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A statement about the Olympic Animal Sanctuary situation

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The Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Wash., has continued to create a great deal of controversy, outrage and conversation.

Since the arrival of two Dogs Deserve Better representatives to the Forks property less than a week ago, dozens of people have begged and pleaded for local town officials to take action. Several people have emailed the National Dog News Examiner, both in support of the Sanctuary, and in opposition to the operation.

The following are a few facts about what has taken place thus far.

Fact - Reps from Dogs Deserve Better arrived to the Forks property last Wednesday to stage a peaceful protest and request a tour of the facility; one representative was arrested for violating a restraining order.

Fact - In Sept., the local ABC News Station, KOMO, conducted an investigative report of OAS. Steve Markwell, owner of the sanctuary, denied the reporter and camera crew inside.

Fact - Forks Mayor Bryon Monohon admitted to KOMO News that the city lacks the resources to fight a lawsuit involving Markwell, and he admitted that the town ordinances "lack teeth."

Fact - Some OAS supporters have criticized the National Dog News Examiner of reporting only one side of this situation; they failed to realize that an email asking for answers was sent to Markwell last week; it remains unanswered.

Fact - Forks Police entered the OAS facility just over a year ago. The officer's write-up of the conditions inside, at that time, were concerning. The odor inside was described as overwhelming, crated dogs were noted to be without access to water, and walkways were described as covered in feces and urine.

Fact - In late November (2013), KOMO News reported that Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation in Seattle filed a lawsuit against Markwell, accusing him of "failing to provide adequate and humane care" for a dog named Leroy and refusing to give back the dog placed there temporarily.

Fact - OAS Supporters claim that the conditions have been greatly improved for the dogs in Markwell's care, but thus far, Markwell refuses to open the doors to allow those changes to be documented and reported to the people who are concerned.

Fact - In July 2012, a donor gave Markwell $50,000 to help build a new facility. The funds did not go to a new facility as promised (read more here), and now the donor calls herself a "former supporter of OAS."

In the past several days, more than one OAS supporter has inquired "Have you considered that many, or perhaps most, of these dogs will be destroyed if the Olympic Animal Sanctuary is closed down?"

My answer, which may upset some people, is this - if the conditions are not vastly different from the way that they were a year ago, I would have my own dogs humanely euthanized before subjecting them to an existence of being warehoused for the remainder of their life.

Markwell issued his own statement on what has been taking place with the Dogs Deserve Better protestors.

His statement follows (from the We Stand with Olympic Animal Sanctuary Facebook page):

Robin Budin and Tamira Thayne have come to my home town to tell me to give them my dog, or else. For many of you, this is your home town, too, but even if it isn't, you can understand why they have not been warmly received. These two want you to see them as heroes and martyrs, but it's not hard to see what's really going on. They talk a lot about my use of donated funds, so let's talk about theirs.

How much do you suppose this trip is costing? Airfare to Seattle from the east coast, lodging at the most expensive place in town (rooms range from $115-175/night in winter), rental car and gas, meals, not to mention the winter clothes they had to buy because they didn't come prepared, sign money, BAIL MONEY AND SUBSEQUENT LEGAL FEES after Thayne was intentionally arrested for violating an anti-harassment order... And by the way, the terms of that order were pretty reasonable: stay 500 feet or more from OAS, don't stalk me, and don't contact me. But getting back to the money...

Do the math -- $5,000 would be a very conservative estimate. These two say they are here to help the dogs, but how does this help? And what kind of real help could $5,000 have bought? About THREE TONS of decent dog food -- enough to feed all the dogs at OAS for several weeks. $5,000 would pay off about half our outstanding vet bills. $5,000 would cover our utility bills for a couple years. And even if the money wasn't given to OAS, think of the dogs DDB could save with $5,000, if that's what they were really about.

But it's not about helping dogs, it's about getting publicity for Thayne and Budin. Thayne especially craves attention. A friend said to me today that DDB supporters hold Thayne up as some kind of idol -- he called her their "golden calf," an apt description that lends itself to a host of new nicknames. (I'm tempted to list a few but I'll leave that to people on Facebook.) But regardless of what you call her, it doesn't take much to see that Thayne is all about publicity and her own ego, and Budin is her halfwit sidekick. They make quite a pair, staging their two-person protests across the country, wasting thousands upon thousands of dollars, and ignoring animals in actual need that they could be helping.

DDB is spending thousands of dollars on a failed attempt to harass me into giving them Sonny, a dog I took off his chain, not DDB. A dog I rescued a second time in the middle of the night, not DDB. A dog I have worked with and gotten to know, not DDB. I will not give Sonny to Tamira Thayne. I will not send him to live at Michael Vick's house. I will not let let DDB kill him like they have killed so many other dogs they claimed they were rescuing. Thayne and Budin are liars, and fortunately for us, they're bad ones. The things they're saying about me and about OAS are so idiotic, one is tempted to believe they are satire. Investigate these two for yourself. I'm confident you'll learn the truth about them.

The OAS situation is not about the DDB representatives - it is about the conditions inside of the warehouse where over 100 dogs are held.

It is the humble opinion of the National Dog News Examiner that if Markwell would like to quiet the hundreds of people who are concerned for the dogs' welfare, he should invite a few city officials inside for a tour; photos of the current conditions should then be published for everyone to see.

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I am human, if you see a typo, please let me know. Questions, comments or story ideas can be emailed to



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