Processing continues for dogs from Forks at desert mystery site
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Some of the Forks dogs are shown in the newly constructed day run on the Southwest desert in this photo provided by Guardians of Rescue.

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

Guardians of Rescue continued to examine and process the 124 dogs from Olympic Animal Sanctuary at an undisclosed location in the Southwest on Thursday, said the head of the animal rescue group.

Steve Markwell, director of the Forks-based sanctuary, is assisting with identifying each dog and the behavior issues and special needs of each animal, said Robert Misseri, president of Smithtown, N.Y.-based Guardians of Rescue, which is organizing the rescue and eventual distribution of the dogs to animal welfare groups capable of managing the animals.

Markwell has not returned daily calls requesting comment since he spoke with a Peninsula Daily News reporter on Saturday.

Guardians of Rescue has temporary physical control of the animals and expects to take permanent control by today, Misseri has said.

Markwell left Saturday from his Forks-based sanctuary, driving a 53-foot tractor-trailer loaded with the crated animals and arrived with them to a site near the Nevada-Arizona border on Tuesday afternoon.

Misserie has declined to disclose the location, saying that Markwell has made non-disclosure for the duration of his stay a condition for working with Guardians of Rescue.

All the dogs were safe, Misseri said.

Of the 124 dogs that arrived, 16 have been featured in photos released by Guardians of Rescue since Tuesday afternoon.

Many of the dogs have a history of violence toward humans or other animals.

At Olympic Animal Sanctuary, dogs Markwell described as not “realistically adoptable” because of their behavior were housed in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse at 1021 Russell Road in Forks.

Protesters had gathered there daily since early December 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 nationwide Facebook campaign to shut it down for more than a year.

Markwell has denied mistreating the animals.

On Thursday morning, Misseri was traveling from his home in New York to the unidentified site, where volunteers have built kennels for the dogs.

Each dog will be checked by a veterinarian, microchipped, and matched with a file detailing the dog's needs and history before being offered to responding dog rescue organizations, Misseri said.

Misseri said the organization will continue to release additional information and photos as volunteers can.

He has said that it will take several weeks to fully process every dog that arrived with Markwell, and begin the process of releasing each to qualified rescues.

The organization has spent more than $5,000 on the efforts so far, Misseri said, and is seeking help in providing food, kennels and veterinary care for all of the animals.

The organization needs more kennels to house all of the dogs, some of which chew through hurricane fencing and will need other housing arrangements, he said.

Representatives of Forks Police Department and the State Patrol have stated that they are not seeking Markwell.

For more information about Guardians of Rescue or to donate funds to help feed, house and distribute the Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs, phone 888-287-3864 or visit the organization's website at www.guardiansofrescue.org.

Qualified rescue organizations willing to take one or more of the dogs can contact the organization at info.guardiansofrescue.org.

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

Last modified: December 26. 2013 7:07PM
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