Bringing Up from the Comments

Several people have written to me regarding photos of dogs and living conditions at Olympic Animal Sanctuary which have recently been posted to this Facebook page.  I am bringing up 2 recent comments from an old post about Mario, who was sent to live at Olympic Animal Sanctuary when the Memphis pound threatened to kill him.  The first comment is my response to a reader suggesting I look at the FB page with the photos and the second is a response I received from Steve Markwell, owner of Olympic Animal Sanctuary.  I want to make sure everyone interested has a chance to see the photos and read Steve’s letter in order to form their own opinions.

From YesBiscuit!:

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.

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.

This post was closed for comments, September 2013.

89 thoughts on “Bringing Up from the Comments

  1. ‘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.’

    OMG. Truer words were never spoken. And never described more diplomatically than this. Good for you for putting it this way. Those of us who have dealt with those personalities know EXACTLY what you are talking about. Good luck to you!

  2. As we all know, every coin has 2 sides and I thank Shirley for giving Steve the chance to explain his side of the story. I also know out of experience that no shelter/rescue/sanctuary is perfect and it always is work in progress. Disgruntled employees or volunteers are always difficult to deal with and we had our share with such situations too. If the Police was already there looking around and the Sanctuary still is open, I don’t really have that many concerns.

  3. I TOLD everyone that the dates on the pictures coincide with every single one of Steve’s road trips!!! I have been saying that on the OAS bash page but no one is listening to me or they are attacking me for saying it. Since Steve blocked me for “yelling” at him about the dogs, when I first seen the pictures no one can say that I was this making stuff up. I’m getting batter-rammed in there for jumping off the band wagon & asking questions… YB I emailed you.

    1. Well again, I don’t want to jump to any conclusions but if it can be proven that the timestamps on the photos line up with Steve’s well documented and publicized roadtrips to rescue dogs, I think there may be a case for fraud and possibly animal cruelty here – but not against OAS. I’m sure Steve’s lawyer is considering all options.

      1. I have slept for 45 minutes since that page went up, since I blasted Steve about the Eskimos I couldn’t ask any questions of him but I did go on his page, download every single picture that had a date & the conclusion I came to before you even posted this is that the pictures were all taken when he was on the road, there is only 1 picture I can’t confirm. I also called the prosecutor & researched EVERYONE involved… Thank God for cached internet pages!!!

  4. I really do not know what to think. Looking at the photos of the dogs housed there, it appears most are in very poor shape. Some appear to be starving. Of course, it does take money to take care of pets at a shelter. Not knowing all the history, I cannot make an informed or non biased decision. I believe he is trying, but surely, there is somewhere in that town that would be willing to help? I surely hope so.

  5. I donate to OAS when I can and have followed Steve Markwell’s work for several years. I was offline all weekend and just learned about this attack.

    Simply put, I don’t buy what the attacker is saying. It’s just inconceivable to me that someone like Markwell would treat dogs badly. And having seen many, many, many, many photos and videos of the dogs there — some of which included portions of the facilities — the photos on the FB attack page don’t match what I’ve previously viewed. They also don’t match how Markwell writes about his work, his many descriptions of behavioral and veterinary care he has provided, his nuanced and very deep understanding of the political/legal situation of difficult dogs, and his obvious commitment to enlarging the sanctuary for the future.

    What’s most disturbing to me is that sanctuaries, regardless of their character, often have no effective defense against this kind of attack. A barrage like this can take down the good as well as the bad. Markwell has done his best over the years to establish constructive working relationships with local law enforcement, and I hope that will help him withstand the pressure he is under right now. And I hope he has a superb lawyer who will help him deal with this quickly.

    The tone of the attack is utterly repellant, and the disconnect between what I’ve absorbed about OAS and the claims that are currently being made about the organization will make me doubt any attack on any sanctuary or rescue in the future.

    I was thrilled to learn that Markwell has secured a larger property. I hope he prevails over his accuser and emerges stronger.

    I just donated to show my continued support.

    1. Thank goodness we have people like you to provide clarity. It was difficult for me to think anyone could do what he is accused of doing, and his well written response shows he is responsible, and truly cares for the animals in his care. What a witchhunt this is by this person. Shame, shame on them.

    2. To be fair, there are few – if any – legal standards in place in regards to the oversight of sanctuaries. Sanctuaries are self-regulated, for the most part. Whistle blowers are often the only voice for the animals being mistreated on poorly run sanctuaries or rescues.

      Those pictures, staged or not, are worthy of an investigation IMO. Even if not staged, the conditions of some of those cages and crates are disconcerting to me.

      And I REALLY hate it when organizations throw out the mental illness card in response to criticism, valid or not. To call this ex-volunteer “unbalanced” is treading on thin ice – at the very least, it is inappropriate and unprofessional. Steve does not know if this person has a diagnosed mental illness or if that mental illness has anything to do with her accusations.

      I support sanctuaries for aggressive dogs, because they are much-needed. And I do so hope that OAS is in the right, that they are victims of a misguided smear campaign. Mostly, I hope the dogs are being treated well.

  6. REALLY??? If all is well with the dogs and these are old photos, then may I suggest that new photos are posted today. I am sorry his explanations are lame. In most of the paragraphs he talks about the need for more “resources”. 1. This is a challenging and expensive operation to run, and I do the best I can with the resources I have.” 2. “-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.” -3.”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.” 4. “but I assure you that I take as good of care of my animals as our resources allow” 5. “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”

    Whistleblowers always have to proof more than the person they are whistleblowing on…and this is the same answer most “accused” people give…it was a disgruntled employee or is never the accused person who is at fault. which is why so much that happens to these animals goes unreported, for the same type of accusations he is implying on the volunteer. The fear of reporting the horrendous conditions will come back to bite you, the whistleblower.

    1. Having the perspective of someone who has been involved with both sides of stories of animal shelter neglect/cruelty (whistleblowers and the facilities being reported on), I would offer this: Experience tells me that honest people do not hide and that facilities who falsely play the “disgruntled ex-employee” card typically combine it with “Everything here is really swell”. I note in this case that Steve is not hiding but rather doing the opposite of what many suspicious facilities do – publicly addressing the concerns. The person or persons who put up the FB page appear to have put their names to nothing – at least nothing I have seen. Further, Steve admits in his letter that conditions are not ideal, that he would like to do more for the dogs in his care and that he is working toward that goal. Again in my experience, unseemly facilities do not normally make these admissions.

      1. I am trying to understand both sides here…1. this volunteer is unstable and disgruntled…I would think to go public with this information the volunteer would have a lot of information to back them. 2. he isn’t hiding anything, he just isn’t showing photos..the new photos can fix everything…where are those? 3. And just because there are no names attached to a FB page doesn’t make this not legit. 4. and I too have worked with the Whistleblower and they do comment on the ex employee/volunteer and they downplay the wrong with words of well we could do better if we had more..$$$..and we didn’t know it was wrong….or if we only knew this was happening, it must of been going on while we were away….sorry it doesn’t set well with me, for one reason….show us the new photos of every dog that was posted….end of story.

  7. I checked on Steve Markwell before I agreed to help with Mari-O. He came with good recommendations and was highly respected by a very reputable group in his area, let alone other groups that deal with feral dogs. I have always found him to be accessible and straightforward with me. He has pictures and posted videos of Mari-O that tell a different story then that FB page. I agree with Peter. If the police have looked around and Olympic Animal Sanctuary is still open, then this appears to be just a disgruntled ex-volunteer.

  8. Steve—please post pictures this week—-with a newspaper in front of the animals so we can be sure of the date! Post pictures of the animals that the other group posted, and the areas they showed.
    Nothing would make me happier than to be proven wrong, but I think this will not happen.
    Asking for more money in every other sentence does not endear you to my heart, either!!!

    Words are words… us!

    Inviting local groups to visit your facility would be great!

  9. it does not matter if you were kidnapped by aliens at that time. you are responsible. pictures do not lie. conditions do not get like that overnight. no dog should live in a crate. those dogs are better off dead than living like that. the police do not care about animal cruelty. they do not want to get involved.

  10. Personally, it does not matter who took the pictures or when they were taken. The conditions in the facility are awful, and the dogs don’t even look healthy….one after another…..
    Some of the rescues who sent animals are seeing their own dogs in the pictures, and are horrified! Healthy, happy dogs went there. Now they are housed in filthy conditions, with no room to exercise.

    Steve, if you have too many animals, then STOP TAKING MORE. Ask for help!! Ask for volunteers and rescues to take some of the animals!

    And, don’t tell me you don’t have even one dog which is ready to be adopted—you have been working with them for a long time, right?

    AND—could you please stop pontificating long enough to put up some RECENT, dated pictures of the areas in the kennels and the dogs?

    OPEN YOUR DOORS TO THE PUBLIC, Steve. Today. This weekend! Show everyone what a wonderful place you have! At least open your doors to the rescues who have sent you dogs and money.

  11. There is one way for Steve to put an end to what he says is an attack and that is to open the doors, I challenge him to do so.

  12. I have to tentatively say that much of his response sounds very similar to what a facility like MAS would say. It hits all of the same points…”things will be better with a new building”, “disgruntled volunteers”, “if you want to help don’t call us out, just donate.” Granted it’s phrased better, but still.

  13. I was quite disturbed by the photos I saw from your facility. I also firmly believe that no life is better than some lives. There are many hoarders who believe they are helping animals in their possession, when in fact the animals are suffering. If what was posted on Facebook is an inaccurate portrayal of your facility, then take pictures and videos of the animals currently in your care and post them so we can decide for ourselves.

  14. So why didn’t he give you all kinds of pictures to post showing just how great it really is and showing that he really does not keep dogs in airline crates?

  15. Having been involved with a rescue of dogs and dealing with him, he is not the person he lets on to be in these polished posts and emails. Anyone, even a person with something to hide, can write something like this and I have seen some real monsters write convincing things like this. Blaming others and many other excuses for deplorable conditions and fits right up there with the pathology of Animal Hoarding (HARC). If you all believe this email and not what the pictures say loud and clear you are fools and being fooled.

    Look at the pictures – there is an ACCUMULATION of filth and neglect clear as daylight (which these poor dogs seem to also be lacking). Is there ANY excuse in your mind that could say “yes what I’m seeing in these pictures is an acceptable way to keep a living creature” for even a DAY or how about a week or a month? Really? God help us if anyone thinks that keeping animals like this for even a single day is excusable! The sad fact is there is clear evidence that this is not just a one time thing or one instance thing – you cannot get filth like that built up unless it is ongoing. Hollywood pays people high salaries if they can “stage” something to look that bad!!!! Good lord these folks could be nominated for an Oscar if they truly staged this filth! I suppose the injuries and skin infections and starving dogs were makeup?!?! There is just no way. Anyone who has dealt with real animal hoarders, gone there and see this up close and personal knows what this is. I can even smell it – that same horrible putrid decayed smell. The filthy dust that is caked on everything. The low light; the windows boarded up and inadequate containment of animals. many in crates for long periods of time. Look closely at the pictures, every detail and tell me that is staged. Those look to me like they depict the usual state of life of these dogs day in and day out. Even the ceilings hang with cobwebs enveloped with the filth these animals live with. More staging?

    Some of us in rescue were on to him last year and have been trying to get the people in power up there to do something and they have refused to. He has them completely snowed. Or maybe they just don’t want the expense they will incur if they have to admit the problems and deal with it. Others in rescue have seen this and seen this coming. Don’t let the words distract from what you are seeing because there is damn little in those pictures that could possibly be staged. Also there is apparently evidence that he represented himself to be there, at OAS or in Forks at the time some of these pictures were taken. So being out of town is not an excuse. Also, during the time some pictures were said to be taken he was hauling another trailer full of dogs back to Forks away for a few days to drive to southern california pick up the trailer full of dogs, and drive back. That is fact and documented.

    It’s very obvious he is way over his head in caring for these dogs. It also raises the question of what is the board of directors doing? Don’t they have any say about what happenes there at OAS? Or is the board just window dressing? How many dogs do they have the capacity to safely and humanely shelter, feed, provide medical care for and WHY has that seemingly not been adhered to? Any rescue worth their salt only takes what they can provide for. Hoarders take more – far more – and the animals look exactly like these pictures show and pay for it with their suffering and eventual death.

    OAS may have been a beauitful dream but it’t seems to have broken and the ones paying the price are the dogs. Dont deny there is suffering it will only allow it to continue. Don’t enable what the pictures show clearly as a pattern of suffering and deplorable conditions.

    -Mica B. Sacramento, CA

  16. Okay I have kept quiet for as long as my autistic mouth would let me…. The woman responsible for the page is Pati Winn, who runs a non-profit rescues called “Rescuing Rescuers at, if you do a google search it will show you a website with 2 pages, BUT if you click on the cached inks it will show you several other pages, which were erased RIGHT BEFORE THE FACEBOOK PAGE WAS CREATED. Why does this matter? Well she formed her non-profit in Nov, of 2011 right about the same time Steve was having trouble with the volunteer but if you read the pages that she deleted you will HAVE to question everything they say & do…

    She is a Wa state non-profit with a pending 501 her partners are in Beverly Hills Ca. & Tulsa Ok.Which I am not even sure if that is legal. I will find out though

    Here are the 3 most disturbing statements on these pages:

    1) Help stop the neglect and abuse of animals in the care of rescues, shelters and sanctuaries and misappropriation of funds /donations, through investigations and rescue of the animals in such facilities.

    2) Develop a sanctuary facility for animals that are unable to live in society, due to being the victims of dog fighting, abandonment, abuse or situations we deem necessary to keep them, where they can live out their lives in safety.

    3) Shelter / rescue / sanctuary cruelty:
    These organizations have a responsibility to ensure the safety and well-being of animals in their care. If they are not doing right by the animals, by providing food, fresh water, clean kennels, adequate shelter, medical care and exercise, or any form of abuse, they need to be investigated to help the animals currently in their facility and protect any future animals from potential harm. Please notify authorities or if you are more comfortable, US and WE will work to get the situation investigated and the animals safe.

    Why erase the pages days before you go after Olympic Animal Sanctuary?

    Number 2 sounds EXACTLY like…. drumroll… OAS Mission Statement! I mean what better way to make yourself an “Overnight Sensation” AND get rid of the “Competition” by destroying Olympic Animal Sanctuary?

    I call bullshovitz! This is a woman with an agenda against all shelters, rescues & sanctuaries plain & simple. I will be able to post more info tomorrow.

    1. Finally Home Rescue (who are you?)—you obviously support the owner of OAS. I ask you—have you been there? Until you (or someone you trust) goes there physically and records the conditions, you need to stop putting down the people who are trying to help those animals. Put your time to good use! Help!!!

      As stated by some of the rescues and people who sent dogs there—the poor animals are still in the SAME CRATES much later (as you can see by the accumulation of grime and deterioration of the crates).

      There are not enough rescues to handle all the dogs who need help—this is not a competition—this is simply to help these particular dogs.

      I say again, Steve—open your doors!

      1. There has been several other rescues & reporters up there over the past few days to which there should be an upcoming article today or tomorrow with pix. I do have to say something though, I have seen comments about Steve not allowing anyone in his facilities… That is also not true, I have always had an open invitation as have about 20 other rescuers.

        Since I have also been accused falsely & I investigate puppy mills BYB’s & animal abusers I know what also happens when someone “gets it in for someone”

        I was sent 52 pictures of what was supposed to be a puppy mill much like the pix posted on Facebook, I was so upset I didn’t even bother to investigate, I printed the pictures out & went straight to the woman’s door. There was supposed to be upwards of 60 dogs there but “they could only get pictures of 19” BECAUSE there were only 19 there, after sitting down with her we were finally able to figure when the pix were taken. She had 2 rotten bales of hay which the worker laid down in some of the kennels & threw the buckets they keep waste in back in with the dogs to take the pictures… How do we know? Her other worker came in & we asked about the pictures & what she knew about them & she spilled the beans while crying hysterically.

        Everything is not always what it seems to be & I have seen much worse that turned out to be absolutely nothing because pictures don’t always tell the whole truth. I have also seen beautiful pictures that turned out to be some the most horrific places you could imagine

    2. I have been all over the internet looking for news articles or tv segments of the rescues and reporters going in to OAS yesterday.
      Finally Home–aka–animallawnewsandabuse–posted on her fb page and here that she would have all the info and publish it last night or today.
      All I could find was ONE article—done long distance—with old pictures (one picture was recognized by the sending rescue as not even being on the OAS grounds!).

      Finally Home’s FB page is down….
      OAS’s FB page is down…..

      I guess I am confused…..did anyone find anything other than that telephone/net interview? Weren’t people going there?

      1. I guess you are confused…

        1) My page has never been down,
        2) That was not a long distance or net interview
        3) Many people have been there since this garbage started they just didn’t feel the need to prove anything to you or even justify this nonsense.

        No worries people from all around the country are working on this now, Oh & the local news TV Radio & Newspapers, they’re not buying what you all are trying to sell either.

        What sending rescue recognized a picture? Why don’t you all want to give up your names? That very same reporter emailed the group & offered to do your side of the story, but no one ever responded. SHE was so impressed by what she seen & by the other interviews she did that she only gave your hate crew 1/2 a paragraph because she realized she should be focusing on what was truly important: The Animals, & this is a woman that has nothing to gain & everything to lose by fabricating any type of story. Oh I also sent her the screenshots & all of the info I have gathered about some of the people involved. Oh & about that pesky donation money & few other things I am working on. When I am ready to write about this myself then you will see it.

      2. Finally Home—you are telling me that reporter went to OAS, was given a tour, and did not take any of her own pictures?
        “Many people”—please name them.

        We are waiting for Steve to open his doors.

        I certainly hope people from all over the world are working on this!

        I am sure if anyone went there, they would be publishing pictures all over to prove OAS has taken steps to clean up….please… you really think that without ONE new picture….ONE name of someone who went in….anyone is going to believe you?

        Finally Home—done with corresponding with you….have a wonderful life. Dream of those dogs, please.

      3. If you look at the comments section of the article—the reporter says she is PLANNING ON GOING to OAS.
        I guess she did not go yet.
        And, the comment section is disabled…..
        As far as I can tell, no one has gone there in person.

  17. I have no idea about the person you’re trying to attack however, “Finally Home Rescue” and assorted aka’s – get one thing straight: there is nothing to gain from anyone doing rescue and doing it RIGHT by the animals. No profit, no gain no competition. If it’s done for the right reason, it’s about the animal and not some of the big stinky egos. There are PLENTY of homeless, sick, abused, fearful, battered animals to go around! There could be 100 wonderful animal sanctuaries started and they could be full in a year, no doubt about it. What exactly is the competition for? Fundraising? Have you bothered to look at OAS’s 2011 990ez form? ZERO income from fundraising. Not a cent. All allegedly from grants. Interestingly too they pay rent to the owner of the building who happened to be of the board members and is now a family member according to 2010 property records. I guess that’s legal.
    So again, where is the competition? OAS has had no competition and even so they have apparently NOT been able to provide for these dogs at their so called “sanctuary”.

    There is PLENTY of room for others when it comes to the need for animals to be rescued and taken care of. But back to the real crux of this matter, the dogs and their enduring suffering there. What about the dogs? Are you not in the least bit concerned?

  18. I commented here yesterday, and do not see my comments published. I do see more “pro-OAS” comments than those who are doubting him. If you, as you say, are trying to present both sides, what happened to my comments?

    1. “Petey First”, I have been offline for personal reasons for the past 15 hours or so. Some comments built up in the moderation queue during that time. I don’t appreciate your implication.

  19. I am not sure if those of you asking for photos of dogs and conditions at OAS are aware but there have been a large number of photos and videos posted by OAS online. These images are, to my mind, at least of equal value and perhaps of greater value than new images because they have been posted regularly over a long period of time. If there is a specific dog or dogs who someone needs to see current “proof of life” b/c of allegations of some sort of cover up, I haven’t heard about that. In fact, I still haven’t read a single allegation of wrongdoing. It’s very unclear to me what the allegations may be and as such, I am not sure how OAS could publicly address them better.

    1. None of those pictures are date or time stamped, it is only the word of whoever posted them on facebook as to “when” those pictures were taken. They could’ve been taken over a period of time or within a few days. There is also not one single comparative photo ie: a dog came in in November looking like this, & in April looked like this…. since none are date stamped how are we to know?

      Also keep in mind that most rescues take dogs in who aren’t in the best of shape either. I’m so paranoid about all these morons in rescue that if I am asked to take a dog in that in bad shape I get a statement from the person I am getting them from, I take them to the vet before I ever take them home, & I keep a running record on food measurements, stool & urine weight, & take daily pictures because people in rescue can be the nastiest most hateful vile people you will ever have the misfortune of meeting.

  20. The response from Steve Markwell speaks volumes. Excuses, excuses, blaming everyone else and nothing more. He is admitting things are bad if you look with a critical eye at what he is really saying. His response is TYPICAL of hoarders and he sounds scarily similar to Craig Grant, who is charged with animal cruelty and had his hellhole Caboodle Ranch shut down where about 94% of the nearly 700 cats taken in the raid had some form of illness and hundreds more had suffered and died.The pictures show conditions that did not happen while he was just on a vacation, but had to have happened over quite some time. The FILTHY stacked crates lined up are no way for an animal to live. These types of hoarders thrive on promoting an artificial public persona, thrilled to get the attention and be thought of as a “savior.” All the while,behind closed doors, animals are suffering and dying. This man has no business continuing this horror show for dogs.

      1. Are you serious? The video showed the reality and if you think it was staged I’ll sell you a bridge in Brooklyn. There is PLENTY of documentation from many sources far beyond the PETA video that shows Craig Grant for the theif, liar, hoarder and animal abuser he is. You can see it all here:

      2. YesBiscuit: You are misinformed. PETA’s video was very accurate of the conditions at Caboodle Ranch. I had visited the place about a year before it was closed and what I saw was very similar to the PETA video. If you go to the website that Megan posted, you will find others’s accounts of seeing the same horrors.

  21. Just out of curiosity, how many of the people participating in the witch-hunt here actually have put a food in OAS the last 4 weeks or so?
    We do know for sure that the Police was there and they did not shut down OAS. I wonder why?

    1. I find it interesting that when valid concerns and criticisms are presented, it is automatically termed a “witch hunt”.

      This isn’t a witch hunt, so far as I can see. People have questions and concerns. I’d like answers aside from labeling a potential whistle blower “unbalanced” that explains those photographs and the state of those crates, cages, and of course the dogs. Some of those photos would be difficult to stage. I have no vested interest in OAS and support the concept and mission of the sanctuary.

      Police investigations are just that, investigations. I’ve seen worse properties be permitted to exist because of little legal oversight or unwillingness by government officials to pursue charges. The lack of a “shut down” does not mean potential “lack of problems”.

      1. I’ve looked at this from all sides and I have to agree with Marji. The questions and concerns exist and it would be nice if they were addressed – preferably with someone actually *seeing* the place and coming back and saying, “Yes, it’s actually all right. The dogs are properly cared for and Steve is a good guy doing good things.”

        Because right now, I simply do not know where the truth lies.

        Someone took photos that look bad. We don’t know her.

        Someone says it’s a smear campaign. We know him as a good man with some highly specialized skills and a passion for his animals.

        The police have visited, but we have seen too many cases where the police are not informed enough to make an educated decision in such matters and simply see “food, water, shelter” and call it good.

        Are the photos staged by a person who is mentally unbalanced? Are the reassurances those of a person who has slipped from caregiver to hoarder? Are the police giving the sanctuary a pass because they’re friends with the owner or because everything is really ok? What is the true state of the dogs’ health and safety?

        We’re looking for the truth and we need answers. And I believe that the people who have financially supported OAS deserve them.

        Questions. And in the balance

      2. Sorry, that “Questions. And in the balance” was something I forgot to erase as I went.

      3. Police investigations rarely mean anything when it comes to animal cruelty investigations. For instance, Caboodle Ranch and Haven Acres had received positive inspection reports before they were shut down. Yet they were a hellhole for cats. Many times, the authorities rather turn a blind eye because of the work and resources involved in a large scale rescue.

      4. As someone who has financially supported OAS (and continues to do so), I’m very clear that I do not need further information, either from Markwell or from the accuser — who apparently still declines to provide her name. Given what I know about Markwell versus the conduct of the attacker, I’m confident I’m supporting the right person.

        Regarding the suggestions made on this thread . . . when an unnamed accuser posts photos and claims they were taken at a particular place, why should the organization in question invite a member of the public to “go in,” take pictures, question the director, and report back to the Internet?

        Remember, in this instance, the attacker seems not to be content to hold Markwell’s reputation hostage, which would be bad enough . . . she apparently seeks to destroy his life’s work altogether, no matter what he says or does. Why would any organization respond, either directly or by proxy, to someone who holds those goals and behaves the way this woman has behaved? His anonymous attacker would use any information, no matter how supportive to Markwell it actually was, against him. It is a mistake to treat with such a person.

        Many chilling images have come to mind as this attack has unfolded. Blacklisting in the McCarthy era. Anonymous accusations of child sexual abuse. Unsupported but well-timed suggestions that someone is homosexual or alcoholic. (Perhaps significantly, this attack began just when Markwell was about to announce that he would finally be able to move and enlarge the sanctuary.) And, of course, actual witch hunts. Anonymous allegations are hardly new, though it’s easier and faster than ever before to make them through Facebook.

        Regardless of the era or the technology, it doesn’t take much to harm people. The willingness of intelligent readers on this brilliant, marvelous blog to suggest that someone of Markwell’s character should bow to accusations from the dark is evidence of that. It has been both disappointing and concerning to me.

        Given that animal shelter reform efforts do include whistleblowing, with all its complications, I hope and believe that Shirley will continue to be fair, to seek information from both sides, and to urge people not to remain in the shadows. Whistleblowing can be heroic when it is honorably done. I see no honor in what this accuser is trying to do to Markwell.

  22. Peter, look at his tax returns….looks like he certainly has enough money to feed those dogs!
    He certainly could clean the cages and let them out!
    Perhaps the police felt their hands were tied until the legal actions went through!
    Trying to better the lives of those dogs is hardly a witch hunt.

    1. I just seems like that somebody is pushing the cruelty wagon for some reason and the only evidence are a handful of pictures. Only one person actually has seen the Sanctuary and that is the person posting the pictures. I’m pretty sure if the Police would have had any concerns they would have reported it to the proper channels and something would have happened. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for shutting down abusive rescues/sanctuaries but for me there just is not enough evidence right now.
      Not so long ago we discussed here the case of Dogs Deserve Better where one person made a lot of allegations. Animal Control, Police and even a TV crew raided the Compound. In the end it all was about nothing.

      1. Through the ages, there are a million stories of law enforcement and animal control not taking action against cruelty, especially in a situation where there are numerous animals involved that they will have to find a place for.

  23. Peter–not to go off topic….I just read that Maryland passed the bill which designates pit bulls as dangerous? Do you know anything about that?

  24. Just to be clear, I am biased in this matter. I *WANT* to be 100% behind OAS. And I suspect that I’m not alone in that.

    Steve’s mission is a great one. Steve’s skills are unquestionably amazing and rare. I have zero doubt that the man has poured his whole heart and soul into this sanctuary.

    But even good, kind, skilled, intelligent, and passionate people have been known to lose their way. Even reasonable, honest, and generous people can get overwhelmed. Is that what’s happened here? I don’t know.

    I want to be 100% behind OAS. I really do.

    1. To induce doubt in people as rational as you have always been: that is one of the most important goals for an attacker like this, since the regard of good people is one of life’s most precious attainments and, once lost, is hard to regain. It is, to me, tragic that this accuser could actually succeed in doing such a thing without ever even using her name — especially when Markwell, for obvious reasons, is prevented from stating it. And not just tragic, but poisonous.

      We have a choice. We do not have to allow ourselves to be like this woman. We can require her to identify herself, and furnish reasonable evidence that these photographs are real, before we decide whether to sign on to her accusations, or even give her the doubt she wants. I ask her to do both, or withdraw her allegations and shut down her page.

      1. “To induce doubt in people as rational as you have always been: that is one of the most important goals for an attacker like this, since the regard of good people is one of life’s most precious attainments and, once lost, is hard to regain.”

        That’s just it though, Karen F. In this case, Steve can both win back the regard AND fortify himself against the next attacker with ease, here. Current video of the dogs/kennel areas. A walk through of someone from the outside who can report back what they see. *Something*.

        If Steve’s lawyer is preventing that, he should tell us so.

        I have faith in good people. But even good people are only human and my faith is not a blind one.

      2. Again, I say there is one way this could easily be put to rest, open the doors Steve! He will not, because he cannot. I was fooled by Steve at one time, he Is great talker and you really want these dogs to have a place to go, but it is all a lie. I speak from first hand experience, I’m one of the few people who have witnessed it first hand. Please stop sending him money until he opens the doors, some of these poor souls have been suffering there for years, we must do what is right for them.

  25. I’m really confused by something here. I understand that if you were a supporter of OAS, that you would not want to believe these allegations. You rely on the trust that you have put into an organization to care for the animals that have been taken on.
    It really sounds similar to what shelter volunteers say about their own shelter when accusations are made.

    But really, isn’t it about putting the animals first and not relationships of trust? Don’t all animal facilities fall under the same scrutiny? If you ask for openness and transparency from one facility, that applies to them all? If this was a kill facility, what would the demands of proof be then?

  26. Confess I didn’t make it through all the comments but did read the blog post and saw the photos, etc. Steve, what do you need to bring conditions up to a more humane standard for the dogs, especially any who are actually living in airline carriers or crates?

    Would secure outdoor runs work for spring/summer? Do you have enough land to build them on? How much money would it take? Do you need funds for vetting?

    With a definite plan and estimate of the cost, fund-raising or crowd-sourcing could improve conditions at the sanctuary right now, not some time in the future when you buy a bigger place. That can be a pipe dream that diverts imagination, time and energy from solving problems here and now.

    I wish you well–but most of all I wish the dogs well. They don’t need much to be happy–air, light, exercise, decent food and companionship (human or dog)–and vet care when they get sick. Please. No time to waste on blaming or defending. Let the lawyers do their job. Let’s just focus on the dogs now. Thanks.

    1. I don’t mean to be rude but why does Steve “owe” anyone here except for his donors, supporters & the people he works with ANY explanation? He is the one being attacked, he doesn’t bother anyone, he is too busy. I will bring back 100’s of pictures this weekend. I have already received hundreds from others who have been up there already & no I am not going to share them with a bunch of hatemongers, I also don’t owe you anything nor do I care to play into your drama, when they are released it will be on my terms. You guys remind me of the bully that waits for the small kid after school who didn’t realize he had tons of older bigger siblings.

      1. Jeanne sorry about that, that reply was supposed to go to Mikken not you! I was also trying to reply to you, Steve has a bigger place to go through I am trying to get Habitat for Humanity’s surplus store, home depot, & Lowes on board for supplies, as well as a huge pet food distributor up here to donate & they donate food by the pallets, Near as we can figure is that these pictures were taken when he was moving dogs from the old area to the new one, some of the kennels were down, his attorneys will know better. Anything that can be done to help is appreciated & needed, though so any ideas you have would be welcome

  27. Sorry, animallawnewsandabuse, you’ve got the wrong end of the stick on that one. I am no hatemonger. I am merely an OAS donor who is seeking the truth of the matter – as are many others. Others who, by the way, also WANT to believe that all is well with OAS. In fact, we’re desperate to believe it.

    And to be honest, if you have actual proof that things are all right and good at OAS, it’s my opinion that you’re doing them a disservice to hold that information back. Many of us are ready to donate again the moment we feel reassured of the dogs’ care and well-being.

    But we each must do as we think best. I will not call you names for choosing differently than I.

    1. I was referring to the climate in general of others who are posting demanding ridiculous items as though we are in a hostage situation.

      As I said there have been other rescues, shelters & reporters out there since this thing broke & so far nothing untoward has been reported or seen. I will be there most of this weekend. I am also digging at all of the posts in regards to several big rescues Steve has been a part of. There is something else going on behind the scenes so at this point it wouldn’t be wise or prudent for Steve to release or even discuss some of the things going on.

      1. Nothing has been reported at all. That’s a little different. And exactly who has been allowed there? Names please of the rescues/shelters/reporters/news stations that have been inside the sanctuary in the last two days and have toured/photographed the building(s) where the dogs are kept.

      2. One could counter your demand with “Names please of anyone who’s been there and photographed anything depicting poor conditions.”

        On Fri, Apr 12, 2013 at 11:55 AM, YesBiscuit!

  28. @animallawnewsandabuse–I don’t think I can get this reply to come out in the right place so will just put it here. With a plan it would be possible to go to one of the crowd funding sites for support. I don’t know what the actual circumstances or needs are at the sanctuary–Steve would need to come up with a proposal–doesn’t have to be complicated, simple is fine. It may take a while to move to a bigger place–so the focus would be on what the dogs need now–during the transition–to make their lives better. Whatever it takes. Some looked very thin–have they been tested for heartworm disease if they came from anywhere in the South?

    1. Steve has new property to move to, & he has most of the set up ready to go but he needs volunteers & as always with any building or rebuilding projects I know that all kinds of things are going to come up. I think Steve’s biggest need is for volunteers & supplies at this point. I have also compiled a list of places that give grants out to animal charities so the bookkeeper is going to take a look at that as well. I did see a lot of the intake paperwork & they were tested, all of them as far as I could tell had full vetting. I also think that the pictures are from when he brought them in so they were kennel & travel stressed, but there is also something else, with the diet that he feeds them it means they are going to be lean, & most of the dogs he has are sporting or hybrids which classically are a leaner dog & although this grosses me out most of the sporting dogs in optimal health show atleast 3 ribs or that is supposed to be the ideal. I have a fat Schnauzer Kelpie & English Bulldog, the only way you’ll see ribs on these guys is if you are doing exploratory surgery on them. I think men are more rigid about this “standard” though… mom’s have a tendency to spoil & over feed at least I do.

  29. I do need to correct a critical error I made, I said that the lady who did the newspaper report on Steve had been there, it was my understanding that she had but in reading the comments section & re-reading my emails, I see she hadn’t but I do know that several rescuers have been there

    1. so, then, I guess the animals can simply hang out in dirty crates until that happens….if it does….

      1. Peter – You make it sound like all the dogs are living primarily in crates instead of a small number who have not yet acclimated to the sanctuary environment. Have you seen any evidence of that? All reports I’ve read indicate the vast majority of the dogs at OAS live primarily in wire run type housing, not crates.

    1. Anyone can make a flier to look like everything is horrible or they can make it look like something horrible is good. News media does it all the time… Some people just have too much free time on their hands & too much hated in their hearts. It is so sad that on today of all days all you have to do is spew hated :(

      Happy Mother’s Day to everyone else

      1. today of all days, Brandia? Really?
        spew hatred is all you do….seriously. You have a major problem which you do not see.
        Many others do.
        There is no way the water in those photos and the condition of that dog could be made to look like that.

      2. This is not the forum to air your personal grudges. If you have no information to add to this old post, your comment will be approved. If not, we won’t be hearing from you again.


    For whatever reason, this post continues to attract an unusually large number of first time commenters. I do not have time to carefully read through so many spittle-filled comments to screen them. Since this post is more than 6 months old and one of several on this topic, I am closing this one for comments. It already has 89 comments, giving many people their say.

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