Former donor Sherie Maddox is suing Steve Markwell, the owner of OAS, for the amount of her donation, $50,000, plus interest as well as legal fees, citing "breach of contract and misuse of a restricted donation," as the reason for the suit.
Maddox donated $50,000 in July 2012 to Markwell; according to a prior Peninsula Daily News publication, the donated funds were to be utilized to help him secure a new facility for the 120-plus dogs who are held at his OAS facility.
Shortly after the donation was received, Markwell stated:
Ideally, we are looking for a sizable property far away from residential neighborhoods but within easy driving distance of Port Angeles or Sequim,”
At the time, Markwell noted that the donation was "just a start," and added:
We need much more help to reach a funding level at which we can purchase a plot of land and complete our estimated $100,000 Phase 1 of construction,”
Unfortunately, the $50,000 donation did not go towards a new facility - today, the dogs are all still located inside of the 4,000-square-foot warehouse and Markwell has stated that the funds from Maddox went towards food for the dogs.
Markwell is denying that the funds had to be utilized for a new facility - he claims that Maddox told him that the money could be used as he "saw fit."
Today, Maddox refers to herself as a "former supporter" of Markwell and OAS, and she has expressed dismay that he has continued to acquire dogs; she stated:
He says he is over capacity and under funded, but can't say no to taking in a litter of 10 puppies (from Port Angeles, which is over an hour away from him) that have to be bottle-fed, and one of the puppies cost over $1,000 in vet expenses?
Come on! This man is irresponsible at best, and very possibly a hoarder.
The Maddox lawsuit is not Markwell's only legal problem; 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.
Pressure continues to mount from critics of the sanctuary - people who are concerned for the welfare of the dogs who live inside of the warehouse and Markwell's lack of transparency.
According to Dogs Deserve Better, New York lawyer Susan Chana Lask, has taken up the effort to help learn more about what is happening behind the warehouse's closed doors.
Supporters of OAS insist that changes have been made to the facility and that the dogs are in good hands.
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