Animal group steps in to aid in transportation of Forks dogs to new homes

By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News

GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. — A nationwide organization of volunteers is expected to help Guardians of Rescue with the care and transport of dogs that were taken to Arizona from Forks.

“We are beginning to transport dogs out to approved rescues,” Guardians of Rescue said in a Facebook post Tuesday afternoon.

“We will be joined by Red Rover tomorrow who will be deploying experienced volunteers to help us with the feeding and care of the dogs,” the post said.

Red Rover is a national animal organization that specializes in transporting and housing dogs after crises that involve large numbers of animals, such as natural disasters.

Guardians of Rescue also gave the 124 dogs from the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks a new name.

The dogs, who were taken to Golden Valley, Ariz., by OAS founder Steve Markwell, are no longer the OAS dogs but the OASIS dogs, according to the Guardians of Rescue Facebook page.

Robert Misseri, president of Smithtown, N.Y.-based Guardians of Rescue, was not available for more information on the rescue operation and name change on Tuesday.

Markwell did not respond to requests for comment Tuesday.

Markwell left Forks in the early morning hours of Dec. 21, in a 53-foot tractor trailer equipped with built-in wood kennels, and arrived at Golden Valley on Christmas Eve to end a 1,300 mile drive.

The dogs are being kept at the Rescued Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation — or RUFFF — shelter in Golden Valley, a desert about 23 miles east of Bullhead City.

RUFFF is experiencing its own financial difficulties, according to its website at www.rufffhouse.org.

Known as RUFFF House, founded in 2000, the organization houses dogs and some farm animals on a 40 acre property.

Founder Hillarie Allison told the Mohave Valley Daily News that she needs $15,000 to catch up on mortgage payments before the property is sold at a trustee sale scheduled for March 24.

She said she has raised about half of the funds needed to keep the property, the newspaper said.

Before the OAS dogs arrived, RUFFF’s sprawling desert sanctuary was home to 136 dogs, the rescue’s website said.

The arrival of the Forks dogs boosted that number to 320 dogs on the property.

RUFFF does not have custody of the 124 OAS dogs, but is providing temporary space to Guardians of Rescue.

Guardians of Rescue formally acquired ownership of the dogs last weekend.

Markwell had been under pressure from protesters who began gathering Dec. 2 at the OAS pink warehouse at 1021 Russell Road in Forks over alleged poor conditions for the dogs inside the two-story building.

They had come from outside Forks fueled by a year-long Facebook campaign that showed photos depicting dogs living in travel crates, and which were said to have been taken inside by former volunteers and Forks police.

In the first release of dogs from Guardians of Rescue, an undisclosed number of dogs were taken by two participating dog rescue groups on Monday.

As of Tuesday, the remaining wooden crates had been removed from the tractor-trailer used by Markwell to transport the dogs, according to the Guardians’ Facebook posts and photos.

Additional photos of the dogs and of the volunteers’ construction efforts also have been posted on the Facebook page.

Some of the crates are now used as shelter for dogs in kennels, and others are used to contain dogs that are known to escape from the temporary hurricane-fence kennels being erected on the RUFFF property.

Animal rescue organizations from Nevada and Arizona have stepped up to help the dogs.

Empty Bowl Pet Food Pantry of Phoenix has gathered more than 3,000 pounds of food, as well as crates and dog beds, according to the Empty Bowl Facebook page.

Guardians of Rescue is asking to items on http://tinyurl.com/gor-wishlist.

For more information about Guardians of Rescue, 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 31. 2013 6:17PM
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