Utah animal sanctuary still not contacted by Forks shelter owner
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Olympic Animal Sanctuary supporters Katherine Davis and Karlie Hansen, left, hold their counterprotest sign Monday as two unidentified protesters who oppose the shelter stand at right. —Photo by Christi Baron/for Peninsula Daily News

By Rob Ollikainen
Peninsula Daily News

FORKS — As protests pro and con continued at Olympic Animal Sanctuary on Monday, a spokeswoman with a Utah dog sanctuary said her organization still had not been contacted by the owner of the embattled Forks shelter about the transfer of 125 dogs.

Olympic Animal Sanctuary owner Steve Markwell announced three days before that he plans to move the unadoptable dogs from a 4,000-square-foot West End warehouse to the 3,700-acre Best Friends Animal Society in Kanab, Utah.

“We've actually not had any contact with Steve Markwell,” said Best Friends Animal Society spokeswoman Barbara Williamson in a Monday interview.

“At this point, I would not make any assumptions that any of the dogs are coming here. That is not an assumption that should be made.”

Williamson issued a statement Sunday saying Best Friends had asked Markwell to “get in touch with us directly and provide the information we'll need to begin assessing the feasibility of providing assistance.”

Absent that communication, Williamson would not comment on the process of transferring the dogs, nor would she say whether she felt Best Friends was “set up” by Markwell.

“We'll stick with the statement,” Williamson said.

“The next step is for him contact us. Until that happens, there's nothing else that we can say.

Markwell did not immediately return a phone call seeking comment Monday.

Best Friends runs the nation's largest no-kill sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals.

The no-kill Olympic Animal Sanctuary specializes in the care of dangerous dog, Markwell said in a Saturday email announcing his plans to make an offer to Best Friends to take the dogs so he can close the Forks shelter.

“They have the staff, expertise, land, financial resources and philosophy to give OAS's dogs the best chance they can ever have for a good life,” Markwell wrote.

“If Best Friends and their no-kill partners will agree to take OAS's dogs, care for them for their entire natural lives and not transfer them to any other person or organization unequipped to provide the specialized care they require, my attorney will negotiate the details with them.”

He added: “Once the specifics are arranged, I will transfer the dogs and dissolve Olympic Animal Sanctuary.”

The West End sanctuary at 1021 Russell Road has been the epicenter of daily protests since Dec. 3.

On Monday, protesters and counterprotesters held signs in support of and against Markwell's operation.

Maggie McDowell, one of the protest organizers, did not return calls seeking comment.

Last Friday, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer ruled that Markwell had not been served proper legal notice of a court hearing in which Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation of Seattle sought to have a pit bull named LeRoy returned.

Rohrer's ruling meant that the pit bull can stay at the Olympic Animal Sanctuary through at least the end of this week.

The court hearing was rescheduled for this Friday in Port Angeles.

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5072, or at rollikainen@peninsuladailynews.com.

Last modified: December 16. 2013 6:53PM
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