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Best Friends issues statement about contact with Markwell and OAS attorney

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On Thursday afternoon, Barbara Williamson, media relations manager at Best Friends Animal Society, issued an official statement about the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Wash.

Williamson stated:

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.

Prior article about Olympic Animal Sanctuary here.

Individuals still hoping to see Markwell officially investigated can voice their concerns to: Rod Fleck, Forks, WA City Attorney: rodf.forks@centurytel.net Fax (360) 374-9430.

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