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Owner of Olympic Animal Sanctuary agrees to release dogs

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Steve Markwell, the founder/owner of the beleaguered Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Wash., released a statement about the facility on Saturday.

Following a week which consisted of protests, lawsuits and an arrest of Markwell himself, following an alleged assault on one of the protesters, the following statement was released:

Hello to All Olympic Sanctuary Friends!! Here is a message from Steve Markwell:

The sole motivation at Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS) has always been to give otherwise hopeless dogs a chance at a decent life.

I started OAS to provide a home for dogs whose behavioral problems required specialized long-term care. These dogs were so dangerous, difficult to handle, or came with such troubling histories that the only other organizations that would accept them did so for the specific purpose of executing them.

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, nonetheless, the dogs were always fed well, sheltered adequately, and provided veterinary care and expert rehabilitation. Three weeks ago, a vet visited the sanctuary, examined every dog, and verified that they all were having their health and medical needs appropriately met.

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. With the help of the animal rights extremists, she was able to create a social media firestorm that has lasted for a year using false accusations of abuse, neglect, and cover-ups.

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. This is largely because the main goals of our opponents – discrediting me personally and killing OAS’ dogs – have nothing to do with the conditions the dogs live in.

The campaign against OAS has become so extreme that anyone who has ever been affiliated with me has been on the receiving end of countless harassing phone calls, e-mails, death threats, and organized campaigns to get them fired from their jobs. A “protester” recently violated a restraining order and was arrested on my property, and now there is a campaign to harass my mother, a woman in her sixties, at her home in California, and to get her fired from her job. My mother resigned from OAS' board of directors in September.

Given the intensity and hysteria of these groups, I sincerely believe that one of their members will snap at any moment and physically hurt someone close to me, or OAS’ dogs. I also worry that the damage done to OAS’ reputation will prevent it from ever having the fundraising base needed to give these dogs the type of life that I want them to have. Previous attempts to reach out to other no-kill organizations equipped to care for my dogs have been unsuccessful.

For these reasons, 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 think this gives OAS’ dogs the best chance they will ever have of happy and healthy lives. 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





I want to make clear that 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. I am making this offer to increase the safety of OAS’ dogs and those close to me, and I will not continue to engage if I feel like it is only inflaming the dangerously disturbed personalities that are threatening citizens simply for trying to help the dogs.

In closing, I want to restate that 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.

Steve Markwell
Founder and Executive Director of Olympic Animal Sanctuary

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