On Day 1 of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary protest in Forks, Washington (yes, home of the wonderful Twilight vampires and wolfpack!), Dogs Deserve Better Inc. founder Tamira Thayne and rescue coordinator Robin Budin drove to the facility at 1021 Russell Rd. at 10 a.m., as they had publicly requested a tour of the facility for that time.
They traveled 3000 miles from Virginia and Massachusetts to see Sonny and win his release from the Olympic Animal Sanctuary, after months of pleas to release him were ignored.
For the background on this situation, please visit the Dogs Deserve Better website page at this link: http://www.dogsdeservebetter.org/sonny.html
Here’s what happened on December 4th in Tamira’s words:
When we arrived at the facility at 10 a.m. we were greeted by a police officer, an Officer Garcia, who was very kind but told us that OAS founder Steve Markwell was not here and that he had requested police services to ensure that no one trespassed on his property. Officer Garcia and another officer let us know that we were perfectly welcome to practice our free speech rights, and they supported these rights, as long as we didn’t trespass to do so.
They assured us they would come about throughout the day to check on us and make sure nothing was getting too ugly.
First and foremost—and MOST IMPORTANTLY because it DIRECTLY RELATES TO THE CARE OF THE DOGS AT THIS FACILITY and the sole reason we are here—we want everyone to know that from the time we arrived—at 10:00 a.m. on December 4th, through the time we left, at 2:30 p.m. on December 4th—NOT A SINGLE SOUL ENTERED OR LEFT THAT BUILDING.
After the police left, we took photos of the outside of the facility from the road. The ONLY dog outside was an older collie mix, who was alone the entire time, barking his head off. He constantly walked up the big mound in the yard, which we are told is actually a mound of poop and straw that has grown over with grass.
When he would start barking loudly, the myriad dogs inside would echo his barks, and at times there was a cacophony of barking. There was one dog in particular inside who would put out an extremely mournful howl at about every hour throughout the day, and it twisted at our souls and our hearts.
We spoke to a neighbor who told us that they cannot barbecue or have picnics in the summer because the smell is too overwhelming and it makes them sick.
We then went next door to an auto body shop to ask if we could climb up on a truck to see inside the fence, but they were not open yet. When we were in the parking lot of this business, Steve Markwell came flying into the parking lot in a silver truck, careened toward us, circled around us, and then peeled out to stop in front of us. This behavior was threatening and an attempt to intimidate us, in our belief. He then handed us each a letter, and peeled out of the parking lot, leaving behind a woman named Heather in a white SUV who yelled at us and then called the police because I videotaped her.
Below is a photo of the letter that we were handed by Steve Markwell. This letter will not deter us from our mission, but shows the level of intimidation he will go to in order to stop us from raising awareness about this situation.
Our goals for today were twofold: Get a tour of the facility to see how bad the situation is (or is not), and to get Sonny released back to Dogs Deserve Better so we could take him to a foster home with a trainer.
But we were refused access to the facility, and were refused our repeated requests to see Sonny.
Why would a facility who claims there is nothing wrong NOT prove it by showing us around? If you refuse to allow access to your facility, then you have something to hide. Pure and simple.
Claims are that there are 120 dogs inside the building. Yet there was only ONE dog outside. We know that because only ONE dog barked outside all day long. All day.
He was outside in sub-freezing temperatures from 10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m. If he had a doghouse, he didn’t use it, but spent the entire time climbing the hill to look over the fence at us and bark for attention. A couple of times he laid down at the top of the hill because he got tired. We talked to him often throughout the day, but were powerless to provide him any love or meet any food or water needs he may have without trespassing. Unfortunately, he was still the best-off dog in that facility, because all of the other dogs NEVER LEFT THEIR CAGES DURING THOSE 4.5 HOURS. Not a single other dog came outside, there were no dogs walked, and as I said before, NO ONE went into or left the facility.
Around noon a woman walked up the road with a chair and sat in front of the facility with a sign saying “Leave Steve alone. Go Back Home. OAS Supporter.” Robin asked her repeatedly if she was going to go inside and take care of the dogs. She just started videotaping us instead, and refused to answer our questions.
Then about 5-6 other youngish people came around and started hanging out with her. Still no one went inside, and no one talked to the dog who barked from the poop hill. One of the young men, whose sister said that he works there, walked up to the door, tested it, then walked away, never going in.
As we’ve expressed before, if you have 120 dogs to care for every day, this would take AT LEAST 5-6 people ALL DAY LONG to simply give them all food and water and clean their cages. It’s doubtful that you could give them all even a very short time outside or a short walk if the people worked all day.
Yet we were there for 4.5 hours and not a single person went inside?
Something is horribly wrong with this picture.
Our facility has only 13 dogs being trained at a time, yet you will see starting at 8:00 a.m. two employees walking every single dog out to the field where they are allowed to run and play for ten minutes each. You will also see the same thing at 4:00 p.m. daily, since our dogs get two walks a day. We are open to the public daily from 10 a.m.-2 p.m., and anyone can make an appointment at other times to visit our dogs and facility. At least one staff member is with the dogs until their bedtime at 9:30 at night.
How can you have a facility with 120 dogs and NO ONE IS THERE?
Steve Markwell, the OAS founder, drove by at least 4-5 times during those 4.5 hours, but never pulled into his facility other than to talk to his supporter quickly, and never at any time went into the building or paid any attention to the collie in the yard.
The young man told us again that we were not allowed on the property, and then another young man went and got cardboard so they could make more signs.
He and a girl made signs saying “Genital Warts” and “Herpes” with signs pointing in and stood by Robin on either side. They took photos of this, and while they were taking photos, Steve Markwell drove up and took a photo of it himself, which apparently means he condones this kind of behavior in his supporters.
He then spoke to us briefly, with Robin telling him that we tried to help him and we emailed him repeatedly asking him for Sonny back before we went public with our attempts to pull Sonny.
He claimed that we just plan to kill Sonny and that our reputation preceded us. He attacked us personally repeatedly. When I told him that I wanted to see Sonny his response was “I’ll bet you do.”
His claim that we plan to kill Sonny is an outright lie, and is being told to justify his unwillingness to return him to DDB. We already have two foster situations lined up for him, and two trainers. If one doesn’t work out we will go to the second option. AND we are willing to drive him cross-country if need be to a trainer in the east.
Sonny is not the only dog being requested returned from OAS. Many, many rescues who sent dogs there under the belief that the dog would be living a ‘sanctuary’ life have now stepped forward asking for their dogs back.
Another rescue has already sued wanting their dog back. (All media stories can be found and linked on this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674?ref=br_tf
The temperature when we arrived this morning was 29 degrees fahrenheit. There was frost on our vehicle and there was front on the plants near the building. Our hands and feet were immediately freezing, so we had to change to our thick boots and gloves. The building has NO HEAT to our knowledge, and big openings in the panels, at least six inches wide all along the one front panel. Two of the other panels have holes in the bottom. Both upstairs windows were open, on the left and on the right, and when I was standing alongside the building on the left by the window with the fan I could smell a horrible odor even with the temperature as low as it is.
We left the facility at 2:35 p.m. after taking one last photo of the collie barking for attention in the yard. We met with the Forks Police Chief, Rick Bart, at 3:00 p.m. He confirmed that after the Forks police planned to arrest Steve Markwell on animal cruelty charges and he lawyered up, they made a deal with him and his attorney that he would decrease the number of dogs at his facility to 60. Markwell has not followed through with this promise.
If he made this deal with the Forks police in order to avoid cruelty charges, WHY THEN IS HE NOT RETURNING DOGS TO THE RESCUES WHO ARE REQUESTING RETURN OF dogs they sent to the facility under false promises of sanctuary?
The police chief also told us to be careful, because Steve Markwell makes sure everyone knows he has a gun, and he doesn’t want us to get shot.
The biggest question I have from the day is: If you KNOW that someone will be protesting outside your facility all day, WHY WOULD YOU NOT BE THERE ATTEMPTING TO AT LEAST APPEAR TO BE CARING FOR THE DOGS? Instead Steve Markwell seemed more concerned with getting us to leave than caring for the organization’s dogs.
The outside of the facility was a complete mess, as the photos show. He has repeatedly said that he is cleaning up the place, but if the outside still looks like this, what does the inside look like?
It’s time something is done about this. We need more people and we need more help. Please visit this Facebook page for all the numbers and photos and neighbor complaints and police officer reports from their visit inside the facility.
Please help these dogs. I am more convinced than ever that they need it.
For links to all news stories and see more photos and the police evidence, visit this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674?ref=br_tf
Photos of the outside of the facility:
These dogs need immediate help, and we MUST keep up the public pressure to save their lives. Local OAS supporters are convinced everyone just wants to kill the dogs. The truth is that most rescue groups who put dogs there want them back, and other stand by to take all the dogs and get them evaluated and placed as much as possible: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674?ref=br_tf
Posted below is contact info and advice from that page for your ease of use.
For those supporters new to the page:
Animal Rescue Corps (ARC) made an offer to the City of Forks to take full financial and physical responsibility of the dogs in order to get them safely rescued. The offer was made in October 2012 — to date, the city continues to ignore the offer.
HSUS & PETA are aware of what is going on, but state they are unable to get involved unless Forks city authorities request their help. HSUS has previously made a request that we not post their contact information, which is why it is not listed.
ASPCA is not in Washington State.
These dogs have a rescue organizations ready to help them, so we need to continue to call and write and help get them rescued. We are their voice when the city/county/state want to ignore the situation.
**Please continue to contact the authorities listed below — ask elected officials why they are allowing the dogs to remain in these conditions and why they aren’t adhering to animal abuse laws.
++ Rod Fleck, Forks, WA City Attorney: 360-374-5412 ext. 245. firstname.lastname@example.org Fax (360) 374-9430.
++The Forks Police Department 360-374-2223 – Police Administrator, Rick Bart.
++Mayor Bryon Monohon email@example.com
++City Council Woman Juanita Weissefels firstname.lastname@example.org
++Clallam County Sheriff
360-417-2262 – Bill Benedict, Sheriff
++Undersheriff Ron Peregrin
223 E. 4th St. Suite 12
Port Angeles, WA 98362
++Clallam County Prosecuting Attorney
223 East 4th Street, Suite #11
Port Angeles, WA 98362
++Governor Jay Inslee 360-902-4111.
P.O. Box 40002, Olympia, Washington 98504
As the Governor of Washington State, why is he ignoring this?
++U.S. Senator Patty Murray
Phone: (253) 572-3636
Fax: (253) 572-9488
50 Pacific Avenue, Ste. 650
Tacoma, Washington 98402
++U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell
950 Pacific Ave., #615
Tacoma, WA 98402
++Senator Jim Hargrove
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7646
Port Angeles Office: (360) 457-2520
PO Box 40424
Olympia, WA 98504-0424
++Congressman Derek Kilmer
50 Pacific Avenue
Tacoma, WA 98402
++Representative Kevin Van De Wege
Olympia Office: (360) 786-7916
Sequim office: (360) 582-9830
PO Box 40600
Olympia, WA 98504-0600
The police report and other information can be easily read at www.olympicanimalsanctuary.info.
If you missed the broadcast, “Sanctuary of Sorrow” you can view it at :
— at Olympic Animal Sanctuary.