Health report on Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs due today
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Dr. Dalen Sites, of the Mohave Valley Animal Clinic, along with vet tech Jeri Gilmore, performs an exam on one of the 124 Olympic Animal Sanctuary dogs that arrived Christmas Eve at RUFFF, a rescue sanctuary in Golden Valley, Ariz. Mohave Valley Daily News

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — A full veterinary report on the 124 dogs — and one python — from the Olympic Animal Sanctuary will be complete today, said Robert Misseri, president of Smithtown, N.Y.-based Guardians of Rescue, which is organizing the eventual distribution of the dogs to other rescue groups.

No media or television cameras have been allowed onto the Rescued Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation (RUFFF) shelter in Golden Valley, Ariz., about 23 miles east of Bullhead City, where the dogs are being kept while waiting for other rescue organizations to take them, Misseri said.

“The biggest challenge is being in a remote part of the U.S. with limited supplies,” he said Sunday.

The property where the dogs are located is an hour from the nearest store that carries the kind of hardware needed to build 124 kennels.

“It’s just crazy down here. If we could have done this in Forks, we wouldn’t be in this predicament,” Misseri said.

On Dec. 21, OAS founder Steve Markwell loaded the dogs into a 53-foot tractor trailer equipped with built-in wood kennels, then called Guardians of Rescue to tell them he was on the road.

A day later, plans were solidified for Markwell to meet Guardians volunteers at RUFFF, but the location was kept under wraps until Friday, when the dogs were legally transferred to the Guardians.

Protesters began gathering at the 4,000-square-foot warehouse at 1021 Russell Road in Forks on Dec. 2 and picketed the sanctuary 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 the facility down for more than a year.

Markwell has denied mistreating the animals.

He has not returned calls from the Peninsula Daily News since he left the Forks sanctuary.

Markwell is expected to depart the RUFFF property today or tomorrow, Misseri said.

Many of the dogs at the shelter are considered violent and unadoptable.

Misseri said that most of the dogs have proven to be friendly toward people and can be handled by volunteers but cannot be placed with other dogs, complicating matters for kenneling.

“If we could put five dogs in one kennel, it would be easier,” he said.

The wood transport crates are being removed from the trailer and will be left at the shelter, some of which may be used as temporary shelter for dogs that cannot be safely secured in the hurricane fence kennels built by volunteers, he said.

As of Sunday, Misseri reported there were still not enough outdoor kennels for the dogs, and Guardians volunteers were having difficulty finding enough supplies to complete the kennels.

Misseri, who is a producer for “The Diamond Collar,” a new reality TV show about a mobster-turned-groomer and dog rescuer, said the show has already wrapped up filming and was not involved in the OAS rescue.

“The show had nothing to do with [the OAS rescue] at all. There is no filming,” he said.

Misseri was a member of the cast of another rescue reality show, “Rescue Ink Unleashed,” which ran for a single season in 2009, on the National Geographic Channel.

“Rescue Ink” featured bikers who put their checkered pasts behind them to operate an animal rescue organization.

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

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

The location chosen for the meeting, RUFFF, which currently has mostly elderly or medically difficult dogs, is also having difficulties.

On Dec. 11, the shelter asked for donations to cover $15,000 in back payments on the property where the kennel is located.

According to posts on the RUFFF Facebook page, the shelter received a notice stating it needed to make the payment or the property would be sold.

About a third of the amount has been donated, RUFFF announced Saturday.

The Guardians of Rescue has worked with RUFFF in the past but is not involved in the donations to keep the shelter open, Misseri said.


Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at

Last modified: December 29. 2013 11:26PM
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