Inside of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Wash., life, such as it may be, continues on, status quo...but outside of the warehouse doors, things are happening.
On Tuesday, Robert Pregulman, who writes the Seattle Dog Spot column, published his first hand recount of a visit to the remotely located "sanctuary," which took place this week...and the details provide little to comfort those who are concerned for the welfare of the dogs inside.
Pregulman stated that even though he had seen pictures, seeing the facility firsthand came as a "jolt":
The stark, metal building had several openings where the cold air could get in, junk and trash where strewn around the grounds, and the "exercise yard" remained empty the entire time we were there.
Pregulman stood outside of the warehouse for nearly five hours and during that time, he had the opportunity to speak with a man who works for the owner of the sanctuary, Steve Markwell.
The man, whose name is not mentioned, spent only one hour inside of the structure which holds 125 dogs - the rest of the time, the man sat inside of his truck, which was presumably helping to keep him warm from the cold weather; nobody else was observed entering the structure.
According to Pregulman, when asked about how to get Markwell to allow people to gain access to the inside of the warehouse, the man advised him to earn Markwell's trust - best done, apparently, by donating money to him.
Neighbors of OAS spoke under the condition of anonymity to Pregulman - they noted that the stench from OAS is often overwhelming, they expressed concern for the dogs who are locked inside, and one person advised that a family member worked inside of OAS, but had to quit because the conditions were "disgusting."
The name of the warehouse where these dogs spend every moment of their life is the Olympic Animal Sanctuary; by definition, a sanctuary is a place of peace, comfort and safety - not a warehouse.
If the dogs held by OAS are indeed residents of a "sanctuary," their life should include freedom and peace...they should be allowed outside on a regular basis to enjoy fresh air and exercise. If they are too dangerous to be out together, there should be enough volunteers and/or employees to ensure that dogs are constantly rotated in shifts to allow this to happen.
Protesters who have been outside of the facility over the course of the past week have seen little to no activity at the warehouse, and no dogs have been observed coming outside for fresh air and exercise.
In late May, Julie Hall who writes for Inside Bainbridge, concluded a three part series on OAS - in her final entry, she wrote:
OAS needs to be much better to be a true sanctuary. A sanctuary is in essence a place of peace. Perhaps for many of these unadoptable dogs there will never be peace. But the goal for each one of them should be a chance at peace.
Supporters of OAS continue to point to a few photos of improved kennel runs as proof that OAS is no longer the house of sorrow that was documented by volunteers and police officials in 2012 - Markwell continues to keep prying eyes out of the facility to see the conditions firsthand.
Critics cite the lack of transparency as glaring proof of wrong-doing.
Some individuals have stated that visitors are prohibited because the dogs are so dangerous - however, if the dogs are securely housed in the new kennel runs, logically speaking, there should be no danger.
As previously mentioned, things outside of OAS are escalating. On Tuesday, Dogs Deserve Better stated:
Tomorrow Wednesday 1PM we see the Deputy Prosecuting Attorney of Clallum County and Ron Peregrin the Chief Sheriff of Clallum County. Susan Chana Lask Esq. out of New York City has agreed to represent us for this OLYMPIC ANIMAL SANCTUARY undertaking.
Markwell has had his own lawyer for some time - it now appears that those concerned about the welfare of the dogs inside of OAS will have one as well (click here to find Susan Chana Lask on Facebook).
Prior story on the OAS situation, including current lawsuits against OAS, and a prior visit from local news agency here.
Click here to read the full story about this week's visit to OAS by the author of Seattle Dog Spot (links to officials in and around Forks can be found there as well).
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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 Eims1@live.com.