All 124 dogs from Olympic Animal Sanctuary safe, animal rescue group spokesman says
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Guardians of Rescue
A photo on the Guardians of Rescue Facebook page shows crates in the back of a truck. An animal can be seen peering from within a crate.

By Paul Gottlieb
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — Steve Markwell and all of his 124 Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs arrived intact Tuesday afternoon at an unidentified private dog sanctuary in the area of the Arizona-Nevada border, an animal rescue group spokesman said today.

Markwell, who did not return calls for comment Wednesday, left Saturday from his Forks-based sanctuary, piloting a 53-foot tractor trailer loaded with the crated animals.

The dogs, many of them considered violent and unadoptable, had been housed at Markwell’s 4,000-square-foot warehouse at 1021 Russell Road, where protesters had gathered daily for about three weeks earlier this month to protest what they said were the sanctuary’s inhumane conditions.

Photos depicting dogs living in travel crates purported to have been taken inside by former volunteers and Forks police have been at the center of a Facebook campaign to shut it down for more than a year.

Markwell has denied mistreating the animals.

“They all arrived safely,” said Robert Misseri, president of Smithtown, N.Y.-based Guardians of Rescue, which is organizing the rescue and eventual distribution of the dogs to other rescue groups.

“We fully expect this to take many, many months.”

Misseri said Markwell insisted as a condition for working with Guardians of Rescue that the location of the sanctuary not be made public until Markwell leaves.

“He is fearing for his life,” Misseri said.

“He told me his life was threatened.

“My concern is that if the location gets out before he leaves, he may leave with many of the dogs.”

Many of the dogs were being placed in kennels Wednesday outside their new, temporary home, Misseri said.

But others that may be inclined to, and were capable of, ripping through kennel fencing that had been obtained were being kept in 4-foot-by-4-foot crates until sturdier fencing is acquired, he said.

All the dogs are being adequately walked and fed, Misseri said.

Since 2008, Markwell has been taking in “bad dogs” from across the nation, canines that have been deemed dangerous and would otherwise be euthanized.

On its Facebook page, Guardians of Rescue said: “Upon arrival of Olympic Sanctuary dogs, we are happy to report the truck has ample ventilation, it was climate controlled.The temp was 66 degrees and very accessible kennels front to back.”
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Senior Staff Writer Paul Gottlieb can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5060, or at pgottlieb@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 25. 2013 2:37PM
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