, and they become a big part of your heart.
If you missed photos of the lives our dogs lead at the center, visit the previous blog where Thayne posted many photos of our dogs and their way of life. Each dog gets two walks a day in the fenced 8-acre field, where they may run and play with the other dogs for ten minutes per group. They have four fenced yards and two doggie doors, and they rotate to spend time in the front office for more socialization with our staff and guests.
We challenge each and every person who has participated in the smear campaign against DDB and Tamira Thayne to visit our Good Newz Rehab Center and see for yourself how our dogs live. We feel ashamed for you that you undertake such actions against a group who works so hard on behalf of chained dogs and treats our dogs better than 90-95% of the facilities in America. Most of you we don’t even know and you have never been to our facility, so how would you have the first clue about the destructive lies you spread?
Don’t want to take our word for it?
How about a mobile vet who’s been to our facility at least a dozen or more times, and has seen every facet of our facility and our dogs: “I have been caring for the dogs at Dogs Deserve Better for a year and a half now. As a veterinarian, I can tell you that you could not ask for a better rescue organization to care for dogs. Their facility is immaculate, their dogs are all extremely well cared for and pampered. They are completely cared for medically. I highly recommend you visit the facility and see for yourself. I will be happy to provide you with any further information you need on behalf of this wonderful organization.”—Dr. Leslie Dragon, Veterinarian for Dogs Deserve Better
Since Guardians of Rescue put up a blog post today calling Sonny “Our Boy Sonny” (even though he has been signed over to the dog trainer in NY) we assume this means they will now take all financial and logistical responsibility for vetting and transport of Sonny to NY instead of Dogs Deserve Better? We believe they are making it pretty clear we are not welcome or needed anymore in his treatment and care.
While we express disappointment in the fact that Markwell was again allowed to call the shots and the way the controversy was handled by Rob Misseri, we still support Guardians of Rescue in rehoming all the dogs, and appreciate that they stepped forward to take ownership when needed. We know it’s a difficult job, and we believe it’s the right thing for DDB to do to continue to stand behind their efforts on behalf of these dogs.
Enjoy some more photos of Marty and Princess today, as they learn what it’s like to be REAL DOGS for the first time in their lives.
Despite all the pain that has come to DDB from this experience, we would not take any of it back. We believe we played a very strong role in freeing the dogs of OAS, and if some people are so cruel as to spend all their time trying to destroy us, that has to be on them, not us. We know what we did, and we know who we are and what we stand for.
Thank you to our supporters for standing behind us and appreciating our efforts on behalf of these dogs. We love and appreciate you right back.
Marty takes a good sniff to see what this whole new world is about
The pair, we believe they are siblings, stand together to see what we’re up to.
He’s peeing on the crate (which of course he thinks is where he’s SUPPOSED to go), and she’s sticking her head in the trash. Yay, they’re DOGS!
Marty finally wears himself out and lays down on the floor to sleep. Can you imagine getting to sleep inside a clean environment where you can feel safe, stretch out, and RELAX after all this time? Marty says Thank You and Goodnight, all.
Tamira Thayne loads up a van at the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, VA for the drive west to pick up Sonny
Dogs Deserve Better is very excited to announce we are on our way to pick up Sonny from the Guardians of Rescue staging site in Arizona. We have been in contact with them throughout this ordeal, and appreciate all they are currently doing on behalf of the 124 dogs released from OAS and Sonny.
Sonny looks to be half the size he was when he went to OAS
This was a photo of Sonny on the chain
We’ve received this photo of Sonny that is so different as to appear to be a completely different dog, but we are assured by Shari Forst, who got Cream back from the same situation last year, that this is pretty normal:
“Many people until this day tell me the dog I saw in the crate on the OAS page was not Cream, you have to understand EVERYTHING atrophies from no exercise and confinement 24/7. The tendons in their heads shrink. I wasn’t certain myself the photo I saw was Cream because he had a massive glorious pit bull head before he was sent there, but I knew his eye was misshapen from an operation he had and when I zoomed in I saw his eyes. And along with the despair, lifelessness and hopeless look I saw the spot that left his eye droopy and then I was sure it was him.”
Plus, the girl who played a part in rescuing Sonny from the chain and asked us to get involved to get Sonny out of there, had this to say: “I have meet Sonny and this is his face just really thin body!”
Here’s a comparison photo as well that someone created showing the spots the dog appears to be the same:
Comparison of before and after photos of Sonny, not sure who created it, but thank you.
Tamira Thayne left the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, Virginia, on New Years Day, which is a fitting start to a brand new year and brand new life for Sonny. Sonny will join our dogs at the Good Newz Rehab Center for housetraining and socialization with both dogs and people. Our center is currently Virginia State Vet approved for up to 13 dogs at a time—until we build an addition which will double the amount of dogs we can help—where dogs are housetrained, socialized, vetted, and adopted out into new, inside homes and families.
Anyone is welcome to visit the dogs at our center at 1915 Moonlight Rd., Smithfield, VA 23430. Our open hours are 10 a.m.-2 p.m. daily, and any other time by appointment. We even have a guest room with its own bath for overnight volunteers. Give us a call at 757-357-9292 to set up your visit or with any other questions.
Letter from VA State Vet with approval for DDB Center at the site of Vick’s former dogfighting compound.
In 2013 we rehabbed and adopted out 40 dogs from our center, as well as dogs from foster homes in other states. Sonny stands an excellent chance of getting his very own home in 2014, and we have a behavioral therapist who comes in to work with our dogs twice a week, as well as staff who cares for and trains our dogs daily.
Tamira will meet Robin Budin in Arizona for the trip back across country to the Good Newz Rehab Center. See some great shots of our center, below:
The sign and front of the Good Newz Rehab Center
The front of the Good Newz Rehab Center
Our new fencing at the GNRC
Photo of our fenced dog yards at the GNRC
Michelle plays ball with Ginger
Center dog Jada, still waiting for her forever home
Staff member Jay plays ball with Marley in the field
Marley loves to play ball! She is now in a home of her own
Beautiful and touching photo of man and dog walking in the field in companionable silence
Dogs running in the 8 acre fenced field at the Good Newz Rehab Center
Former center dog Kylie inside the home
Marley get serious about catching that ball
Staff member Michelle gets Copper and Mabel into a perfect ‘down.’
Dogs at the center just celebrated Christmas, take a look at this link to see center and other DDB foster dogs with their gifts. When you imagine going from a life with NOTHING, left in a crate in a dark, dank, putrid smelling warehouse to a life inside a home where you will get two walks a day in an 8-acre fenced field, and time outside in large yards plus two squares a day and all the water you can drink, we are hopeful that Sonny will have to pinch himself he’s so much happier!
Every dog in our Holiday gift giving program received not only packages of gifts from donors and supporters wishing them a Merry Christmas, but a $100 Petco or Petsmart gift card for foster parents and center staff to purchase whatever they needed.
Tre poses at the Good Newz Rehab Center. It’s like a picture postcard!
George checks out the tree at the center. George got a great gift for the holidays, his own home!
Jules went from life chained to a picnic table with no doghouse, to wearing her holiday finest. She also got a home for the holidays.
Jules says “Wow, that is a mighty fine bone! Where do I start.”
Jules got so done tuckered out after all the gift opening she feel asleep on her new bed
It will come as no surprise to most of you that Markwell didn’t want Dogs Deserve Better to get Sonny back. We should probably take that as a compliment, because if he blames us in part for his downfall then we obviously did something right by standing in front of that warehouse for two weeks in the snow and rain with our signs—Tamira even getting arrested in the practice of free speech—for the dogs trapped inside.
Tamira and Robin stand in front of the pink metal warehouse containing as many as 120 dogs with their signs requesting a tour and to see Sonny
Tami is handcuffed and taken to jail for the ‘crime’ of continuing to exercise her rights to free speech after being slapped with a bogus restraining order by Markwell. While the dogs in the warehouse still cried for help.
Some Markwell supporters are going on the Guardians of Rescue page and asking them not to release Sonny to us. Let’s not allow these small voices who seek only to harm Dogs Deserve Better to keep Sonny from being released to the group who fought hard for his freedom. To our knowledge all other dogs who have rescues wanting them safely returned to them have gotten or will get their dogs back. We cannot allow this smear campaign to harm Sonny and the rescue who fought for him with its vindictiveness.
Please visit the Guardians of Rescue facebook page, and give them a big THANK YOU, not only for all they’ve done for all 124 of these dogs, but for releasing Sonny to Dogs Deserve Better so he can move on to the life he deserves to have.
Seattle Dog Spot created this fundraiser to help the Guardians of Rescue with much-needed funds, and it is being matched up to $1000 by seattledogspot.com. It has hit its total, but we’re pretty sure you can still donate, because a lot more is needed out there; it takes a lot of funds for an undertaking of this magnitude.
I’ve seen a lot in my 13 years of dog activism. Most I would do anything to unsee, and I’ve been arrested instead of the bad guys five times to date, but who’s counting.
Through everything I’ve seen, nothing—no, nothing—can compare to what just went down with the Olympic Animal Sanctuary, and the way it truly took a village to bring these dogs to freedom.
Officials in Washington were all about playing pass the buck. While the police were NEVER mean or rude to me in Forks—and I genuinely liked them as people—they failed these dogs. Miserably.
Their big excuse was “we have no probable cause for a warrant” because the evidence was out of date. Yet they made not one single attempt to GET probable cause, and every piece of evidence signifying probable cause was poo pooed and termed ‘not enough.’
Make no mistake about it, EVERY SINGLE DOG LIVING IN A CRATE IN THAT BUILDING SIGNIFIED ONE COUNT OF ANIMAL CRUELTY FOR LACK OF SPACE. I don’t have a handle on exactly how many dogs that would be, but my guess is in the neighborhood of 80 dogs.
That alone is 80 counts of cruelty, without all the hubbub of vet checks, etc., which would have brought at least another 80 counts.
If that were a known meth lab inside the warehouse, would the Forks police have sat by the wayside and said “Nope, no way to get in. Guess they’ll have to just keep making meth and millions for the rest of their lives?”
No, pretty sure they’d have figured out a little probable cause, gotten a warrant, and did what had to be done.
I never had the direct pleasure of speaking to Mayor Monohon or City Attorney Rod Fleck, because they were the only ones who never responded to our requests for a meeting. They also ensured we didn’t get ONE MINUTE to speak when we showed up at the town council meeting, closing the meeting without batting an eyelash in our direction.
They ignored us the same way they ignored the cries of the 125 dogs sitting in a disgusting unheated warehouse for at least three years; these two need some villain hats of their own, or maybe just cowardly dunce hats and banished to the corner for the same three years.
I’d like to think they are crying into their Christmas dinners today for all the guilt they should bear for what was done to those dogs, but instead they are probably eating, drinking, and sharing merrydom with family members like they haven’t a care in the world.
They complained about activists coming to their town, sending them thousands of e-mails, calling them all day long, yet they fail to realize that all happened because they DIDN’T POLICE THEIR OWN.
We would not have been there had the Forks police, Mayor, and City Attorney done their jobs.
While they played pass the buck, dog advocates and activists got creative, got courageous, and passed the baton until the battle was won.
This was not a case of any single hero, but each stage of the game had a person or persons who took hold of that baton and went out and fought for those dogs like it was a sword and their very lives depended on it.
Because 125 of them did.
Yes, I saw plenty of pissing contests and a fair share of egos at play, but I firmly believe that underneath it all, each person or group did our part to bring this happy ending to fruition for what I hope was 124 dogs who got off that semi yesterday ‘in a secret location somewhere out west.’
[By the way, I think the time for secrecy is over, don’t you? Isn’t that what got us all into this mess in the first place? What we need is transparency, through and through.]
This account of who ran with the baton is from my perspective, and I apologize to any major players that didn’t hit my radar screen. I’m sure there were plenty, but some of us never crossed paths.
First was Pati Winn, and if anyone deserves the Hero Award, it has to be her. Without that first person to take the stand and say “NO MORE” a cause has nothing to build from. Pati and her daughter volunteered at the ‘sanctuary’ for a year, and did their best for the dogs, but she just couldn’t take it anymore, for obvious reasons. She is the one who started the OAS-Life Inside the Sanctuary facebook page, and I believe if anyone should write a book about what played out here, it is Pati. She was the first domino, the one to start the chain reaction, and she deserves our utmost respect for it.
I’m fuzzy on these details, because it was before DDB came into play, but Animal Rescue Corps and Scotland Haisley came along next, made a case of the evidence, and presented it to Forks Police.
An officer did investigate, found PLENTY for a warrant to go back in, but politics came into play, and in the end Forks Police, mayor, and city attorney sat on the evidence, doing nothing.
This investigation created plenty of fodder for dog advocates to not only believe that something wasn’t right but to KNOW that Pati Winn and the others who had joined her in speaking out were telling the truth.
Neighbors filed complaints, others filed complaints, but still Forks did nothing. What Winn and her supporters hoped was an end to the nightmare for OAS dogs instead became just a ship in the night—that sailed without rescuing the doggies in distress—leaving those who cared feeling helpless and hopeless.
Almost a year dragged by, yet momentum was slowly building, although it was almost imperceptible at times. I remember reading something about the case in passing, and then read the Inside Bainbridge article that to my perception did great damage to the campaign, because the author made it seem like it wasn’t really that bad and Markwell was working on it.
That what he told everyone…for years.
By September the OAS fever was building, and DDB’s Robin Budin posted the OAS page thinking DDB should get involved. We immediately took heat for it, and I backed down, thinking without seeing it firsthand, I didn’t want to defame anyone.
But then I went and took a good look at the OAS-Life Inside the Sanctuary page. Wow! Were my eyes opened. You can’t make that shit up, and if it weren’t true they would have given up long ago.
Truth wants to be told, truth has a way of hanging on by its very fingernails, when all seems lost, because it needs to be free and needs to be known.
I started to think that if DDB continued to turn a blind eye to this, we were no better than the groups I had lost respect for because they never took a stand on the hard stuff. I didn’t want to be like that, and when there was this amount of evidence, I felt DDB needed to take the stand too.
Then came the Facebook message telling me DDB had placed a dog there in 2012. My heart sank. Since our reps worked very independently, I often wasn’t aware of each individual case around the country, but when I investigated my old e-mails and starting putting two and two together, I realized that my group not only SHOULD get involved because it was the right thing, but we were directly culpable for one of the dogs being there.
Ugh. That didn’t sit well.
Sonny was a chained dog that was rescued by DDB reps and volunteers near Seattle, placed in a foster home, bit his foster dad, and was then transferred to OAS, ostensibly for ‘rehab and training.’ I’m not throwing out blame on any of the players involved, because they believed the sham, and I could never say I wouldn’t have been taken too. Markwell only got all these dogs because he excelled at making people BELIEVE he was an expert and worked extensively to rehab all these dogs.
They believed they were doing their best for Sonny; but what he got was life in a crate instead.
Robin Budin, our rescue coordinator, wrote numerous e-mails to Markwell, asking for Sonny back, asking if we could help, but never received a response. We then went public with it, and again, no response.
We booked flights for myself and Robin, and scheduled our visit to Forks and the facility for December 4-15. Our best case scenario involved getting inside, seeing the conditions, and working with Markwell to release dogs and get Sonny into a foster home and along his way to rehab. Our worst-case scenario involved two weeks of meetings with officials and protests.
In November, all kinds of dominos began to line up for the OAS dogs. Maggie McDowell, who formed a Facebook page called Protest OAS, organized a substantial protest for a town hall meeting, and they marched through town, being heckled all the way. At this town hall meeting, donor Sherri Maddox stood and testified that she’d given Markwell $50,000 to build a sanctuary on some donated land, and that he had instead spent the money elsewhere. She believed she had given him money which just allowed him to bring in more dogs, and that truth haunted her.
Markwell was hit with two lawsuits in late November and early December, with the baton passed to Animal Lawyer Adam Karp and his clients AARF, who sued to get Leroy back, and Sherri Maddox, who sued for the return of her $50,000.
When Robin Budin and I arrived and were passed the baton, we were two women who’d flown 3000 miles to seek freedom for Sonny and the others. We simply asked for a tour of the facility and to see Sonny, but instead were met with cease and desist letters, signs saying “Genital Warts” and “Herpes”, and the next day a restraining order from Markwell.
This restraining order was given in violation of the U.S. constitution, and interfered with our right to practice free speech. I protested anyway, drawing my fifth arrest in my fight for dogs, and spending three hours in the Forks city jail.
Apparently Forks police ARE capable of making arrests, just not the ones they SHOULD be making.
We publicized what we saw at the facility each day, and were horrified that not only was Markwell not going inside to care for the dogs, but no one else was either. We met with officials from the county and the city police, and Robin Budin did a great job building a behind-the-scenes community with others involved and discussing strategy on a daily basis.
Next to carry the baton was Seattledogspot.com’s Robert Pregulman, who came out to take a look for himself. He had written about this story sporadically, but after getting involved and standing in front of the warehouse for two days, he became the next domino to insist on his daily blogs that these dogs be freed, and be freed immediately.
Robert was sent many tips and photos through his journalistic efforts, publicized them, and played his part in the takedown of OAS. His publicity of the conditions INSIDE the facility at the end, when no one was getting in, was priceless to ensuring everyone that nothing had indeed changed and remained just as horrendously cruel as photos from the previous year showed.
Maggie McDowell and Protest OAS and protestors following DDB’s facebook journey continued the pressure each and every day in December after December 4th. Debi Esposito even flew out from New Jersey to be with us, and was the only one who could get close enough to film my arrest. She stood alone outside OAS for two hours that afternoon.
Maggie’s dedication earned her an ‘alleged’ attack by Markwell, when he kicked out her vehicle light, pounded on her windshield, and screamed at her to ‘Get the Eff out of Here.’ Allegedly. She was terrified and Markwell earned himself an arrest and release from the Forks city jail.
Ironically, Maggie received a restraining order against Markwell saying he had to be 50 ft. from her, but he received a restraining order of 500 ft. from the two woman who merely stood in front of OAS with signs.
Forks at its finest.
Adam Karp and AARF won Leroy back in court on December 20th, and the next day Markwell disappeared with the remaining 124 dogs, just before a large scheduled protest in front of the warehouse.
Scheduled protests against board member Diane Hawkins played a part too, and deserve a toss of the baton for the social pressure they brought. As the dogs of OAS belong NOT to Steve Markwell as he asserts, but to the organization as a whole, this makes other board members culpable and responsible for the actions of Markwell. It was their duty to oust Markwell and free the dogs, but the fact that board member Diane Hawkins is his mother may have muddied the waters, allowing him to control every outcome of the dogs’ lives.
The final toss of the baton goes to Guardians of Rescue, because they played good cop to our bad cop. Robert Misseri somehow talked Markwell into actually giving up the dogs, and yesterday he showed up somewhere out west in AZ/NV with the trailer full of dogs. I confess that I didn’t see it coming, and I am beyond grateful that he actually followed through with his pledge to Misseri. I am still in shock, but it’s a good shock for once.
Much will be speculated as to who or what was the final straw leading to the release of the dogs, but I contend it was the village that made it happen in the end, and everyone in the village today needs to pat themselves on the back and kiss their dog. We did it!
No word yet on the condition of the dogs, or if all 124 dogs are there. We do know that dogs showed up, and we are hoping and praying Sonny is alive and among them.
More will come out on all this, and although this is the end of the absolute hell part of the story, it’s only the beginning of the journey for dogs who already had issues before reaching the crates of OAS to take the long walk back to recovery.
All throughout this insanity, I have to give HUGE kudos to the dog lovers across the country who rose up in support too; while they couldn’t come and stand with us in person, they made the phone calls, wrote the letters, sent the e-mails. Your contribution was astronomical and invaluable. To those who donated to help DDB fund our trip across country, thank you. You helped make this possible too.
To the dogs who are free today due to all the groups and individuals who took their turn at the helm, we’re sorry it took us so long, and we are so grateful you are alive.
On this Christmas morning, freedom is your gift, and your freedom is our gift.
Bless you all.
—Tamira Thayne, CEO and Founder, Dogs Deserve Better
The reward offered by Dogs Deserve Better has turned up no verified credible information to date, although the reward itself is now up to $2500 in pledges for information as to the whereabouts of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs.
If you have confirmed information as to Markwell’s whereabouts or final destination, and it is NOT the one he is scheduled to show up at Tuesday, December 24, in a deal with Guardians of Rescue, the reward money is still up for grabs.
124 dogs are depending on you for their very lives.
Our one promising lead seems to confirm that the dogs were loaded up and are traveling south.
We don’t know if that is good news or bad news, because if they were hunkered down locally they would be harder to find, but they have a greater chance of death enroute if they are truly traversing the countryside, without access to water and food. Forget about exercise.
This recent article by the Peninsula Daily News states that progress is slowed to the secret destination organized by Guardians of Rescue, because “Markwell is the only driver and has been stopping to feed and water the dogs, and to take the dogs out of the trailer for breaks.”
Wait a second…I’m getting deja vu…is this the same kind of walks and food and water Markwell gave them at the warehouse at 1021 Russell Rd. in Forks, Washington without stepping a foot inside the facility?
You don’t think I’m dumb enough to fall for that line twice, do you? Don’t answer that.
Come on, people. One man is driving 124 dogs in a semi (how they are fitting in there is beyond me), and he is stopping and somehow managing to give each of them food and water and WALKS at rest stops along the way?
And no one is noticing poor conditions of dogs in the trailer when he does so?
As dog lovers around the nation, especially those of us who are trying to get dogs released back to our rescues, wait with bated breath for what we still pray will be a Christmas miracle, Markwell continues to be the hero in his own mind by playing keep away with dogs that don’t legally belong to him but to the nonprofit he was tasked with representing.
When Robin Budin and myself went to Forks, Washington in early December to advocate for the release of Sonny back to our rescue, I was dismayed and appalled by the conditions I found at the supposed sanctuary.
Even more appalled to see that Markwell rarely stepped foot in his own ‘facility,’ let alone trained dogs or got them outside for exercise.
And most appalled when I read the comments on the Peninsula Daily News articles at the amount of people still sticking up for Markwell and claiming he’s an awesome guy and we are all just big meanies attacking a poor innocent man.
I really wish I had some of that kool-aid he’s been feeding the good citizens of Forks and his bevy of internet trolls.
I could take over the world! Mwahahahaha….
One of the Forks citizens who treated us badly when we were protesting now understands what the real story is. She sent an apology to Robin that said this “…that building was disgusting, full of large rats and filth. I’m so sorry we were all sticking up for Steve and talking on his behalf. He made us all look stupid and let all of us take the rap for it. This is an apology, and I’m very sorry for not standing with you and the other protestors in support of the dogs.”
Below is a good synopsis of the events as they have taken place, and an overview of the different kinds of hoarders, which I think is important to understand.
[This synopsis doesn’t seem to be showing up, perhaps due to privacy settings. It can be found on the OAS-Life Inside the Sanctuary page on the ‘posts by others.’ It’s by Laura Koerbeer. Entitled ‘Twilight to Nightmare’.]
We went there to advocate on Sonny’s behalf, but we cared about the welfare and safety of every single dog in that warehouse. We rejoiced with the rest of the world when Leroy made it out. We are thinking of Sonny, praying he’s still alive, and hoping for a chance to make up for the mistakes of those in DDB who believed the OAS scam.
Beyond Sonny, we pray for every single dog riding in that semi at this moment. We only pray you can survive long enough to make it to freedom, because that’s what each and every one of you deserves.
Not just freedom, but the love of a home and family and the rehabilitation needed to make all this happen for you. Hold on just a little longer for those of us who love you from afar, thousands of us by now.
Here are some photos of the warehouse trash once the dogs were removed:
“Water” at the OAS warehouse
Room after crates removed at the OAS warehouse
Is this really water?
Garbage inside the warehouse, sure to attract a large rat population
More garbage. All photos in this blog courtesy seattledogspot.com
UPDATE: Thanks to pledges from Seattle Dog Spot and other supporters of the OAS dogs, the reward for information leading to the whereabouts of these dogs has been upped to $2000.00.
This is a large amount of money, and we are hopeful that there is someone in Forks, Washington who knows where the dogs are and will do the right thing and let us know where they have been taken. They could be suffering greatly at this time, and crossing state lines with a truck load of dogs without health certificates is not only dangerous but illegal.
The dogs of Olympic Animal Sanctuary have been stealthily moved during the night, perhaps for weeks, but definitely all but a few have gone in the last two days.
If there was EVER any doubt in anyone’s mind that OAS is not operating as a 501c3 nonprofit is legally required to operate, this fact alone should be enough to seal the deal.
Dogs Deserve Better has been offered two donations for a private investigator to find out where they have been moved to, but it may be faster and easier to simply offer a reward for this information.
Rescue groups like DDB who have placed dogs with OAS under the false impression that this was indeed a sanctuary will now be frantic as to the welfare of their dogs.
Are they sitting out in a field somewhere, still in their crates? Have they been dumped? Are they crammed in Markwell’s semi, without food or water and ventilation? Are they being hidden in another warehouse away from protestors and those caring enough to stand up and say NO MORE?
If ANYONE out there has credible information that will lead to the location of these dogs, please call us ASAP at 814-207-4586, and leave a message. Or, send us an e-mail to email@example.com. If your information leads us to the dogs, we will gladly pay you the reward of $500.00. Your name will not be released and you will remain anonymous.
If any other groups wants to offer money to grow the reward pot, we will be happy to throw in our lot with yours. Just let us know.
For the disturbing, just released article from Seattledogspot.com, visit this link. The new photos taken are tear-inducing, and confirm, for the 100th time, what has been going on behind the closed doors of this supposed ‘sanctuary.’
If you have a heart and soul and know information about the location and current welfare of these dogs, please pass it along to DDB or any of the groups involved ASAP. Thank you.
UPDATE: Confirmation that the dogs are gone exists in these two articles, one from the Peninsula Daily News and one from Seattledogspot.com, who has photos of the empty, disgusting, and garbage-filled warehouse.
Photo of Leroy posted on the OAS-Life Inside the Sanctuary Facebook page
I swear, I’m so excited it’s like I won the lottery, and I had nothing whatsoever to do with Leroy’s freedom win today.
That was all the courage of AARF and Attorney Adam Karp, and I want to thank them on behalf of Dogs Deserve Better and our supporters who are watching this so closely. Thank you, thank you, thank you!
From the OAS-Life Inside the Sanctuary Page: “Transfer of Leroy is to take place at 6:30 at City Hall.
The ruling was that Leroy was a foster and that Olympic Animal Sanctuary does not have the right to keep the dog. There was no case of AARF abandoning the animal as Steve Markwell tried to claim.
We will let you know as soon as Leroy’s paws touch the ground of freedom!”
Leroy’s victory is a victory for all of us who care about the dogs stuffed in crates in this warehouse at 1021 Rusell Rd. in Forks, Washington. He gives us hope, and knowing that ONE of the 125 dogs is now free gives us the strength to continue the fight.
In other news from today, Seattledogspot.com posted another insightful investigative blog about why Markwell’s mother is fair game in the plan to free these dogs. He states, “Since Ms. Hawkins owns the property where these unfortunate dogs are forced to live in filth, OAS pays her $1000 per month in rent. That means over the course of the 6 years and 4 months OAS has operated, Ms. Hawkins has made the tidy sum of $78,000.”
And lastly, Best Friends Animal Society last night released a very thoughtful and measured statement about what and how they are willing to help Markwell. I applaud them for standing WITH the dogs and not allowing themselves to be bullied into anything, but taking a stand and offering what help they can.
We all stand ready to help rescue these dogs, and groups from all over have been stepping up and offering to take one or more of the dogs. When we get the green light, every group who placed dogs there and wants them returned will be chomping at the bit to pick up their dogs and make amends for our errors.
Below is the statement in full from Best Friends:
“Based on the information being reported, the situation at Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS) appears to be quite dire, and we at Best Friends share the deep concern so many of you have about the dogs living there. With a reported 125 dogs having varying levels of behavioral and medical issues in need of placement, the stark truth is that it will take many rescue organizations working together to deal with this situation.
On Tuesday, December 17th, we spoke with Steve Markwell’s attorney and requested detailed information about the dogs at OAS and what Mr. Markwell was asking of Best Friends. We then received a brief email from Mr. Markwell himself on the 18th. Neither interaction provided any specifics about either the dogs (number, condition, temperament, etc.) or about Mr. Markwell’s ultimate intentions. For example, we do not know if he intends to divest himself of all dogs in his care and then permanently close OAS, or if he intends to simply start fresh and begin bringing in new animals once the current population is gone.
Although we have asked for additional details, at this time, we have not received this key information from either Mr. Markwell or his attorney. In our opinion and professional judgment, the best chance for ensuring the welfare of the dogs is for Mr. Markwell to open wide the doors of the facility and allow all qualified organizations to help immediately and unconditionally.
If Mr. Markwell agrees to accept help from all willing and qualified rescues, and if he agrees not to take in any more dogs at his existing facility or any other, here is what we at Best Friends are prepared to do to help:
1. Assuming that there are dogs within the OAS population who can safely live within a group housing environment, we believe we will be able to accept several such dogs at our no-kill sanctuary in Kanab. As usual, we are operating our own sanctuary at capacity, and it would simply be irresponsible of us to take in more dogs than we can safely accommodate. We have limited facilities suitable for dogs who cannot live in group housing. Currently, these facilities are full, and there is already a waiting list of dogs who require that type of living situation.
2. We are willing to network, spreading the word to other like-minded rescue groups about the dogs in need at OAS. In fact, we have already heard from several groups who are willing to help. We are also willing to help with transporting the dogs to qualified groups. We believe that if Mr. Markwell agrees to be transparent and open about the situation at OAS, many more groups will step forward to save lives.
We understand that many of you are eager to see this situation improved for the dogs, and we will make you aware of any opportunities to help them should things evolve.”
Keep protesting! We will NOT give up. Here is where you can find details about Sunday’s protest. Please attend if possible: