Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs en route to invitation-only transferral
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A hole in the fence around the Olympic Animal Sanctuary was used to load dogs from the shelter into a waiting truck. — Christi Baron for the Peninsula Daily News

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — Steve Markwell was reported to be on the road Sunday with 124 dogs from the Olympic Animal Sanctuary, and finally had a place to go.

“There is a destination. We expect him to arrive within 24 hours,” Robert Misseri, president of Smithtown, N.Y.-based Guardians of Rescue, said Sunday.

Misseri said the undisclosed location was “in a warmer climate” and that it would remain secret to all but those who were invited to help find new homes for the dogs, for the safety and security of the transfer.

Markwell departed Forks early Saturday morning in a truck and a 53-foot trailer, which was loaded with dogs from the pink warehouse at 1021 Russell Road in Forks.

The truck was reported to have been parked at Pete Wilder Trucking, located next door to OAS, and backed to their shared fence.

On Sunday, a large hole could be seen in the fence between the truck yard and the OAS property.

The fence belongs to Markwell, so there was no crime committed in removing planks from the fence, said Forks Police Chief Rick Bart.

According to photos taken at the property, it appears Markwell used the back door of the warehouse and loaded the dogs through the fence and into cages he built into the trailer.

The trailer is reported to be climate-controlled, and the dogs are in cages constructed inside the trailer, Misseri said.

A veterinarian and representatives from animal rescue agencies across the country are expected to meet Misseri and Markwell at the undisclosed location to take the dogs to new homes, he said.

Misseri said that once the dogs arrive, a photographer will take pictures as the dogs are unloaded, examined and other organizations take custody of the dogs.

The photos will be released to the news media to document the transfer process and the conditions of the dogs, he said.

Markwell has not reported any difficulties with crossing state lines with the dogs, nor any interaction with law enforcement, while on the road.

Guardians of Rescue is not taking delivery of the dogs directly, Misseri explained.

“Our role begins when he arrives; if and when he arrives,” he said.

The location is a closely guarded secret, and Misseri said he was uncertain which organizations will be at the meeting location.

“We hope all of the groups will stick to their word and step up,” he said.

Best Friends Animal Society of Kanab, Utah, has bowed out of the situation.

“They won't be coming [to Utah],” said Barbara Williamson, spokeswoman for Best Friends.

Protesters have been picketing OAS since Dec. 2, and a major demonstration called “Save the Voiceless” was planned Sunday afternoon.

According to the Facebook page for the protest, 132 people had said they were planning to attend, but only eight arrived in Forks for the protest at the corner of Bogachiel Way and Main Street.

The protesters were from Seattle, Oregon and Port Angeles and were peaceful, Bart said.

The protestors declined to identify themselves, and two claimed to be affiliated with Anonymous Seattle.

An Anonymous Seattle member who wore a Guy Fawkes mask and only identified himself as “Brian” said the representatives of the loose-knit organization were in Forks to lend logistical support to the protesters and help “if things escalated.”

Brian said he thought Markwell meant to do well and might have with 60 dogs but not 120 dogs.

“Who leaves, and why, if they have nothing to hide?” he asked.

Protester Maggie McDowell, a Seattle-area dog lover who has been a part of past OAS protests, said she was not in Forks on Sunday but said she was aware that Markwell had a location to meet with rescue organizations.

“I am hoping he can get to his destination safely with the dogs,” McDowell said Sunday.

An activist blogger Sunday claimed to have photographs from inside the building, taken Saturday, after the dogs were removed.

There is no evidence of who entered the building, when they entered and when or where the photos were taken, Bart said.

If there was proof that they entered the building illegally, the person who took the photos could be facing jail time, he said.

Bart confirmed there have been threats against Markwell, Forks police officers and against himself.

He said the department has documented evidence of some of the threats and is seeking more information on others.

“We have names associated and pictures,” Bart said.

The department is seeking more information and forensics assistance from other agencies to determine if they can make arrests for the threats, he said.

________

Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at arwyn.rice@peninsuladailynews.com.

Forks Forum Editor Christi Baron contributed to this report.

Last modified: December 23. 2013 12:47AM
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