Forks police inspect some dogs inside Olympic Animal Sanctuary

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS –– The dogs they saw inside Olympic Animal Sanctuary are in good health, according to police who inspected three of the dogs — and reported they could see about 40 — on Wednesday.

“The dogs they saw all seemed to be very healthy,” Police Administrator Rick Bart, the city’s de facto police chief, said today.

“It’s not the best conditions in the world, but he passes.”

Three of the reported 125 dogs inside Olympic Animal Sanctuary at 1021 Russell Road are registered as dangerous with the city.

Under city law, that requires annual inspection, Bart said.

Steve Markwell, director of the embattled Olympic Animal Sanctuary, allowed officers Mike Rowley and Todd Garcia inside the main floor of the 4,000-square-foot, two-story pink warehouse, but not the top floor, according to Bart.

While the inspection was only to check on the living conditions and security of the three dangerous dogs, Bart said the officers could see other portions of the sanctuary.

“From there, they could see about 40 dogs,” Bart said. “And they couldn’t see anything that was concerning or that they considered inhumane.”

Photos depicting dogs living in travel crates said 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 the past year.

“No crates, they couldn’t see any crates. They were in those big cages on the first floor,” Bart said of his officers’ report.

“But that’s on the first floor. He wouldn’t let us in any further than that.”

Bart said Wednesday’s inspection included reviews of permits, licenses and insurance coverage, as well as a review of the dogs’ living conditions and apparent health.

Critics concerned about the condition of the dogs inside had been protesting outside the sanctuary for weeks. Bart he has not seen protesters at the sanctuary the last two days.

On Saturday, citing weariness over the protests, Markwell announced he planned to work with a Utah dog rescue organization, Best Friends Animal Society, to find new homes for the dogs and then shut down his operation.

On Wednesday, he said he also has been in contact with Guardians of Rescue in New York, another animal rescue organization.

Markwell could not be reached for comment today.

Markwell has said he opened OAS to take in dogs declared too dangerous to adopt by courts around the country.


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

Last modified: December 19. 2013 1:22PM
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