Protester of dog shelter in Forks arrested for violating restraining order

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS – One of two protesters demanding the release of a dog named Sonny from Steve Markwell’s Olympic Animal Sanctuary was scheduled to appear in Forks District Court to set a hearing date on charges she violated an anti-harassment order against Markwell.

Tamira Thayne, founder and CEO of Smithfield, Va., based Dogs Deserve Better, was jailed Friday, Forks police said, for allegedly violating a court order to stay 500 feet away from Markwell and his sanctuary when she stood in the driveway of the pink warehouse at 1021 Russell Road with a sign reading “I’m here for the dogs, they need help.”

Forks authorities said Thayne intentionally violated the order issued Thursday.

“She told me her intent was to get arrested,” Police Administrator Rick Bart said.

“Based on what I saw on Friday, she was way, way, way within the area that she should have been,” City Attorney Rod Fleck said.

Bart said officers, when they served the order, showed Thayne and Robin Budin where they could and could not stand to comply with it.

Markwell said he sought the protection order after volunteers and friends were allegedly harassed when they tried to visit the sanctuary.

“They were coming after the vehicles of my volunteers, blocking them from coming and going. It was really intense,” Markwell said.

Thayne was jailed for three hours before she was bailed out by Budin.

“It’s the dogs who are suffering. You can never make me suffer to the extent that they have suffered, so I was prepared to endure the worst,” Thayne wrote of the arrest in a posting on her website.

Founded by Markwell in 2006, Olympic Animal Sanctuary houses 128 dogs, Markwell told the Peninsula Daily News in October.

Most of those dogs have been ordered executed for aggressive behavior, Markwell said. The sanctuary’s motto is “we save dogs you’d rather see dead.”

The sanctuary has been the target of a social media campaign to have it shut down for the better part of a year.

Opponents said Markwell is abusing the dogs, not providing them with adequate food, water or exercise.

City officials said they have found no grounds to shut his sanctuary down.

A citation for animal cruelty was written by Forks police after a November 2012 investigation but was never issued.

Thayne and Budin began picketing in front of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary on Dec. 3.

Since, they have been joined by several supporters, including some over the weekend who marched through Forks on Nov. 14 to demand that city officials shut down the sanctuary and order Markwell to give his dogs to other dog rescue organizations.

Thayne and Budin first announced they planned the protest at Forks to retrieve Sonny on self-proclaimed animal medium Laura Stinchfield’s Pet Psychic radio show Nov. 21.

They allegedly spoke with Sonny through Stinchfield, saying, “Let him know we are coming for him.”

In 2011, Thayne took over NFL quarterback Michael Vick’s former Vick Bad Newz Kennels, a dog-fighting compound, in Virginia and is transforming it to Good Newz Rehab.

Markwell said Sonny was placed in his sanctuary by a representative of Thayne’s Dogs Deserve Better rescue organization after the dog’s owner was stricken with Alzheimer’s disease and Sonny attacked a member of the foster family he was placed with.

Markwell said the campaign against his shelter is driven by a vendetta of former volunteers.

Since the campaign began, Markwell has reported donations dropping off, limiting his ability to properly care for the dogs.

Last month, fundraisers led in Olympia and Forks raised more than a half-ton of dog food for Olympic Animal Sanctuary, though Markwell said the food lasted only for a couple of days.

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Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at jsmillie@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 09. 2013 6:57PM
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