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Founder of Olympic Animal Shelter in Forks, Wash. announces facility's closure

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On Saturday, Dec. 14, KOMO 4 News reported that the Olympic Animal Shelter, which has been embroiled in controversy for months, is set to close soon.

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Founder Steve Markwell announced on Saturday night that the shelter will close as soon as arrangements have been made for placing the dogs. The controversy surrounding the animal shelter involved two arrests, including Markwell's on Thursday, Dec. 12. and animal activist and Dogs Deserve Better CEO Tamira Thayne, who was arrested for violating a restraining order last week.

The Olympic Animal Sanctuary was originally founded to provide refuge to dogs who would otherwise be euthanized. The non-profit dog facility, located in a warehouse in Forks, Wash., houses dozens of dogs, including those deemed to be "dangerous".

Markwell's announcement stated: "I started OAS to provide a home for dogs whose behavioral problems required specialized long-term care. Since the only other option was a death sentence, OAS accepted more abused and troubled dogs than I ever planned to. This meant conditions were not perfect, but the dogs were always fed well, sheltered adequately, and provided veterinary care and expert rehabilitation.

"Three weeks ago, a veterinarian visited the sanctuary, examined every dog, and verified that they all were having their health and medical needs appropriately met."

According to a 2012 Forks police report, many dogs were housed within travel crates without continuous access to water. The report also stated that the animals were only fed raw animal parts once or twice weekly.

Markwell continued: "Beginning a year ago, a disgruntled ex-volunteer whom I fired partnered with extreme 'animal rights' groups that oppose all no kill sanctuaries to put OAS out of operation, get our dogs killed, and blame me for it."

The 2012 Forks police report stated that photos of the facility showed dog waste, crowding from equipment, and crates stacked one on top of another. The stench from the animals allegedly made one volunteer vomit.

Markwell continued: Despite allowing the press (such as Peninsula Daily News and Inside Bainbridge), fellow rescuers, and veterinarians inside OAS’ facility to disprove the allegations, the anti-OAS campaigns have ignored the evidence that the claims against us are false...

...I am offering to transfer OAS’ dogs to the one organization with the resources to take appropriate care of them: Best Friends Animal Society. Best Friends is a world-renowned no-kill sanctuary that referred a number of OAS’ dogs to me in the first place. They have the staff, expertise, land, financial resources, and philosophy to give OAS’ dogs the best chance they can ever have for a good life.

If Best Friends and their no-kill partners will agree to take OAS’ dogs, care for them for their entire natural lives, and not transfer them to any other person or organization unequipped to provide the specialized care they require, my attorney will negotiate the details with them. Once the specifics are arranged, I will transfer the dogs and dissolve Olympic Animal Sanctuary.

I strongly encourage Best Friends to accept this offer, and I encourage everyone – OAS supporters, opponents, and everyone in between – to contact Best Friends and ask them to take these dogs. They can be reached at:

Phone: (435) 644 2001


Email: info @ bestfriends . org



He added: "This transfer will be jeopardized if the anti-OAS groups continue to encourage harassment and threats against innocent parties such as my mother, friends, and ex-board members. The sole motivation at OAS has always been to give otherwise hopeless dogs a chance at a decent life. I hope Best Friends accepts my offer and does just that."

Kim Koon, Director of Investigations and Rescue Operations at Pasado's Safe Haven in Washington state, supported Markwell's decision.

"Pasado's is very pleased with Markwell's decision. We'll do anything we can to support these special dogs to ensure that they get the care that they need," she stated today.

Updates to this story will be posted as they occur.

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