While Forks Authorities Played Pass the Buck, Dog Activists Passed the Baton

It could be a made-for-TV movie, and maybe someday soon it will be. (Markwell, just so you’re not confused, you play the villain, not the hero. I know, it’s hard to believe.)

To read a very well-thought out version of the story, hit this link: http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/24/1265171/-From-Twilight-to-Nightmare-to-Hope-a-Christmas-Story

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Their big excuse was “we have no probable cause for a warrant” because the evidence was out of date.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.

http://petfriendsmagazine.files.wordpress.com/2013/12/oas-prr_201312121416111.pdf

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

Advertisements

While we Wait with Bated Breath…Although Baited Breath might Get Us Further

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.

Call us ASAP at 814-207-4586 or e-mail us at dogs@dogsdeservebetter.org. You can also get in touch with Robert at http://www.Seattledogspot.com.

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.”

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131223/news/312239979

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’.]

https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674

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

“Water” at the OAS warehouse

Room after crates removed at the OAS warehouse

Room after crates removed at the OAS warehouse

Is this really water?

Is this really water?

Garbage inside the warehouse, sure to attract a large rat population

Garbage inside the warehouse, sure to attract a large rat population

More garbage. All photos in this blog courtesy seattledogspot.com

More garbage. All photos in this blog courtesy seattledogspot.com

Reward Upped to $2000 for Credible Information as to Whereabouts of OAS Dogs

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.

Initial Post:

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 dogs@dogsdeservebetter.org. 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.’

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/eyewitness-says-almost-all-dogs-at-the-olympic-animal-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.

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/pictures-of-empty-olympic-animal-sanctuary

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131221/news/312219996

Jump Around and Hug Your Dog, Because Today Leroy Won his FREEDOM!

Photo of Leroy posted on the OAS-Life Inside the Sanctuary Facebook page

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.

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131220/NEWS/131229998/controversial-dog-shelter-in-forks-ordered-to-return-pit-bull-to

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.

Read the full article here, and attend the protest if you are in the area and OAS hasn’t released the dogs by then: http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/steve-markwells-mother-makes-big-money-as-owner-of-olympic-animal-sanctuary

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:

https://www.facebook.com/events/648322591892637/

Tamira Thayne

Would you like a little Grey Poupon with that, Mr. Markwell?

This is an ongoing blog about the quest to free Sonny and the other 124 dogs trapped in the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington.

http://dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html

Dogs Deserve Better founder Tamira Thayne and rescue coordinator Robin Budin traveled 3000 miles to Forks, Washington and stayed from December 3-15 in order to advocate for the release of Sonny and the other dogs living in squalid conditions at the warehouse at 1021 Russell Rd.

Read previous blog posts for the history and article links. Articles read and contributing to this post are as follows:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131216/NEWS/312169998/not-fast-enough-protesters-of-dog-shelter-say-of-plans-to-move

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/despite-markwells-statement-suffering-of-dogs-at-olympic-animal-sanctuary-far-from-over

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131218/NEWS/312189982/update-8212-olympic-animal-sanctuary-director-talking-to-groups-in

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/video-of-steve-markwell-inside-olympic-animal-sancturary-april-2013

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/forks-officials-ignored-report-of-abuse-at-olympic-animal-sanctuary-in-april-2013

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131219/news/312199983

From Tamira Thayne, DDB Founder and CEO:

I got back to my home in Virginia Monday, December 16th around noon, after being bumped from a late flight in Charlotte, NC and forced to overnight there and finish the trip in the a.m.

I was slated to appear by phone in Forks for a hearing on my violation of the bogus restraining order that day (the real violation was of my constitutionally protected right to free speech), but it turned out it was postponed until January 13th.

That seems to be all they do in Forks, postpone the hearings until the next month. I, unfortunately, know because I spent most of the day there on Monday, December 9th listening to case after case being postponed until a magical date in January when everything would presumably be postponed again.

Ummm, ok.

So I get home and am immediately rushed into my ‘real’ life back in Virginia, which includes Christmas in only 9 days and me without a single gift bought; and, my husband’s birthday in 3 days, and me without a single gift bought. (Except for that Forks police pen I brought home for him. The man loves pens, what better souvenir than one from the Forks city jail? Yes, they gave it to me, I didn’t steal it.)

Tuesday Joe and I get up early (I so wanted to sleep in just one day) and drive the 200 miles to the DDB Good Newz Rehab Center for Chained and Penned Dogs in Smithfield, Virginia to pay a brief visit, make sure all is running ok under the tutelage of Director of Operations Mark Hyre, and drop off the remainder of a pallet of dog food we had donated.

We’ve been extremely blessed in the past 1.5 years to have had most of our dog food donated, and most of it has been high quality—double bonus. I believe in feeding the best quality food we can afford, and if it is donated and it’s high quality, that’s all the better.

But it wasn’t always that way for us, and it could change in the blink of an eye. One day you have great food donated, the next you’re at the Dollar Store buying the best food your $10 can afford.

And while the dogs’ health may be affected in the end game by run-of-the-mill dog foods, in the short game it’s more important to put food in your rescue dogs’ stomachs than put your nose in the air and say a prim “No thank you, we feed grain free (or raw, or whatever it may be) only.”

I mean, really… if you’re a starving dog, and you actually ENJOY the taste of cat poop anyway, would you rather eat an inferior dog food or no dog food at all?

Pretty sure they’re voting for inferior each and every time.

This image of the dog urine hardened on the top of this crate sitting outside at OAS is all it takes for me.

This image of the dog urine hardened on the top of this crate sitting outside at OAS is all it takes for me to know things are very, very wrong at this warehouse.

And if you live in your own feces and are unlucky enough to be in the bottom crate and live in not only your own urine but also the dog above you’s urine, and you really just want to die anyway, but you have this pesky will to live that keeps you hoping for a better tomorrow, are you insisting on grain free dog food, or will any old dog food do?

In reading Robert Pregulman’s blog posts on Seattledogspot.com, I’ve been repeatedly struck by Markwell’s conversations about dog food. Markwell has email conversations with people about how you must feed high quality diets, he has conversations in the video with the people who he actually allowed into the facility in April 2013 about high quality dog food (while they’re watching dogs they sent there running around in the grass like they’ve never seen it before), and he even requests GRAIN FREE food in this recent article on December 16, 2013: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131216/NEWS/312169998/not-fast-enough-protesters-of-dog-shelter-say-of-plans-to-move

All I can think is, IS THIS GUY BATSHIT CRAZY?

You’re written about in this very same paper daily, and not in a flattering light.  Countless stories, photos, and witness tales intersect and are spread on facebook, on blogs, in newscasts; you’re criticized for your treatment of the dogs in your unheated warehouse, you claim to be unable to feed your dogs because of the protestors, but then you tell the local newspaper that if you want to bring food for the dogs I am holding hostage, make it grain free?

Would you like a little Grey Poupon with that, Mr. Markwell?

Even in the police report, there are photos and talk of boxes of raw chicken necks that are sitting UNREFRIGERATED and people have reported being forced to give the dogs food with maggots in it. Maggots.

What level of sanity requests GRAIN FREE food for dogs you have stuck in crates in their own feces?

I am struck again by this definition of a hoarder that I posted on our webpage about the case at http://dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html.

Relevant points from this paper entitled Animal Hoarding: Slipping into the Darkness of Co-Morbid Animal and Self-Neglect, Jane N. Nathanson, LCSW, LRC, CRC

• Animal hoarding’s distinct characteristics are defined by the following three operational features: (1) having more than the typical number of companion animals; (2) inability to provide even minimal standards of nutrition, sanitation, shelter, and veterinary care, with this neglect often resulting in starvation, illness, and death; and (3) denial of the inability to provide this minimum care and the impact of that failure on the animals, the household and human occupants of the dwelling (Patronek, 1999).

• Problems that occur: (1) numbers of animals in excess of their capacity and/or willingness to consistently provide satisfactory caregiving; (2) the numbers of animals exceed their spatial requirements and interferes with the person’s safe mobility; and/or (3) the numbers of poorly cared for animals are creating an environment that is toxic – i.e. as may be related to bacterial disease, respiratory illness, zoonotic disease, insect and vermin infestation.

• Even if these individuals were offered help to improve themselves or their surroundings, they would likely refuse or at least be highly resistant to making any changes…With deteriorating conditions compromising the health and well being of all involved, animal hoarders become entrenched in a behavior that is extremely resistant to change. Denying any actual or potential risks, they ferociously defend this turf, while being unaware or dismissive of the violations of animal protection laws and public health regulations.

Seems to me, this is exactly what we’re dealing with. Now, how do we fix it when local powers that be are not doing what needs to be done?

Isn’t that the million dollar question.

It’s been very hard to come back this week and resume my normal life, knowing what I’ve seen firsthand and know is happening daily in a warehouse in Forks, Washington.

Sloan on our walk today along the river

Sloan on our walk today along the river

I took my dog Sloan for a walk along our river today, and carried my cat Tuna half the way, because he insists on coming along and then whines about it. I try to release the feelings of anxiety over the Forks situation because I am praying that those who are mediating for the release of the dogs will be successful.

It’s hard for me not to feel guilty that my dog Sloan has it so good. He has two kuranda beds with comfy blankets that are washed as needed, he is king of the household and gets all the doggie attention here, and he gets to run off leash on our walks along the river and stream.

Sloan on his chain, before he was freed by DDB

Sloan on his chain, before he was freed by DDB

He didn’t always have it good. Sloan was rescued from a chain by Dogs Deserve Better in 2011, and I know he (and EVERY dog) deserves every bit of good that is in his world these days.

Sonny before rescue, when he ended up in an even worse place

Sonny before rescue, and now he has ended up in an even worse place

BUT SO DO THE DOGS TRAPPED AT OAS. So does Sonny, who was rescued from his chain and then landed in a place worse than hell.

I hear snippets and rumors that the dogs are being given up and it’s still in the works, but nothing has yet been substantiated.

Meanwhile, I implore you NOT TO STOP PROTESTING, NOT TO STOP WRITING, NOT TO STOP ADVOCATING FOR THESE DOGS. We cannot, as we are their only voices.

There is a large protest scheduled for this Sunday, December 22, 2013. What better gift for the dogs of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary than to take time out of your busy schedule and go to Forks to protest on their behalf? Read more about it here:

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/protest-against-olympic-animal-sanctuary-set-for-this-sunday

Is Markwell Really going to Give Up the Dogs?

Well, that remains to be seen, doesn’t it.

It was all the scuttlebutt today. Word on the net is that Markwell is now set to give up the dogs that belong to OAS, but of course he has stipulations.

Here’s an article about it, and it contains his full statement: http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131214/news/312149975/olympic-animal-sanctuary-to-close-its-operator-says

Poor guy, just so beat up by us mean old protestors who have nothing better to do with our time…

If you’re tempted to believe him, first take a gander at this photo I snapped at the warehouse at 1021 Russell Rd. in Forks, Washington, today before leaving the area. What do you think that is on top of the dog crate?

Pretty sure it’s hardened, crystalized dog piss. That means this was a bottom crate, and the dog in the crate on top pissed in his or her crate daily and it ran down and eventually formed this crust.

You don’t get a crust like this from a day or a week. That took awhile to form.

Still pitying Steve, or maybe there’s now a spot of pity for whatever dogs were forced to urinate daily in their bed and their living quarters and the dogs who were unlucky enough to be BELOW the dog forced to urinate in their bed and their living quarters?

Crate with hardened dog piss #1

Crate with hardened dog piss #1

A closer version because God Knows this is something you've always wanted to see up close and personal.

A closer version because God Knows this is something you’ve always wanted to see up close and personal.

Same crate from the other side, photo taken earlier in the trip before it was moved, allowing the front side to be exhibited

Same crate from the other side, photo taken earlier in the trip before it was moved, allowing the front side to be exhibited

Let’s see a show of hands, who believes the lies now? Anyone?

Steve Markwell was seen going into the warehouse for a total of 4 minutes this morning. That was the ONLY time since we arrived on the 4th that any of us have seen him enter the building. Most days there is one kid who enters for maybe an hour at a time and then comes back out and sits in his truck.

Is it too cold to stay in there? Too smelly? Maybe both.

I feel badly for Best Friends, because they are being set up to take the fall if they can’t handle all 125 dogs Markwell is pushing on them and the conditions he has set in order to release his hostages.

For now, let’s sit back and see how this all plays out.

A HUGE THANK YOU to the wonderful folks who made time today—when you probably wanted to be Christmas shopping or decorating your tree or any one of the fun things you’d really prefer to be doing instead of driving hours to Forks, Washington—to stand with a sign in the cold drizzle in front of a warehouse at 1021 Russell Rd. on behalf of the dogs trapped inside. May you be blessed this holiday season.

I appreciate you, and I know you will continue this crusade, continue the protests, until we have satisfaction for every remaining dog in that warehouse.

Thank you, and to everyone who is outraged and writing and calling over and over again. You rock.

Tamira Thayne, founder and CEO, Dogs Deserve Better

Mouth mask laying over by the fence. Need any more proof that it stinks so bad it burns your nose and mouth inside the building?

Mouth mask laying over by the fence. Need any more proof that it stinks so bad it burns your nose and mouth inside the building?

Wonderful group of protestors today, thank you for giving your time for the dogs

Wonderful group of protestors today, thank you for giving your time for the dogs

Robin and the ladies before we left to return to the East coast

Robin and the ladies before we left to return to the East coast

Another shot at some of the holes in the walls of the warehouse

Another shot at some of the holes in the walls of the warehouse

You can vaguely see a dog in the window. Seems there were four dogs in the window today, but again, NO ONE INSIDE. It was so sad to see each of the dogs licking at the window to try to get any condensation to quench their thirst. And I guarantee you those were the comparatively lucky dogs. At least they weren't in a crate being pissed on from above.

You can vaguely see a dog in the window. Seems there were four dogs in the window today, but again, NO ONE INSIDE. It was so sad to see each of the dogs licking at the window to try to get any condensation to quench their thirst. And I guarantee you those were the comparatively lucky dogs. At least they weren’t in a crate being pissed on from above.

A Day of Restraint and Lack Thereof

Tamira Thayne with Maggie McDowell, both ladies have suffered in the protest of OAS. Tamira was hit with a restraining order and then arrested when she violated it to continue the protest, and Maggie was allegedly attacked by Markwell while in her vehicle resulting in his arrest and a restraining order against him.

Tamira Thayne with Maggie McDowell, both ladies have suffered in the protest of OAS. Tamira was hit with a restraining order and then arrested when she violated it to continue the protest, and Maggie was allegedly attacked by Markwell while in her vehicle resulting in his arrest and a restraining order against him.

December 12, 2013 was a day marked by intense strife and struggle for both protestors of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary and Steve Markwell, founder of the organization, in Forks, Washington.

It was a day showcasing both restraint and lack of restraint, and highlighting the polar opposite sides of humanity.

For a history of the struggle for justice for the dogs of OAS, visit this Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674

Visit this Facebook page for up to date info on the ongoing protests at OAS: https://www.facebook.com/ProtestOAS?ref=br_tf

Read the previous blog entries for background to the case, and visit our webpage at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html and this Facebook page to learn more about the situation or to donate for legal fees incurred by DDB in our quest to free Sonny and friends.

Some recent blog and media links to what is happening:

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131213/NEWS/312139975/owner-of-forks-dog-sanctuary-freed-from-jail-on-own-recognizance-due

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/officials-play-pass-the-buck-while-dogs-at-olympic-animal-sanctuary-suffer

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Police-arrest-head-of-controversial-dog-warehouse-after-violent-outburst-235670751.html

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/former-donor-files-lawsuit-against-olympic-animal-sanctuary-for-misuse-of-50000-donation

This is Tamira Thayne’s take on December 11th and 12th, 2013:

On December 11th, myself, DDB Rescue Coordinator Robin Budin, Robert Pregulman from Seattle Dogspot, with NY attorney Susan Chana Lask, Esq. (participating via phone. https://www.facebook.com/SusanChanaLaskEsq) met in Port Angeles with Clallam County Chief Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Mark Nichols, Undersheriff Ron Peregrin, and Tracy Kellas, Clallam County Animal Control Officer.

I am grateful that they took the time to meet with us, because, as we’ve learned, those who don’t want to understand our struggle do not give us the time of day, and this includes Mayor Monohon and city attorney Rod Fleck of Forks, Washington.

These men, the two most important in terms of the decision not to pursue cruelty charges against Markwell with regards to treatment of dogs at OAS, never responded to our requests for a meeting and didn’t allow us even one minute each to talk at the town council meeting to elucidate our concerns.

Therefore, regardless of who may or may not be trying to pull the wool over our eyes, I remain grateful to those who at least took our concerns seriously enough to meet with us.

Police in Forks, including the police chief Rick Bart, have treated us fairly and kindly at all junctures. I will not falsely throw anyone under the bus, and even when asked what the name of my arresting officer was by supporters online I would not give it in an effort to protect his identity. He was only doing what he believes to be his job.

The most important thing this Clallam County meeting did for me was help me understand county politics in regards to who takes responsibility for what. In the simplest terms, let me lay it out for you:

Clallam County District Attorney’s office prosecutes all felonies in the entire county. Period. They also prosecute misdemeanors, but for the city folk of Forks, ONLY when they occur in conjunction with felonies.

In the rural areas of the county and in Port Angeles (I believe, since that is where they are located), they prosecute both felonies and misdemeanors. In the three incorporated cities of the county—which includes Forks—misdemeanors are prosecuted by city attorneys. In Forks we’re talking about Rod Fleck.

Clallam County Sheriff’s office investigates crimes in all areas of the county with the exception of the incorporated cities. In the cities, the city police are responsible for investigating crimes, both misdemeanor and felony. If they ASK for assistance from the county sheriff’s office, they normally receive the assistance, but it needs to be requested.

If Forks ASKS for assistance from Clallam County Animal Control, it will be given, but they have to request it.

We were told this isn’t a hard and fast rule or law, but it’s a matter of respecting the boundaries and working together to make the justice system work. (or not work, as the case may be.)

When the police went into Olympic Animal Sanctuary in November 2012, every single dog who was living in a travel crate would have been in violation of space laws in Washington state. Here’s that law:

2) 16.52.207 (Second degree cruelty).
Here is the language to use:
A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the person knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal.

(2) An owner of an animal is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the owner knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence:

(a) Fails to provide the animal with necessary shelter, rest, sanitation, space, or medical attention and the animal suffers unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result of the failure;

In addition, there were many other cruelty infractions observed, including the odor and lack of food and water, and that was without examining each individual dog, which I feel sure if done correctly would have elicited many, many more counts of cruelty. At least one for each dog.

It seems to me in understanding what occurred and why, the officer and Forks police should have gotten a warrant immediately after that visit and went back in based on what was seen when invited in.

I remain critical of Forks police for failing to step up at that point and do the proper investigation despite Steve Markwell immediately lawyering up and threatening lawsuits. This was a critical juncture and this was where a political breakdown occurred in the city and allowed this abuse to continue.

Apparently if they had seized the dogs, they would have had to remain in Forks unless Steve Markwell willingly gave them up to rescue, and I believe that was a major logistical stumbling block for Forks police.

Rightly or wrongly, Mark Nichols office examined the evidence for FELONY charges, and didn’t feel it met the burden of proof. So the County kicked it back down to the city of Forks for prosecution. This means that it was up to Rod Fleck to charge for misdemeanor cruelty infractions. For whatever reason, the single ticket was never issued, and the fight for justice for the dogs trapped in OAS has continued to this day.

I hope this breakdown helps you understand the levels of responsibility. It was immensely helpful to me.

On Thursday, December 12, 2013, Robin Budin and I had an 11:00 hearing for our bogus restraining orders in Forks City Hall. We had retained Seattle animal lawyer Adam Karp, who is also the attorney for the Leroy case against OAS (taking place in Port Angeles today, December 13) and for the Sherri Maddox case, where she gave OAS $50,000 for a new sanctuary and it was spent elsewhere. Note there are article discussing this above.

I’ve had all too much experience with attorneys since I started Dogs Deserve Better, and I can say that Adam Karp is one of the finest attorneys I’ve ever worked with. He is conscientious and hard-working, and I trusted him to handle our case to the very best of his abilities.

Since Markwell fired his attorney, Mr. Karp has had a very difficult time serving him with papers in any of his cases, as he takes off as soon as he sees someone nearing to serve him.

Mr. Karp explained to me that the restraining orders obtained against myself and Robin Budin should fall under Anti-SLAPP laws in Washington state. These laws basically state that you cannot obtain a restraining order against someone in order to prevent them from exercising their rights to free speech. This is exactly what happened to Robin Budin and myself, as we journeyed 3000 miles to protest the treatment of the dogs at the warehouse and ask for Sonny to be returned to DDB, and so Adam filed casework immediately to have our case reviewed for Anti-SLAPP before being judged on the merits of the case.

If we were to win this motion, Steve Markwell would be liable for our attorney fees as well as $10,000 in damages apiece. (I know, it’s like getting blood from a stone.) However, for me it’s not about the money but about the injustice, and so I want to pursue this matter to the very end.

No one should be allowed to slap someone with a restraining order to silence them. We have free speech rights in America for a reason, and anyone who manipulates the system to interfere with these rights should be punished.

Even Westboro Baptist Church, no matter how heinous their message, has repeatedly won legal battles to protest their rights to free speech.

That matter is still under advisement with the judge in the case. For the actual restraining orders, Markwell never showed up for court, and so they were dismissed.

That’s not to say that the criminal matter against myself for violating said bogus restraining order has been dismissed. It is scheduled for Monday, and I am to appear by phone with my criminal Attorney Stan Myers appearing in person on my behalf.

It is highly ironic that I come to Forks to protest the failure to arrest Steve Markwell for the ongoing conditions and treatment of 125 dogs at OAS, get arrested in the pursuit of my freedom of speech, get the bogus restraining order dropped, but still have a criminal charge against ME while Steve Markwell walks free.

Robin Budin and Tamira Thayne are excited to make it back out to the protest after their restraining orders are dismissed. Nine wonderful women protested in the freezing rain all day on December 12. A HUGE thank you to these women for going above and beyond in service to the dogs. Protesting in the rain is miserable.

Robin Budin and Tamira Thayne are excited to make it back out to the protest after their restraining orders are dismissed. Nine wonderful women protested in the freezing rain all day on December 12. A HUGE thank you to these women for going above and beyond in service to the dogs. Protesting in the rain is miserable.

Speaking of Steve Markwell and FREEDOM, on the morning of December 12, 2013, protestor Maggie McDowell was in the area of OAS walking down the road and her vehicle was parked across from the warehouse. This is not my story to tell, it’s Maggie’s, but the bottom line is that she made it into her vehicle, and then he allegedly kicked out the reflector on her vehicle and was hitting the windows, screaming “Get the Fuck out of here” while she sat inside terrified.

Luckily a police cruiser just happened by at that time and Steve Markwell was arrested and charged with Malicious Mischief in the Third Degree. He was released and Maggie obtained a restraining order against Steve Markwell.

I will point out that Maggie’s restraining order keeps Steve Markwell at 50 ft. from her, after he allegedly attacked and damaged her vehicle and terrified her, yet the restraining orders against two women holding signs saying “We’re here for our tour” and “We’d like to see Sonny now” kept us to 500 ft. away, because we are obviously MUCH more terrifying than Steve Markwell.

Eh-hem.

Steve Markwell makes sure everyone knows he carries a gun. Even police chief Rick Bart warned us he carries a gun around his ankle and told us to be careful. I’m grateful that Maggie is ok, and I am sorry that she had to live with the fear of what was happening in that moment.

Protestors all told sat in front of OAS continuously yesterday for 13.5 hours. During these 13.5 hours, NOT ONE SINGLE SOUL WENT INTO THAT WAREHOUSE TO TAKE CARE OF THE DOGS.

NOT ONE.

Not only that, but the barking was much less, sounding like there were only 15-20 dogs inside, and the rumors are swirling that he has been seen removing dogs in the middle of the night on more than one occasion this week. The debris in front of the building is different, and the crack in the wall appears different.

See the photos below:

This is the big door crack on December 4th.

This is the big door crack on December 4th.

This is the same crack on December 12th. The right side is pulled out further.

This is the same crack on December 12th. The right side is pulled out further.

This is the way the outside of the big doors looked on Dec. 4th

This is the way the outside of the big doors looked on Dec. 4th

This is the way it appears on December 12th. It seems to me to be placed back in the approximate position so as not to raise alarm that it's been opened.

This is the way it appears on December 12th. It seems to me to be placed back in the approximate position so as not to raise alarm that it’s been opened.

From this evidence and rumors one would hypothesize that he is getting out of town—which none of us care about, and I’d imagine Forks is quite happy about—except for the fact that he’s taking the dogs with him.

No one is stupid enough to expect that wherever he is taking the dogs they will have better lives, if he fails to care for them effectively now.

Those of us who bear the responsibility for placing a dog with that organization and are lined up requesting they be returned to us will now only suffer more wondering where they are.

Caring dog lovers the world over who have agonized over the plight of these dogs since the situation has received more publicity in recent months will now live in anguish this holiday season wondering where these dogs are and what is happening to them.

One of my supposed Facebook ‘friends’ wrote SHAME ON YOU on my wall the other day because our group placed a dog with OAS. Thanks, that’s just what I needed to hear while I’m out here fighting for his rights every day.

While I want to be clear that I was NOT the one who personally placed Sonny with OAS and didn’t really put two and two together that someone from my group had placed him at this controversial place until September of 2013, I have been careful not to throw anyone under the bus because I do not personally know exactly what happened.

Our reps had a lot of autonomy for decision-making in their areas, and they were trusted to make the best decisions under the circumstances that they could at the time.

The blame game doesn’t get you very far when you’re talking about 1.5 years ago, because what is done is done. The only thing we can do now is try to fix it.

I would imagine each player in this situation—except for Steve Markwell—feels shame and responsibility and wishes they had done differently. I feel shame and wish that the organization I founded, Dogs Deserve Better, had not failed Sonny.

But we did.

Dogs Deserve Better Seattle reps and volunteers at that time believed in Steve Markwell. He was in People Magazine, for God’s sake, held up as an EXPERT for dangerous dogs! Many, many people made the same mistake, and God forbid there are still people who believe the lie.

Our people fell for the sham, and while I wish I could say I would have done things differently had I been the one making the decision, I’m the world’s worst judge of character, so who knows. The things I’ve seen since starting Dogs Deserve Better would raise the hair on any normal human being, and make me question every single day my ability to see people clearly.

The biggest mistake people representing our organization made was failing to personally SEE his facility before placing a dog there. We have a rule for our reps that all foster homes or situations must be thoroughly checked out before releasing a dog, and this rule was broken because they trusted Steve Markwell and OAS. They believed the sham.

As a result, Sonny has suffered for over 1.5 years in a worse situation than he was pulled from. For that I can never be sorry enough, can never feel enough shame, and can never make it up to him.

I am doing the only thing I can do at this point, rather than wallow in shame and guilt: standing up, admitting our error, and fighting for justice for him and the other 124 dogs trapped in that warehouse with him.

Now that my restraining order has been lifted, I have some words for Steve Markwell, if he can take time from scratching his nuts long enough to read them (his words, not mine). I know that he will not hear them nor will he do the right thing as a result, but I would be remiss if I didn’t at least say them:

“I have seen your setup from the outside with my own eyes. I have stood before your facility on as many days as your bogus restraining order allowed me to.

I have not been allowed inside, and that’s because you have a lot to hide. What I have seen is even worse than I imagined, and I am appalled that you have been allowed to continue this behavior, as a human being, and as a nonprofit executive director.

I protested today again once the order was lifted, in the rain, with the other nine brave women who stood all day in the freezing rain asking you to do the right thing.

I have never once in all this time seen, nor has anyone else protesting, you enter YOUR OWN FACILITY.

You are a nonprofit founder. This requires not only fortitude but an enduring moral compass for right and wrong.

What you are doing is wrong. If it were not wrong you would be all too proud to show us.

You cannot, cannot, cannot believe for one moment in your soul that leaving a dog in a crate FOR IT’S ENTIRE LIFE, EVERY MOMENT OF EVERY DAY, IS OK.

I could say so much more, but instead I will implore you, on behalf of the dogs, to stop this pressure cooker now by doing the right thing.

Let the dogs go back to the rescues who sent them there under the false belief that they were going to a sanctuary. Let us make it up to them, let us right our failures, for all the suffering they have endured.

Let them go, and we will walk away and never utter your name again. Take up a career that doesn’t cause harm to beings you are responsible for.

Let them go to groups who want to help them, who want to give them the lives they deserve.

Return Sonny to Dogs Deserve Better.

You are not a man who owns 125 dogs who are your property to do with what you will.

You are a nonprofit executive director who is entrusted with the care of the dogs that belong under the wings, care, and auspices of the nonprofit Olympic Animal Sanctuary.

All dog lovers in America are uniting against your behavior as the founder of this nonprofit, and I am calling for the board of OAS to remove you promptly from your position as Executive Director and release the dogs to rescue.

Let them go. Just let them go.”

I am asking EVERYONE to flood the Board of Directors of OAS with demands to remove Steve Markwell as Executive Director of the organization. Please drop them an e-mail at business@olympicanimalsanctuary.org today to insist on this nonprofit operating at on above-board level and releasing these dogs—owned by the organization, NOT STEVE MARKWELL—to rescue.

Thank you.

–Tamira Thayne, founder and CEO, Dogs Deserve Better

The Ploy to Silence Protestors has Backfired

This is a blog about the protest of Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington, where a confirmed 125 dogs (sole employee confirmed this information to a protestor) are living in cages, never walked, never going outside, never leaving in many cases what is a tiny, confining crate.

To visit the Seattle Dogspot Blog, whose creator came out this week to see for himself, go to this link. He is writing about this daily at this time: http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/olympic-animal-sanctuary-just-a-jail-for-dogs

To read the history and see photos and police reports, visit this facebook page:

https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674

To read the history of Dogs Deserve Better’s attempts to help and gain return of a dog our organization sent there 1.5 years ago or to donate for our legal fees incurred from fighting for Sonny’s freedom, visit this link: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html.

I want to take time this morning to thank everyone who has made this issue blow up. It has been a combined effort of a ton of people all helping in their own ways. I’m very hesitant to name ANY names on this blog anymore besides Robin and myself, because it’s already too late for us—we’ve already been hit with a restraining order to silence our free speech.

When I defied the order and practiced free speech anyway, I was arrested and am still facing a charge for doing so. Yet I know in my heart it was the right thing to do, because as citizens of America we must prize above all our right to free speech. If anyone is using a loophole in the law in order to silence our free speech, then we have a duty and a moral obligation to stand against the injustice and bullying tactics. I did so, I will take whatever consequences they want to dish out to me, and I do not regret it for a moment.

This video of the dogs crying for help and no one is there and then me getting arrested for holding a protest sign has already garnered 25,000 views on YouTube.

Every day that we have been prohibited to stand in front of Olympic Animal Sanctuary with our signs, other protestors have come and stood in our place. Not only other protestors, but the creator of Seattle Dogspot, who wanted to see for himself what the truth was. He confirmed what we’ve been saying and even more, as people in the local area came out to talk to him and tell him their stories.

The attempt to impede our free speech has only resulted in bringing out MORE attention and MORE protestors of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary.

Others are to return today, and the big groups are being deluged with requests to get involved. I suspect more will come forward on that involvement within days.

This isn’t going away, in fact it’s just started to blow up.

I made the mistake of reading comments on blogs and articles posted on our Dogs Deserve Better facebook page. That never ends well, because I was floored to see people who still want to believe Olympic Animal Sanctuary’s warehouse is NOT exactly what it appears to be: an utter HELL for its 125 inhabitants. They want to believe what they are told by others, instead of believing the photos and videos that cannot but speak the truth.

I am always one of the last to jump on any bandwagon against another group, because I’ve been hit with more smear campaigns than I can shake a stick at. But the police reports, the eye witness photos, all the stories of actual people who’ve been there are are speaking out gel together. They fit.

One of the stories that most saddens me came from a woman who volunteered there for only a day over two years ago, and the biggest reason it saddens me is because it’s been going on for so long. The conditions described are exactly as they are described by police last year and by others who have been involved. These include but are not limited to: dogs living in stacked crates, dogs NEVER getting out of the crates, dogs without water, dogs living in their own feces, intense smell of ammonia, dogs fed meat with maggots on it, pledges by the organization not to tell anyone because they are fixing the problems.

Yet the problems are not fixed, are they? They haven’t changed at all, despite a deal cut with police to release dogs to rescue and cut down to 60 dogs.

How do you cut a deal with police in order to avoid a cruelty charge and then disregard it as if it means nothing?

And nothing happens as a result? I sneeze the wrong way and I get arrested.

IF THERE WERE NO PROBLEMS AT THE OLYMPIC ANIMAL SANCTUARY, OTHER NONPROFITS WOULD BE GIVEN THE COURTESY OF A TOUR AND NOT A RESTRAINING ORDER.

IF THERE WERE NO PROBLEMS AT OAS, ANYONE COULD DO A WELFARE CHECK FOR THEMSELVES BECAUSE THERE WOULD BE NOTHING TO SEE.

Yet no one is allowed in. No one.

There remains only one worker that has been seen going inside for perhaps 2 hours a day. I personally have never witnessed ANYONE going in in the three days I was allowed to practice free speech before my arrest.

Not one single dog has come into or gone out of the facility for a walk or to the play yard. The lone dog who was in the yard can now be seen in the window of the building.

Even if this kid is somehow working 8 hours a day, this isn’t nearly enough to walk and feed and water and clean cages for 125 dogs, which he himself confirmed was the number of dogs inside.

These dogs cry mournfully for help. You can get a restraining order falsely against two people, but you can never get it against the flood of people that is coming.

Last but not least, in order to see the mentality of the person who got the restraining order against two middle-aged women with signs in front of a warehouse full of dogs because he felt ‘threatened’ somehow, this is what he wrote when asked why he didn’t just talk to us.

“I want to make myself perfectly clear. It is not that I am unwilling to take the time away from my work to talk to these people. I am, in fact, unwilling to take the time away from scratching my nuts to talk to them. That’s where they rank among my priorities, and why anyone holds them in any higher regard than that is now and ever shall be a mystery to me.”

For me, that’s all I’d ever need to read.

Today I’m sending out a Thank You to my husband Joe. When everyone else told me not to get arrested, Joe said “I believe in you.” When I said don’t bail me out Joe said “I’ll miss you.” And last night, though this war is far from over and he fears for my safety, he told me “I’m proud of you.” Any moment you’ve been in my life has been a blessing, Joe. Thank you.

I want to encourage everyone today to keep up this fight. My soul is broken for Sonny and the other dogs, but we must be strong and all help in whatever way we can. We must.

Although our hearts break, we must use this emotion to grow stronger. Although our tears fall, we must think and act and INSIST on change for these dogs.

State cruelty laws are being broken, and the fact alone that they have not nearly the staff to care for this many dogs and the lack of exercise and space requirements observed just in the past week by many, many people—even from the outside of the unheated warehouse—must be enough for a welfare check for these dogs.

Washington State Law:

2) 16.52.207 (Second degree cruelty).
Here is the language to use:
A person is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the person knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence inflicts unnecessary suffering or pain upon an animal.

(2) An owner of an animal is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree if, under circumstances not amounting to first degree animal cruelty, the owner knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence:

(a) Fails to provide the animal with necessary shelter, rest, sanitation, space, or medical attention and the animal suffers unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result of the failure;

It’s obvious from the smell and the overcrowded conditions and the lack of exercise and staff that these laws are being broken. Continue to write and call all the places available at the links in the top.

We have meetings set up today with three of the people you have been writing and calling. We will demand answers in person while you demand answers via phone and email.

Do not stop. Do not EVER stop until these dogs are free.

Thank you, Tamira

Some kick-butt protestors from Washington state came out today

Some kick-butt protestors from Washington state this weekend

Our Day was Taken up in Court, but Protestors Still Stood Outside OAS

On Day Six of our Protest at the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington, we spent the bulk of the day in the Forks Courtroom waiting our turn for the arraignment of Tamira Thayne, as she was arrested in the practice of free speech outside OAS.

To learn more about DDB’s involvement in the protest of treatment of dogs at OAS, visit our page at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html.

To visit the most comprehensive Facebook page about the warehouse containing 125 dogs, including documentation of the police report from 2012, go here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674

Here’s what happened in Tamira’s words:

Make no mistake about it. The world is now watching Forks, Washington, and more and more people will be showing up to protest and insist that action is taken on behalf of these dogs. Here are two video links from the protest on Sunday. People are beyond disgusted that while these dogs still suffer every single day, protestors are arrested in the practice of free speech, and only ONE employee is observed DAILY entering the facility, for at most a couple of hours.

It should take at least a full time team of 5-7 people to even begin to scratch the surface of taking care of these dogs on a daily basis.

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/did-political-arm-twisting-stop-investigation-into-olympic-animal-sanctuary

http://www.seattledogspot.com/blog/dog-blog/post/my-welcome-at-the-olympic-animal-sanctuary

http://www.dailykos.com/story/2013/12/09/1261354/-Tragedy-in-Forks-Washington-Not-Twilight-NIghtmare

We were instructed to be at court by 10:00 a.m., and so sat in a full courtroom full of people waiting their turn. We were met there by another person (we are not revealing anyone’s names on here anymore for their protection. It is up to them how and when to reveal themselves.) After ascertaining that we were instead due in court at 1:30, we met up with two protestors who stood in front of the facility while we protested down the street and in front of the Forks City Hall.

Only protest photo of me from today, taken in front of City Hall.

Only protest photo of me from today, taken in front of City Hall between court appearances.

A HUGE thank you to the two people who protested on December 9th in front of OAS, while Robin and I protested down the street or in front of City Hall.

A HUGE thank you to the two people who protested on December 9th in front of OAS, while Robin and I protested down the street or in front of City Hall.

Robin at 500 ft. away, once again trying her best to do what she can despite the fraudulent gag order

Robin at 500 ft. away, once again trying her best to do what she can despite the fraudulent gag order

At 1:30 we went back and were made to wait until last. This meant we were there until almost 4:00 p.m. while case after case was mostly postponed. I have hired a criminal defense attorney, but had a meeting with him at 5:00 p.m. in Port Angeles, so I said nothing when asked by the judge although I felt I had plenty to say about infringement upon my rights to free speech by making fraudulent claims to engender a restraining order. Without an attorney present for me, I felt it was best to just say nothing until I had representation.

I had hopes that they would just drop the case given the political turmoil and tragic circumstances of this case, but that hasn’t happened. Apparently the condition of the dogs at OAS matters not, but anyone who dares to stand up and practice their rights to free speech will be punished.

They set a court date for next Monday, although I informed them I would be traveling back to VA on Sunday.

We made it back from Port Angeles in time to attend the bi-weekly Town Council meeting, but three of us waited through the entire meeting for public commentary, however they closed out the meeting without giving us the opportunity to speak. We were then informed that the public commentary was at the beginning and we were ten minutes late due to our trip to Port Angeles. We were not afforded the courtesy of allowing us even one minute each to speak our piece, even though there were only two other citizens in attendance.

We are thrilled that so many people are getting on board with this situation and doing their best to make change for these dogs. We continue to be appalled by their cries, and by the lack of employee-involvement in their day to day care. Please visit the links above and get angry. Get action. Make change. Without all of us they have no voice and no chance at a life.

If you haven’t yet seen the video of my arrest in the practice of free speech, in which you can hear the dogs crying mournfully, please watch it and share. We MUST do something for these dogs. Please, please help.

Thank you,

Tamira Thayne

The Protest Cavalry Arrives, and Meanwhile, Back in the Nosebleed Seats…

Some kick-butt protestors from Washington state came out today

Some kick-butt protestors from Washington state came out today

From Tamira Thayne, on Day 5 of the protest at Olympic Animal Sanctuary, December 8th, 2013, in Forks Washington:

Today, Sunday December 8th, we were blessed to have the Cavalry show up in the form of six lovely ladies from close-ish Washington state, complete with awesome signage and, most impressively, a bullhorn. (Is that what those things are called? Megaphones?) Whatever it’s called, I loved it.

Ok, now these ladies were professionals! Makes Robin and I look like a couple of hacks...but our hearts are in the right place!

Ok, now these ladies were professionals! Makes Robin and I look like a couple of hacks…but our hearts are in the right place.

Nothing better on a cold day making change for the dogs at Olympic Animal Sanctuary at 1021 Russell Rd. in Forks, Washington. To see background of what’s been happening, visit our page at http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html.

We met up at the Thrifty Mart, and drove to the site together, Robin and I staying 500 feet back in the nosebleed seats due to our bogus restraining order—aka free speech impeder—while the six ladies drove up to our old spot and set up shop.

Look at Robin, chained up in the backyard, aka 500 ft. from all the protest action. See how far away they were? Like 1-2/3 football fields away!

Look at Robin, chained up in the backyard, as in 500 ft. from all the protest action. See how far away they were? Like 1-2/3 football fields away!

Here’s a peek at how far we were from them…note how Robin looks so anxious to be part of it. We were like two dogs chained in the backyard all day, yearning to be part of the family, but shut off and wanting to get in.

Look! Squirrel!

Look! Squirrel!

I did get some shots of the cutest squirrel in existence, though…aw, look at that little darling. You can’t tell me he’s not just the most precious thing!

So, first, the ladies got set up and did some chanting, saying “Open the doors, Forks.” Then they did some talking round the neighborhood, which was really informative…and they judged how many thumbs up they got from passers-by and how many peeps gave them the finger. Turned out it was about 3 thumbs up to every middle finger, so that’s a positive sign.

Protestors takin' it to the net!

Protestors takin’ it to the net!

Then, things got a little hairy for them when OAS Supporters showed up and got a little rowdy, or so we heard. Mostly we just said “I wonder what’s going on now?” to each other. Here’s where that bullhorn again came in mighty handy.

At this point neighbors near us came out and told us the yelling was stressing out the dogs and making them bark. What? So you don’t care if they die in there, as long as they’re quiet about it. Unbelievable.

The police were called, and since Markwell didn’t know their names, and they would only be there for one day, he wasn’t able to trot on out and get six more restraining orders. So police told supporters that the protestors are allowed to go right on up to the easement without being considered to be trespassing. So that’s what they did.

Police are called to solve a boundary dispute, or so we hear

Police are called to solve a boundary dispute, or so we hear

Come on, you know this is the cutest squirrel EVER. I told him not to get too close to OAS, he might end up dinner or in a cage himself. But for now he is at least 500 ft. away, we know that for sure.

He just likes to pose. I think that squirrel is full of himself.

He just likes to pose. I think that squirrel is full of himself.

Once in awhile one or two of the ladies would take pity on us and come on down and tell us the latest haps. We were so excited to see them heading our way, just like a chained dog when he or she sees the master approaching with food. We’d wag our tails and beg for a morsel of news from the front.

One last look. Squirrel!

One last look. Squirrel!

They actually saw someone enter the building today, the young man we were told worked there entered at 3:30. I’m not sure how long he was inside, but he was the ONLY one who went inside, despite there being 5-6 of them milling about outside at one point.

Once again, tell me how one person can take care of 120 dogs by wandering into work for just a couple hours at a time? Long story short, they can’t. Period.

Before they left they called the police and asked for a welfare check on the dogs due to the stench coming out the left side of the building. When the policeman asked to go inside, he was told “Come back with a warrant.”

Again, we say, what is being hidden inside OAS that NO ONE is allowed in?

If you haven’t yet seen the video of the dogs howling and my subsequent arrest for peacefully protesting, click here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E3dobZuVeQE

When we got back to our room and I got online, I saw that our behaviorist from the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, Virginia (based in Vick’s former dogfighting compound) had tagged me on photos of some of our dogs she’d photographed today. I was so touched and blown away by the photos because of the contrast to the way dogs are living at OAS, in a frigid warehouse in tiny cages, without access to ANY of the niceties of life let alone the basic necessities.

The fact that we all have to fight SO hard to try to win them basic respect and rights to space, food, water, and exercise just rips my heart out.

I am exceedingly grateful to Amy and the wonderful staff at the Good Newz Rehab Center who do their very best for our dogs every day. To Mark, Jay, Michelle, Tim, Sherri, and Nicki, thank you from myself and the dogs of Dogs Deserve Better. Our dogs GET better because of your dedication to their welfare.

Eddie, who spent most of his life on a chain in Ohio.

Eddie, who spent most of his life on a chain in Ohio.

Jules, just removed from a chain in Surry, VA this week. Look at her now, all gussied up!

Jules, just removed from a chain in Surry, VA this week. Look at her now, all gussied up!

Seriously, folks, I know we are all heartbroken and saddened over the fact that we seem to be getting nowhere fast for the dogs at OAS. But do NOT STOP. We CANNOT STOP, because we are the only voice these dogs have.

Thank you.

Tami