Steve Markwell from Olympic Animal Sanctuary is one of the few rescuers in this country who works primarily with, as the group’s website states, “dogs you’d rather see dead”. He handles dogs who have been chained 24/7 all their lives, dogs who bite, feral dogs and other dogs most of us would not have the skills to approach responsibly. He’s very good at what he does. I value his opinion. As such, I sent him these videos from the security camera footage at MAS and asked him to comment for the blog. While I realize Steve’s specialty is different from the typical dogs at MAS where the overwhelming majority are regular pets, I thought his unique perspective would add value to the discussion Here is what he had to say:
A catch pole can be used gently, as a safety device, or it can be used as a weapon. When you buy one, it comes with instructions that specifically instruct users not to drag animals or to lift them off the ground. Virtually anyone could be given the instruction page and could make an informed judgment that these videos display a grossly inappropriate use of this product. Unfortunately, there is a larger issue at hand, which is that the behavior of the officer in the videos is cruel, it’s deliberate, and it’s completely unnecessary. I can think of no circumstance where this type of handling is warranted or acceptable. For the vast majority of fearful dogs, spending a few extra minutes makes it possible to avoid using a catch pole altogether, and for the tiny remainder that pose an actual threat to the handler, they should be maneuvered into a secure carrier so as to minimize the length of time that they are snared. If necessary, the dog’s weight is easily calculated by weighing the dog in the carrier, then weighing the empty carrier and subtracting the result from the original weight. It is abundantly clear that the intent of officer in these videos is torture, and the cold indifference evident in this person’s body language is alarming, and suggestive of a violent, dangerous individual. That such behavior would be tolerated and that such a person would be allowed to continue to work with animals is truly horrifying.
Thank you Steve for sharing your insight and for doing the important work you do.