Olympic Animal Sanctuary Police Report and Photos Released

UPDATED JANUARY 1, 2014

Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs safe and settled in Arizona

Animal lovers have been watching closely the past week as the sad tale of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary began to unfold. The sanctuary in Forks, Washington came under fire by animal advocates for the alleged inhumane treatment of the dogs. While the story started to unfold, the dogs and sanctuary owner Steve Markwell disappeared. Click here for updated info. on the story.

UPDATED DECEMBER 20, 2013

I have been following protests going on in Washington involving an animal sanctuary called Olympic Animal Sanctuary in the City of Forks. On their website, the Sanctuary says, “The Olympic Animal Sanctuary takes care of dogs that have been turned down by all other shelters and organizations because they were deemed dangerous. Dogs that have severely injured people or killed other animals, feral dogs, wolf hybrids, and coyote hybrids – animals that simply aren’t welcome in our society anymore are welcomed at Olympic Animal Sanctuary.”

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I have read numerous articles and have been following the Facebook page of Dogs Deserve Better who are involved in protesting the fact that this shelter isn’t being shut down by the City because of the suspected animal abuse going on inside. You can read one of the many stories here. They jumped into helping the situation about a month ago.

It was a Facebook page called OAS – Life inside the Sanctuary who first brought this situation to the attention of the public in April of this year. They also have a website here.

No, this isn’t happening in Grand Traverse County – or even in Michigan. But dogs and cats don’t know what boundaries are. And neither does animal cruelty.

I made a public records request to see if there were ever any investigations or inspections of this animal sanctuary. Regardless of whether the City of Forks has animal legislation or not, the State of Washington has animal cruelty laws and they must be adhered to. These laws are to be enforced by the City or County according to RCW 16.52.015 which you can read here

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To read the Forks Police investigation report please click here.

This PDF is 421 pages of photos and information on the sanctuary, including numerous findings of dead dogs; photos of unsanitary conditions; a Forks Police case report filed by a non-profit animal welfare organization against founder Steve Markwell; a report filed by Officer Julie Goode in November of 2012 after an inspection including an admission of Markwell only feeding the dogs three times a week (p. 112) and Goode telling him that the “living conditions of the entire building were bad and that I would possibly be bringing other departments such as code and health enforcement”; talk of a seizure that never materialized; an email that shows the Mayor knew about the dog case in November of 2012 (p. 146); a letter to the City from Stephen Markwell’s attorney contending that officer Goode’s visit was “harassment”; a statement by a visitor to the shelter from April of 2013 about concerns and observations (p. 228); various complaints filed by neighbors (p. 265); a communication in an email (p.292) that it’s “very important prior to us taking any physical action against the guy we meet with the Mayor. He is very concerned how the community will react and wants to make sure he has time to prepare the Council and others who he believes will support our suspect”; an animal cruelty report package submitted by a non-profit animal welfare organization (p. 390).

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And still, the sanctuary remains open. But does the investigation? The photos of the dogs in crates without enough space to move around is one of many apparent State violations contained in this report. RCW 16.52.207 of the animal cruelty law states “an owner of an animal is guilty of animal cruelty in the second degree…if they fail to provide the animal with necessary shelter; rest; sanitation; space or medical attention and the animal suffers any unnecessary or unjustifiable physical pain as a result of the failure.” (p. 160). The state’s prevention of cruelty to animals link is here.

The report filed by the animal welfare organization states that “on average, 100% of the dogs are fed twice a week and watered only once a week. They are never given dog food, but are fed a diet of raw meat, which is often left outside, unrefrigerated and is rotting by the time it is fed to the dogs. On average, 100% of the dogs do not have constant access to clean water. On average, 100% of the dogs are NOT taken out of their enclosures on a daily (and sometimes weekly) basis for exercise or just to go outside. On average, 100% of the dogs do not have access to necessary veterinary medical attention…” (p. 395)

The authorities in the City need to do what’s right for the animals and the taxpayers. It appears that these conditions have been going on a long time. How many more dead dog reports will be filed? I have contacted the County and they say they have no jurisdiction over the incorporated city of Forks. I also contacted the Washington Dept. of Agriculture regarding their enforcement of animal cruelty laws. I was contacted by Mr. Hector Castro, Communications Director who said, “…our agency doesn’t actually have the authority to pursue incidences of inhumane treatment of animals. Washington’s “Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act” gives that authority to “law enforcement agencies and animal care and control agencies.”  The Washington State Department of Agriculture is not defined as a law enforcement, animal care or animal control agency. We can help other agencies if asked, but  we lack any direct authority in cases such as the one you have covered in your blog. Under current law, it’s the local agencies that have jurisdiction to investigate claims of inhumane treatment of animals.”

The City has received at least two offers from animal rescue organizations to evaluate the dogs and possibly rescue them from this sanctuary. There is no reason for them to euthanize any of the dogs without professional evaluations by people in the animal welfare industry.

Here is a link to the state animal laws: http://agr.wa.gov/foodanimal/animalhealth/lawsrules.aspx

And here are some more links about the story:

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

http://freesonny.wordpress.com/2013/12/11/our-day-was-taken-up-in-court-but-protestors-still-stood-outside-oas/

http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131212/news/312129985/lawmen-in-forks-confronted-by-dog-shelter-protester-after-chamber-of

And for comprehensive coverage from quite some time ago up to very recently, here are some links to the KOMO 4 News stories on OAS:

OUR ORIGINAL LENGTHY INVESTIGATIVE REPORT (Sept. 23, 2013):

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Former-supporter-calls-Forks-dog-sanctuary-a-torture-chamber-224972202.html

‘BEST FRIENDS’ TELLS KOMO 4 NEWS IT IS OPEN TO ACCEPTING OAS DOGS (Dec. 16, 2013):

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/animals-236133141.html

THE FIRST PROTEST (Nov. 14, 2013):

http://www.komonews.com/news/problemsolvers/Protesters-demand-Forks-authorities-take-action-against-dog-sanctuary-232106171.html

THE FIRST LAWSUIT (Nov. 20, 2013):

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/Critics-trying-to-rescue-dogs-from-sanctuary-of-sorrow-232958271.html

STEVE MARKWELL GETS ARRESTED (Dec 12, 2013):

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

BRIEF TEXT-ONLY STORY ABOUT MARKWELL’S ANNOUNCEMENT THAT HE’D LIKE TO TRANSFER DOGS TO BEST FRIENDS (Dec. 15, 2013):

http://www.komonews.com/news/local/sanctuary-of-sorrows-close-olympic-animal-shelter-forks-steve-markwell-235905311.html

Pet Friends Magazine is waiting for a comment from the Olympic Animal Sanctuary about the current protests and accusations regarding animal cruelty and will publish them if we are contacted.

WHO CAN YOU CONTACT?

* The next City Council meeting is on Monday, December 30th at 7:30 p.m. at Forks City Hall at 500 East Division Street. If you are a resident of the City of Forks (or the County of Clallam, this is your opportunity to speak up.) The agenda for the meeting will be made public by the close of business day on December 27th. Interested parties may visit www.forkswashington.org or contact City staff for a copy at 360-374-5412.

• The Mayor of the City of Forks is Bryon Monohon. The City of Forks City Council members, in addition to the Mayor, are: Michael Breidenbach, Bruce Guckenberg, Kevin Hinchen, John Hillcar, & Juanita Weissenfels. Although their individual information is not on the City’s website, you can call the main number at (360) 374-5412 or email: info@forkswashington.org

• If you have any questions regarding the animal cruelty laws in the state of Washington, you can contact Hector Castro, Communications Director at 360-902-1815 or you can email him here.

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19 thoughts on “Olympic Animal Sanctuary Police Report and Photos Released

  1. Carolyn December 16, 2013 at 3:08 pm Reply

    Thank you Pet Friends for this information. I just learned of this horrible abuse and also cannot understand why it wasn’t taken care of right after the visit from the Forks Police Department. That in itself is neglect. The City of Forks should be held accountable also. How to do that? I’m not sure, but a few animal lovers with a huge email list of big shots might help.

  2. curiocache December 17, 2013 at 1:28 am Reply

    Thank you for following up on this! There have been 4 or 5 news stories on KOMO 4 in Seattle about this, as well as countless Facebook postings and letters and emails written to everyone imaginable. Here is another petition. Please sign and share if you feel so moved. http://www.thepetitionsite.com/527/413/845/boycott-forks-wa-until-the-animal-abuse-ends/

  3. Julie Jo December 17, 2013 at 6:22 am Reply

    Thank you for this report. I have been following this terrible story for a while now, and I am outraged at the fact that these poor dogs are still there. It just makes me sick. I just hope that when they do finally get this all figured out, that there are dogs left to save. Just awful!!!

  4. laura December 17, 2013 at 8:53 am Reply

    The VP of OAS who was at that time Chair of the Clallam County Democratic Party wrote a memo to the Mayor threatening to “End the working relationship” toward “common political goals” unless the Mayor stopped the prosecution. Randazzo was subsequently appointed to head the DNR. The email has been made public and is posted on the LIfe in he Sanctuary website. I suggest that anyone who reads this article should email to the governor of Washington and request that Randazzo be fired. Encourage your friends as well.

  5. Amy December 17, 2013 at 9:27 am Reply

    THANK YOU for helping spread awareness of the atrocity that is happening in WA state. This information is well written and thought provoking and just what we need. This has been going on for far too long and the more people that know about this and SPEAK UP, the faster we will get the dogs out. Markwell said this past weekend he would release the dogs to Best Friends in UT, but has yet to contact them. He thinks we will just go away, but we must stay and continue to speak up for those that cannot.

  6. sophia December 17, 2013 at 1:29 pm Reply

    City council meeting for DEC 23 was cxled according to their website

  7. Erin December 17, 2013 at 1:49 pm Reply

    Forks City Council has rescheduled their meeting on the 23rd to DECEMBER 30! Check the councils homepage http://www.forkswashington.org/public-notice-current-issues for the latest info and times. I urge Forks citizens to attend this meeting. Your city should be known for its beauty and not its ugliness due to Steve Markwell, so make it so!!

  8. Pam Burton December 18, 2013 at 7:35 am Reply

    Forks Wa…….Animal Abuse and Animal Cruelty Capitol of America!!

  9. Jamie dimarsico December 18, 2013 at 8:39 am Reply

    So sad it kills me to see this,

  10. WR December 18, 2013 at 1:27 pm Reply

    The dogs at OAS are suffering and dying….While local and state lawmakers are turning their backs on these dogs. The world is watching…..

  11. Michelle Novotny (@yankeeforever) December 18, 2013 at 4:50 pm Reply

    This must stop now! Put it on the News Stations, the Newspapers, the radio!

  12. Joey Tyler December 19, 2013 at 7:11 pm Reply

    These reports on the 400+ page download was unbearable to read. How disgusting. The text was worse than the photos believe it or not!

  13. Piper December 20, 2013 at 9:54 pm Reply

    I had not ever heard about this situation until I saw this linked in a comment on another blog. I will be honest, I am not a huge fan of dogs, although I love all animals… I just don’t feel a particular bond with dogs in general. Last year we “inherited” a large, elderly dog with many health problems and honestly it has been challenging but so rewarding- I love this dog more than words can express. I looked through the report and the photos and the first thing that came to mind is “what must this place SMELL like??” I know our dog has accidents in the house regularly… and the moment I wake up I can tell if he had a “good” night or a “bad” night… and that is from the other side of the house. I can’t imagine these poor dogs living in such filth and breathing in what must be the most horrific smelling air day in and day out. I can’t imagine how the person that owns this property and “cares” for these animals can look at this and think it is ok…. there has to be some sort of mental health issue going on here for the humans involved. It seems like this has been an ongoing issue for a long time now and yet the dogs are still there? How is that possible? I really don’t understand.

  14. janice December 22, 2013 at 4:32 am Reply

    The citizens of Forks should be concerned about how this is making them look and how this could potentially negatively affect the number of people visiting and spending money in their town. People from all over the world are watching, signing petitions, and commenting via the internet about how absolutely disgusting this situation is. So at this point for many people, Forks Washington = horrible disgusting animal abuse and corrupt authorities.
    It’s on the shoulders of those who are in the community to step up to the plate!! Good god! If it was my town I would be all over it and so would many of my fellow citizens. It’s pretty bad when outsiders not locals are the ones who bring awareness of this sickening situation to the fore….something reeks to high heaven over there and it needs to be rooted out! Frankly if this doesn’t get sorted out soon I wouldn’t be surprised (or sorry) if people stormed in there and simply freed the prisoners……and I’m thinking those people aren’t going ask permission or be intimidated by threats of guns and violence like the ones that have already been made by the slimy owner…..just sayin’……

  15. Patty Hayes December 22, 2013 at 3:09 pm Reply

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

    Only a week ago, Markwell claimed that he was going to close this “Sanctuary of Sorrow” and release the dogs to Best Friends Animal Society. But what he was really doing, while distracting his detractors AND supporters to focus on Best Friends, was in the dead of nite, moving the dogs into a semi-tractor trailer that he has now fled in and is hiding out somewhere. He refused to show up for the court hearing on Friday relating to the case filed by AARF to regain custody of the dog Leroy, “appearing” by phone and not testifying on his own behalf. Thankfully, the judge awarded custody to AARF and they were able to get him Friday nite, hours before Markwell absconded with the remaining dogs. Dogs Deserve Best is still trying to get custody of Sonny, and there is also the lawsuit filed by Sherrie Maddox for the misappropriation of her $50,000 donation to OAS for a new facility. Markwell claims he had to use the donation for dog food. This is a dangerous, deranged individual, who has proven that he’s incapable of working even with people he hand-picks. He turns on everyone who has tried to help him because, quite frankly, he’s a con man. He never intended to improve conditions at OAS because he’s been living off the donations and allowing the dogs to live in squalor. The photos of how he left the building that his own mother paid $120,000 for, tell the story of his incompetence, arrogance and neglect.

    http://freesonny.wordpress.com/2013/12/21/ddb-offering-500-reward-for-credible-information-as-to-whereabouts-of-oas-dogs/

  16. diane December 27, 2013 at 12:57 am Reply

    This is unbearable! Why the heck is everyone simply passing the buck? It’s not my job, it’s not his job, it’s not their job. So, while all of the bucks are passing, the dogs live in misery and, apparently, die in misery.

  17. Jane B December 27, 2013 at 10:51 am Reply

    Glad to hear that these dogs are now in the hands of the Guardians of Rescue:
    “HELP THE OAS DOGS:
    Ok Folks, Christmas night and we need your help. The Guardians are working through the holiday to help the OAS dogs get settled and comfortable. Your donation can help sponsor a dog. We need to work fast. We have spent over $5,000 since yesterday but will need a lot more to maintain and vet all the dogs. Help these dogs get their Christmas wishes!”

    http://guardiansofrescue.org/banners-view/help-the-oas-dogs/

  18. Hilary Bouknight January 12, 2014 at 9:30 am Reply

    I HELPED PAT WEBB WITH WHEELS 4 PAWS TRANSPORT 5 OF THE PREVIOUS OAS DOGS THAT ARE NOW IN AZ TO THEIR FOREVER HOMES ON OUR 13 DAY JOURNEY OF THE HEART! THEY WERE ANDELS IN THE VAN ON TRANSPORT AND GAVE US KISSES WHEN THEY WERE WITH US! THEY KNEW THEY WERE SAFE AND LOVED! IT WAS AN HONOR TO HAVE BEEN PART OF THIS FREEDOM TRANSPORT! GOD BLESS ALL WHO WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN THEY SAFETY OF THESE DOGS! I WILL ALWAYS CARRY A PIECE OF EACH AND EVERY ONE OF THE DOGS IN MY HEART!

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