Help Get Mario Home

Steve Markwell has become one of my heroes in a very short time.  He was so helpful in getting Mari(o) out of MAS and his dedication to saving the dogs many people “would rather see dead” is inspiring.  He has recently posted the story of Mario’s rescue from his own perspective and even if you followed events here as they unfolded, it’s well worth reading.

MAS is widely considered the worst shelter in America, although there are plenty of contenders to that title. […] There have been promises of reform, steps taken, and little tangible improvement in Memphis. The webcams that were installed in the shelter were supposed to show the public that MAS staff were doing a good job, treating the animals well, and that things were getting better. Unfortunately they merely revealed more abuse, more substandard care, and in the end, city employees filed a grievance, stating that the cameras made them feel unsafe. That’s right, the city employees were afraid that they might face retribution for their animal abuse caught on video, and their solution was not to stop abusing the animals, but rather, to remove the cameras. The city agreed with them.

Olympic Animal Sanctuary is raising funds for a cross country trip to pick up several dogs who can not be flown for one reason or another and bring them back to Washington.  Mario is one of the dogs waiting for a ride home.  If you are able to contribute towards this trip, please either donate online or mail a check to:

Olympic Animal Sanctuary
1021 Russell Rd.
Forks, WA 98331

Let them know your donation is to help get Mario home.  Thank you.

11 thoughts on “Help Get Mario Home

  1. YesBiscuit! I hate to tell you this but your hero is no hero to dogs. Photos of Steve Markwell’s Olympic Animal Sanctuary have been recently posted and they are very, very disturbing. There are many dogs living in crates, in filth, without clean water and little or no food, dogs in emaciated condition and some that obviously need medical attention. It’s been stated that some of these dogs have died, apparently of neglect and cruelty. What makes this even worse is that the AC there refuses to remove these dogs even though they have been given this proof. Please investigate this man and his sanctuary further and hopefully you will see that he is not saving lives. He has created a living hell for dogs and he needs to be shut down.

    This is the page that is trying to expose him…

    1. I looked at the photos but there is little context. For example, I don’t know if I am looking at photos of dogs who have just arrived at OAS or if they have been living there for some time. As with any group that focuses exclusively on the non-white & fluffies, I expect OAS will have some dogs who arrive in rough shape, who can not be acclimated to the environment as quickly as a regular pet would, etc.

      Is there any document available which outlines the allegations against OAS? Is there anyone who has provided eyewitness accounts of wrongdoing? Has anyone FOIA’d animal control or police records involving OAS (such as animal cruelty complaints/investigations), if any such records exist? If so, please let me know where to find this information. Without some sort of context, I find it impossible to arrive at any sort of informed opinion.

      I don’t jump to conclusions here. I ask questions and try to be fair. I have reached out to Steve Markwell about this and if he gives me permission to share any information, I will do that.

      1. Here is the response I received from Steve Markwell:

        Thank you for reaching out to me, as I am eager to address the malicious misinformation being spread about Olympic Animal Sanctuary. I appreciate that you asked me for my side of the story.

        We have a facility that cares for animals that literally no one else will take. The animals at OAS generally have no other option besides being put to death. Many pose serious challenges in their care, which can make even the most basic tasks difficult or dangerous, and obtaining volunteers in our rural area, with adequate abilities and willingness to deal with the risks involved, is extremely difficult. This is a challenging and expensive operation to run, and I do the best I can with the resources I have.

        The irony of this situation is that I was planning to announce that I had secured a new, much larger property for OAS that would allow me to greatly improve the quality of life for my animals. This leap forward has been the product of many months of hard work, but I fear it could be jeopardized by the unfortunate situation that arose this weekend.

        As things stand, conditions are not ideal, but I have sacrificed everything for these animals, and I am working hard to take care of them.

        That’s why I am so troubled by this misleading and dishonest Facebook page.

        A couple of years ago, I had a volunteer at OAS whose erratic behavior, poor performance, and inability to work with others had become troubling. At the time, I was reluctant to fire her due to my concerns about her stability and how she might try to take out her frustration on my nonprofit, which is my entire life. Due to the unique personality types that animal rescue attracts, most major dog rescues and sanctuaries have experienced similar situations, where disgruntled and unbalanced ex-volunteers make it their mission to discredit the organization that rejected them.

        On April 6, 2013, this disgruntled volunteer started a malicious Facebook page created to mislead the public about conditions at my facility. This page very openly admits that its purpose is to harass my nonprofit out of existence — a nonprofit she was very eager to be a part of before I rejected her.

        Her page consists of a series of misleading photos taken when I was away from the sanctuary and had left her in charge, which she uses to paint a bleak picture of my nonprofit and to motivate uninformed strangers to contact everyone from the police to my local city attorney to run my sanctuary out of business. It is a dishonest, malicious, and personally motivated attack that does not accurately represent the care I give my animals. It is also highly irresponsible, as most of my animals would not be accepted by any other reputable organization due to safety concerns — virtually guaranteeing that if OAS goes under, they will be killed.

        Over a long period of time, the person in question cherry-picked situations to make the sanctuary look bad for the specific purpose of serving a personal vendetta and discrediting me. There isn’t an animal facility on Earth where a determined volunteer couldn’t, over a long period of time, take photos that falsely characterize the conditions at the facility or the state of the animals. This ex-volunteer did everything she could to make things look bad, including staging photos. She utilized these photos recently to convince the local police to ask to inspect my sanctuary, which I consented to.

        Needless to say, we’re still here. Things are not perfect — we certainly could use more resources — but I take good care of animals with no other options.

        I do the best I can on a shoe-string budget that has suffered significantly under current economic conditions, and I am taking serious steps every week to improve the quality of life of my animals, such as obtaining the new property. What I need, more than anything, is money to allow me to incrementally continue to make a difference for the animals I have completely dedicated my life to helping. I receive no salary for the work I do, and I have played a central role in rescuing or rehabilitating hundreds of animals over the past several years.

        I empathize and understand why people would be concerned after seeing disturbing photographs, but I assure you that I take as good of care of my animals as our resources allow. Quite frankly, if I am guilty of anything, it is of trying to do too much. I hope this unfair attack will be seen for what it is.

        As counseled by my attorney, this is all I can say about this subject at this time as we explore legal remedies for this situation.

        In closing, I just would like to ask you, if you are concerned for my animals, to help me give them the best life possible by supporting my sanctuary. I am committed to fighting with everything I have to give the animals under my care their best possible chance to live a fulfilling life, and I hope you will look past this regrettable situation and support my work.

  2. Steve Markwell.. I’m NOT sorry to say… “I’m not buying your story”. Too many things you state threw Red Flags up!
    Since you knew/thought/suspected this person was unstable, why did you leave this person in charge? No kennel/crate is going to get that nasty in a 24 hour period (not that you quoted that time frame) A dead dog.. come on.. are you kidding me? And mold doesn’t not grow over night on hay/straw. And since your operating on a shoe string, why were you going anywhere at all? Wasn’t it your job to take care of these dogs? I am not buying this at all. This is my opinion and I hope they/someone does shut you down. That place is disgusting. Dogs can not be housed in kennel crates.
    Straw is unsanitary ,, the dogs lucky enough to have a kennel/run didn’t even have bed to get off that filth.

  3. After reading Steve Markwell’s response to the allegations I am MORE convinced that the allegations by the volunteer who took those pictures are true. As so often the case with whistle blowers the accused tries to discredit them in this case calling her unstable. More than once he admitted that “as things stand, conditions are not ideal” and that he is “taking serious steps every week to improve the quality of life of my animals”. Those comments alone alarm me!

    Perhaps he got in over his head by wanting to help more dogs than he is capable of. Every good rescuer must know their limitations and as hard as it is to turn dogs away they MUST if they cannot adequately provide a better quality of life. Some dogs are better off humanely euthanized than to spend the rest of their days crammed in small cages in unsanitary conditions.

    Until the blogger has seen with her own eyes the conditions at OAS I feel she should not endorse Steve Markwell or his sanctuary.

    1. If I only blogged about places I’ve seen with my own eyes, it would be a pretty short blog. Do you also encourage other media outlets to only report on stories they’ve seen with their own eyes? Because it’s an unreasonable standard. At any rate, there are NO ALLEGATIONS that have been made against OAS – just some FB pictures posted anonymously and without context.

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