Olympic Animal Sanctuary is No More

(Note:  This post is going to be uncharacteristic in a few ways:  It’s long, perhaps a little scattered and based on the assumption that readers know the back story.)

I want to start by addressing a few issues that I think have been widely misunderstood regarding Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, WA.  For one, many people have expressed concern that some of the dogs at OAS did not have sufficient access to water.  A dog denied access to water will generally die after several days, depending on various conditions, so obviously the dogs at OAS had access to water.  Furthermore, since most owners do not feed a raw diet, they are likely unaware that raw fed dogs drink significantly less water than kibble fed dogs.  Just because an owner is accustomed to seeing his kibble fed dog lap up bowl after bowl of water every day, it doesn’t mean the raw fed dogs at OAS needed that same amount of water.

In addition, feeding large meals of raw food and then fasting the dog the following day is a method practiced by some raw feeders (see “Gorge and Fast”).  Although there was significant concern expressed over the typed report from the Forks police department that indicated the dogs were fed 3 times a week, an examination of the handwritten notes presumably made during the officer’s visit to OAS reveal a more accurate picture:

Portion of the typed report from the Forks PD, November 2012
Portion of the typed report from the Forks PD, November 2012
Portion of the handwritten notes attached to the Forks PD report, November 2012
Portion of the handwritten notes attached to the Forks PD report, November 2012

The handwritten notes appear to indicate OAS dogs were being fed 3 large raw meals a week, presumably followed by a day of fasting, and being supplemented with Merrick canned food, cases of which were photographed and included with the report.  Thin dogs were apparently being fed daily.  This seems to be a sound feeding plan and not indicative of animal abuse.

The main issues at OAS to my mind were the number of dogs relative to the facility’s resources and that some of the dogs were living in crates.  Many people accused Steve Markwell, owner of OAS, of being a hoarder.  A local reporter who visited OAS on short notice in April of this year wrote:

The dogs inside the building, housed mostly in back-to-back kennels in the main center of the room, greeted us with a cacophony of barks. Some snarled, a few cowered, and some perked up and jockeyed for friendly attention. The room was bright and not as smelly as I had expected considering Olympic Animal Sanctuary is home to 128 dogs. Each kennel had fresh water, a bowl of kibble, and straw-lined flooring. Most of the dogs were paired in the kennels, but some were alone. The single-dog kennels were 5-by-5 feet, and the doubles were twice that size. Many of the dogs were chewing on turkey neck treats.

On the periphery there were dogs in crates, some stacked two high. Some of these areas were unlit, squalid, and through my human eyes disturbing. Many of the dogs from these crates were the most vicious barkers, and they made it clear they did not want human attention. Markwell explained that many of the crated dogs have severe problems, such as intense resource guarding, severe fear of and/or aggression toward other dogs, or paralyzing fear of open exposure. His ultimate goal is to work with them until they are able to be moved into kennels.


We asked Markwell how often the dogs get outdoor time in the other yards. He said for the ones who want to go outside he gives them shifts (optimally once a day) as often as he can manage, which is less lately because of his lack of staff help due to money troubles. Other dogs, he explained, cower and run for cover if placed outside. These are the dogs so traumatized they feel frightened and vulnerable in exposed situations—the ones in the crates. “This is something that many people have difficulty understanding. Many damaged dogs come in agoraphobic. They want to hide. People see crated dogs and they think it’s cruel, but it is what these dogs choose,” said Markwell.

Allowing in members of the public on short notice to look around and take photographs is not behavior indicative of a hoarder.  Repeatedly expressing a desire for help and admitting that the sanctuary had too many animals (as seen in the typed police report snippet above as well as the one below) is also not indicative of hoarding.

Portion of Forks PD report, November 2012
Portion of Forks PD report, November 2012

Further evidence that dogs were not being hoarded at OAS is the fact that the number of dogs was reduced.  This is the opposite of hoarding.  This is a sound solution to a desperate situation.  But the numbers weren’t reduced quickly enough to satisfy what grew into an angry mob.  Steve was publicly labeled an animal abuser and the campaign to shut him down was like nothing I’ve ever witnessed in animal welfare.

Having read through the 450 pages of publicly available documents in the OAS case, it strikes me that Steve perhaps fell into the same situation that many rescuers do – stretching resources beyond their breaking point while trying to save lives.  Although it isn’t a topic widely discussed, there are some dogs and cats who are “rescued” by rescue groups and put into long term boarding situations which basically amount to life in a cage.  I call this the Black Hole of Rescue.  We don’t tend to hear about these situations until an official investigation is opened by legal authorities or some similar circumstance.  But it goes on all across the country and is more common than we’d like to think.

The dogs who fall into this Black Hole of Rescue have no meaningful social interaction with people or other dogs and receive little or no exercise.  Rescuers attempt to justify the quality of life of these dogs by telling themselves it’s temporary and it’s better than death.  The fact is, if shelter directors would start doing their jobs and stop killing animals, rescuers would not feel this overwhelming pressure to say yes to “just one more” animal when they have no resources and are unable to provide a reasonable quality of life.

While I make absolutely no claim to speak for Steve Markwell, it seems apparent to me via public documents that he may have justified dogs living in crates by telling himself it was temporary and it was better than death.  Throughout the public documents, he continually references his hopes and plans for expansion of the sanctuary.  He also states he knows he has more dogs than he can care for, that he wants to reduce the number and that he needs additional help.  He reiterates his primary concern that the dogs’ right to live not be compromised by anyone who takes them.  This does not indicate hoarding or animal abuse to me but rather someone who stretched himself too thin and is at a loss to correct the situation as quickly and efficiently as circumstance warrant.

Should Steve have stopped saying yes to “just one more” dog long before he had dogs living in crates?  Of course – as should all rescuers.  The fact that he didn’t stop saying yes is not indicative of a desire to hurt animals but rather places him in the exact same category as many rescuers operating today.  Some of those rescuers who have become overwhelmed with animals and recognize they need help are perhaps less likely to come forward and seek it in light of the lynch mob that pursued Steve Markwell, sending him, his mother and his friends violent threats.

It is a tragedy of epic proportions that we kill shelter animals for convenience in this country.  One of the human costs of this tragedy is the horrifying burden borne by rescuers who feel powerless to turn away from sentient beings in need when doing so will result in their death at the hands of those who should be protecting them.  This is one of the reasons I devote the bulk of this blog to shelter reform – it’s needed for pets and for people.  I care about both.

In addition to shelter reform, rescuers need to develop additional resources for handling dogs with aggression issues.  When rescues make a business of pulling dogs with unknown behavior histories from shelters, they are bound to get some with aggression issues.  Too many groups are unprepared for dealing with these issues and there are precious few sanctuaries for these dogs.  And now, there is one less.

When Steve had been pushed to the point of willingly giving up his life’s passion, he reached out to Best Friends for help, stating they were the only organization qualified to handle the type of dogs in his care.  A multi-million dollar sanctuary which appears to do an excellent job of providing a good quality of life to even the most aggressive dogs, Best Friends failed the OAS dogs.  Their response to Steve’s request for help was a non-starter and included the following condition:

“In our opinion and professional judgment, the best chance for ensuring the welfare of the dogs is for Mr. Markwell to open wide the doors of the facility and allow all qualified organizations to help immediately and unconditionally.”

In summary, BFAS was requiring that Mr. Markwell allow in anyone who calls themselves “qualified”, even if they were there because a pet psychic told them a dog at OAS said he wants to die. There appeared to be no standards for determining which groups were “qualified” to help in this unique situation and no one designated to make that determination.

BFAS was apparently requiring Mr. Markwell to unconditionally accept whatever these “qualified” organizations were willing to offer, even if it included killing the dogs. There did not appear to be any protections in place for the dogs in the BFAS response as far as protecting the dogs’ right to live.  I wrote to Best Friends seeking clarification on these issues but my letter was ignored.  BFAS quickly determined they would not be offering any help to the dogs at OAS.

Like the vast majority of people who have been following this story, I have never been to OAS or met Steve in person.  But I did work closely with him by phone for several days in 2011 when he helped us save a dog who had been abused at the Memphis pound.  Steve’s compassion impressed me and his commitment touched me deeply.  There are few people in life with whom I feel a personal connection and despite our relatively short amount of time spent together – long distance, Steve is one of those people.

When the powers that be in Memphis were turning cartwheels, making every effort to frustrate us in our endeavor to save Mario, Steve talked us through the situation.  MAS had us sign the paperwork to adopt Mario then dropped the bomb that we would have to get the feral dog out of the cage ourselves and none of the trained shelter staff would help.  If we failed, they would kill him.  Steve called and spoke with the MAS vet in order to plead for assistance in sedating Mario so he could be safely removed from the cage by rescuers.  She outright refused but Steve never gave up hope.  He spent all day on the phone, continually offering suggestions and working to prevent MAS from killing Mario.  At one particularly low point when it seemed like all our options were exhausted, Steve said, “Well we’ve done the paperwork and that has to count for something.  I want my dog.”  It was a profound moment for me.  This man, who surely had other things to do than to spend all day trying to throw a cog into the Memphis killing machine for a feral dog he’d never met, was committed to saving this dog’s life.  Eventually, with help from so many wonderful people, Mario was saved.  I will stand by Steve, anytime he is willing to have my support.

As for the dogs who have now been relinquished by Steve, it is my sincere hope that their right to live will be respected by anyone who takes them.  There are relatively few people with sufficient resources and expertise to handle aggressive dogs, which is how so many ended up at OAS, and I hope none of the dogs are killed.  The dogs have been pawns in this witch hunt game when they should have been the primary consideration.  Now the chips will fall and I hope an improved quality of life is provided to every single animal, in line with Steve’s vision for OAS.

I will close with three Olympic Animal Sanctuary videos that show Steve doing what he excels at – helping aggressive dogs.  As is evident in these videos, Steve’s skills are genuine and unique.  It pains me to think that these skills might be lost to the animal welfare community now.  And it pains me even more to know how that was orchestrated by hateful people who sought to tear someone down when he asked for help.  The rescue world is less today than it was yesterday.  I am sometimes ashamed to be human and this is one of those times.  But I am resolved to learn from this situation and to offer assistance whenever possible to good people who have become overwhelmed with too many rescue animals.  If you are in this situation, you will find a friend in me.  Let me know how I can help you.

207 thoughts on “Olympic Animal Sanctuary is No More

  1. This is a prime example of he said, she said. Thank you for clarifying. I feel sorry for this man. Some people just don’t want others to be happy.

  2. Love this – thank you for seeing the truth beyond the crap. I have met Steve he saved a dog that attacked a friend of mine. My friend was attacked so bad she lost use of both her arms and hands for about 6months (so not just a small bites). We were actually considering shooting the dog as AC would not come out and unless dog was loose. Steve drove out 4hrs and had no problems gathering the dog and was off on his way. That same night and many after he slept in the kennel with the dog. It is a very sad day in animal rescue that he has been a victim of this witch hunt. Only the animals will suffer. And it really kinda pisses me off that so many are so quick to donate and help Guardian (who took the dogs) – where were all these people to help Steve? Thank you for writing this.

  3. I don’t think the way BF handled the situation was ideal. But it also seemed (and admittedly I have no idea exactly what happened, just what I see in the papers) that Markwell’s strategy was to announce that he wanted them to go there in the press first, then talk to them later. I am not surprised that this strategy proved unsuccessful, but desperate people do desperate things.

  4. The thing I think about this in the end is that his heart was in the right place, but he ended up where some rescuers do – in a hoarding situation. When he really needed some help, he found judgment instead. I judged him too. Looking at the pictures posted on Facebook and not knowing the full story, I jumped to a conclusion without the facts. God bless him for trying to do the right thing, Animal rescue is not for the weak-willed. I hope this unfortunate circumstance becomes a lesson for all of us that we must figure out how to become a no kill nation. And we as human beings need to find compassion for everyone. I wish him well and I pray those dogs will find some peace.

  5. Thank you for this. I am the person who initially contacted Steve Markwell when I read about Mari (Mario) here. I started the wheel rolling. I would love to know if Mario is still living; and, if so, where he will end up so donations can continue to the proper entity. Thank you, Laura

    1. The last time I heard from Steve was about 3 months ago and Mario was alive at that time. He was also shown (but not named) in a video that ran with a local news piece around that time (along with another dog called Snaps). I know many readers are watching for any sign of Mario in the photos being posted of the dogs who are now with Guardians of Rescue. I hope we will hear something about him soon.

      1. I contacted Guardians of Rescue asking about Mario, the replied but wanted information on him that I didn’t have,, his shelter ID# what rescue he came from… All I had was the video you mentioned. There is also a thread about the place the dogs were moved to, saying they are in a worse place..

      2. If anybody hears news regarding Mario please upsate us. Lastvi heard he was keeping Mario as a personal pet.

      3. oh Thank you I didn’t see it.. Wow.. where/how did all these emails get leaked out? Sounds like the town and the officials wanted him gone..

      4. Every e-mail, letter, note, etc. written by anyone paid by taxpayers is subject to FOIA requests. They have no expectation of privacy in their e-mails – that is, they know everything they write can be made public at any time.

  6. I have been to OAS and spoke to former volunteers, neighbors and a fellow who worked with Markwell. Two separate volunteers told me that they were asked to feed the dogs as part of their duties. Each told a story of being directed to a broken refrigerator that contained raw meat. Upon opening the refrigerator they found raw meat that was warm and covered with maggots. This was in the summer and the building per their report was hot and stunk of urine and feces. They both went to Markwell and his response per their report to me was that they were supposed to feed the maggot covered meat to the dogs, ‘open the door and just throw it in’ was what they were directed to do. It appears to me that you were conned by Markwell, never having seen his facility in person on talked to people who actually went in the building. Don’t feel bad, many people were conned and one lady even donated $50,000. I do think that before you write such a complementary piece on Markwell you might want to do more research or visit the site in person.

  7. Well done. Thanks for posting the videos, too. Now we’ll wait for the lynch mob to be posting here, as your article is being posted far and wide. I haven’t been around rescue for long, but to watch this story unfold over the last few months has be astonishing…just when I though people couldn’t get any more diabolical or conniving, another jaw-dropping stunt would occur.

  8. Thank you for being the voice of reason amidst the insanity. I am sad for Steve losing his companions and for the dogs who lost the only person who cared about them. It is heartbreaking to watch someone’s dream being destroyed by a group of uninformed followers of those with ulterior motives. I wish the best for Steve and the dogs, and the worst for those who participated in this witch hunt. There is a saying, “Karma is a bitch.” I hope that is true.

  9. Speaking of the Black Hole of Rescue…

    While parts of this don’t fit into the hoarding category (hoarders in general don’t see that anything is wrong, so don’t for ask), continuing to take in dogs with stretched thin resources is part of hoarding, and certainly this will be CALLED hoarding by others.

    I have so much sympathy, because of course that drive, that fear, comes from very real concerns. That a dog you don’t take in will be killed, or a dog you let go will be. There will be groups that will use this as an example why no-kill doesn’t work. I say it is an example of why no-kill is so desperately needed. So that good men and women who understand that animals have a right to life aren’t left holding the bag for an entire culture of failed ‘rescues’ and ‘shelters’.

    I’ve had people who work at struggling shelters tell me no-kill doesn’t work because they’re doing everything right, but still struggle to get animals out the door. But when so many OTHER rescues are doing everything wrong, it increases the load on everyone else. Imagine if other places had existed for those dogs to go where their lives would not be in jeopardy. I truly doubt Steve would have made the choices he did because he wouldn’t have needed to…there would have been options for those dogs.

      1. I did a little research. The property is privately owned by the rescue operator. She is being foreclosed on by a relative of a board member (that part is hearsay) and 2/3 of the way in a campaign to raise the $15 grand needed to avoid it (that part is from the RUFFF FB page. I can’t find where RUFFF has 501c3 status with the IRS, but they claim to be non-profit. The county has threatened to shut them down due to the condition of the kennel floors – the rescue operator prefers dirt, they want her to put concrete pads down. Many of the kennels are outside with no shelter except a doghouse on a pallet. RUFFF claims to have saved 10,000 animals in 10 years.

      2. Or maybe you were referring to Guardians of Rescue. Guardians of Rescue acknowledged in a FB that RUFFF has its issues but that in the process of saving the OAS dogs maybe they can save RUFFF also.

  10. I can relate to this. Everyone wants you to rescue but they don’t want to help you. I have much more to say but will keep it simple stupid.

  11. Thank you for a fair, balanced and objective look at the OAS situation. Coming into the middle of the situation as the witch hunt was in full bore, it was difficult to get an accurate picture of what was really going on, and even more difficult to try and be a voice of reason. As an objective observer whose only interest was the welfare of the dogs, and as a trained investigator, I quickly developed a picture of the real Steve Markwell as a man with good intentions and a love of the dogs who simply got in over his head and had no idea which way to turn. I am grateful for all who kept their heads in this situation and for all who actually helped make the transfer of the dogs out of OAS a reality.

  12. Iam a staunch Steve Markwell OAS supporter and will always remain so.
    thankyou for putting this out.
    we who know the truth because we did our homework on both the “peacefull protestors”
    as well as steve.
    hope like hell he comes back stronger than ever we stand behind him all the way
    we arent going any where.
    we would love nothing better than to see a brand new building runs excetra
    set on about20 acres of land.
    you see people say there for no kill and then to see those same ones
    go after some one who is making the dream happen makes you wonder don’t it?
    instead of hellping they just killed in effect125 dogs and a wonderful humanbeing
    they ought to hang there heads in total shame and embarrassment
    and leave “rescue’to the real rescues

  13. I respect the work on that you do with regard to animals and long admired your blog but I disagree with your post about the Olympic Animal Sanctuary. I just want to focus on a couple of things off the bat and hopefully will have time to write more later. With regard to Best Friend – the statement to which you refer was put out by BF on Thursday, December 19th, about 5 days after Markwell announced he would give the dogs to BF. The problem is, BF was completely blindsided by the announcement because he had previously had no contact with them about taking the dogs. After making the announcement, neither Markwell nor his attorney would provide BF any specifics about how the dogs would be turned over to BF and didn’t answer BF;’s emails asking how the transfer would work. BF put out that statement on Thursday after they concluded Markwell wasn’t serious about making the transfer. Calling that their initial response in your post is incorrect, and saying BF failed the OAS dogs is unfair.

    You also mention that Markwell recognized he had too many dogs, which he did in an interview in 2010. However, you also said he reduced the number of dogs he had. Do you have more specifics about when that occurred? In an interview in late 2010 he said he had about 60 dogs and shouldn’t take in any more. Then over the course of the next several months about 40 more. And when he took the dogs from OAS recently he had 124. When did the reduction in dogs occur?

    1. BFAS has failed to respond to my letters on many occasions. My experience with them is that they either do not read or do not answer their e-mail. IDK if Steve contacted them by e-mail, only to have his letter ignored. Neither do you.

      The handwritten police report from November 2012 clearly identifies 149 individual dogs by name and description. It’s possible there were more dogs based on the note that the officer did not have time to inspect the small dogs at the initial visit (though the descriptions do include some breeds that are small). When OAS was emptied in December 2013, 124 were dogs were taken to the new location where they were transferred.

      1. I emailed and got replies on several emails from Best Friends. I even got a personal phone call from Judah Battista because he preferred to talk rather than type. My experiences with them have always been amazing, informative and helpful!

      2. Robert has a lot of nerve questioning your fact checking skills. He has repeatedly posted unverified information to the point that the anti-OAS Facebook page admonished him for exploitation. He is “in” with the group that relied on the pet psychic for ‘truth’ and he tried to convince his readers that Markwell was amplifying the dogs barking to conceal his great escape by posting a photo of what he said was microphone but in reality was an eye bolt.

      3. I would encourage anyone who has a sincere interest in researching this story to read all 450 pages of the publicly available documents. It surprises me that anyone would mount a campaign against Steve Markwell without at least reading the publicly available material.

      4. BFAS did communicate with his attorney and Markwell. Then communication stopped. Thank you for correcting me on the number of dogs. There were several other groups who asked for their dogs to be returned and were ignored. Regardless, I think it is impossible for one or two people to take care of that many dogs even if they have the best of intentions. He is on record as saying he didn’t want to have more than 60 dogs and then more than doubled it. I don’t understand how that can be considered reasonable or rational.

      5. I can’t throw BFAS under the bus in the “response category”. I had some bad stuff going on in Sonoma County and wrote them and within 9 hours Sherry Woodard, the behaviorist was phoning me to guide me through what to do with our “faux” behaviorist we have up here. My email went to a generic email address at Best Friends. They saw the situation was desperate and dangerous. Best Friends has absolutely nothing to do with Northern California that I am aware of, but the response amazed me. She was very helpful and took a lot of time to guide me and educate me on what to do.

      6. I guess Best Friends is so big, they can pick and choose. And they choose not to help OAS, so here we are today. 124 dogs in the desert in what has been described as “controlled chaos.” Not too late for Best Friends to step up.

    2. Hey dogspot. How did that story about the eye bolt cleverly disguised as a microphone and the cinder block amplifier work out for you? The one where you sent in someone to break and enter and take photos?

  14. Well I have met Steve Markwell and I have seen how dogs look after spending a year and a half in his ‘sanctuary’. They looked like they had been through hell. Markwell isn’t the victim here. THE DOGS ARE.

      1. my bet is dawn woody the one responsible for the death of the warwick dogs
        you know the ones that mauled the woman ?

    1. Need to clarify that I am not the Laura posting later in this thread. I’ll change my name for purposes of posting at YesBiscuit.

  15. Thank you for this clearly written non-witch hunt article. I represent a breed-specific rescue that sent 3 highly aggressive ‘unadoptable’ dogs to OAS in 2010. They are all alive and well, and Steve looked after them as promised for almost 4 years. He did not at any time ask for or attempt to scam money from our rescue, as so many of the mob claim was his motivation. No, his motivation was the well being and survival of the dogs. I too believe he got over-extended and was doing the best he could with limited resources. There are lots of things he could have done differently, but it is easy to say so standing on the outside and not being surrounded day & night by a mob screaming for one’s head.

  16. Steve Markwell has a college degree as well as a Masters in non-profit management. What he DOESN’T have are any credentials as a vet tech, animal behavior, etc. He has no previous job history as a shelter worker or in management. There’s no evidence that he has ever served on a Board of Directors for an animal rescue 501(c)3. In other words, Markwell has created, out of whole cloth, a PR image of someone who knows what the heck he’s talking about. The pictures of OAS tell a different story. Former employees, former volunteers, the police report that went nowhere, the task force that tried to work with him, and rescues from around the country tell a different story. Why is it so easy for some people to believe that Markwell’s heart “was in the right place”, when his actions, secrecy and obvious neglect tell a different story? Men who beat their wives say they love them; do we believe them? People who abuse and kill their own children claim they loved them; do we believe them? The fact is, it doesn’t matter WHAT has been going on in Markwell’s heart or head. The only thing that matters is the results of what, apparently, are his best efforts…which make him either incompetent, a hoarder-in-denial, or a deliberate abuser. And now that the dogs are the property of Guardians of Rescue, the only thing that now matters is that Steve Markwell never, ever, ever is allowed to take advantage of the generous nature of people who donate to animal rescue, nor should he be allowed to have any dogs, other than personal companion pets.

      1. So what!! To be a dog advocate and caregiver, the most important qualification you have to have is compassionate which he has in abundance. Shame on you for your remarks!! Are you willing to help in any way??

      2. Marjorie Ackerman commented on Olympic Animal Sanctuary is No More.

        in response to Nicki Nelson:

        please present your credentials Patty Hayes. And when Markwell asked for help, please tell us what you did.

        So what!! To be a dog advocate and caregiver, the most important qualification you have to have is compassionate which he has in abundance. Shame on you for your remarks!! Are you willing to help in any way??

        Please re-read it Marjorie. I have a “dry sense of humor” which escapes many. Patty spouted off asking for Markwell’s credentials and I asked her for hers.

      3. And believe me Marjorie…compassion is not all you need. I found out the hard way. There are gifted people who can really relate to these troubled dogs, and there are others who capitalize on them.

  17. I know Steve has a lot of people against him an those pictures of the dogs in cages were sad sad n not good at all But I can’t help by thinking this could be me because I have such a big heart for dogs an giv my life time an energy to mine,I would get myself into this situation because of love not neglect,I can see how this happened an yes the dogs did need out of the housing Steve had them in an yes they should of never had to be in those conditions for as long as they were BUT AGAIN !!!!! I honestly feel he truly loves dogs an did his best but there were too many dogs an only one Steve ….Mt prayers are out an wishing Gods Blessings for the dogs an all who are involved….praying peace will come to all…………..

  18. So one sided in what you allow on your comment. More cover up just like Markwell and his supporters. What are they trying to do, scam people out of more money.

    1. This comment is time stamped one minute after your first comment. Your first comment was automatically held for moderation, as is clearly explained in the comment policy. You are very good at jumping to conclusions I see.

  19. If you support these actions of a psychopath hoarder and you are active in animal rescue, I will do my best to expose you because no one should be allowed to own an animal that thinks anything he has done for years is normal. He is a very sick man that is also a scammer.

      1. You should start the facebook page yourself so the spelling would be correct? :)

    1. Reta please go back to sending your hate mail pm’s we miss laughing at them
      you keep repuking the same garbage you need new martrieal
      oh wait there isnt any
      there were no charges ever laid against steve
      and if you think you can throw the he threatened the cops one out there rethink it as its against the law to coerce law enforcement.
      and its slander and liable at this point

  20. I’m sure Steve Markwell has his gifts and had good intentions.. but you can’t tell me that what he had going on for the past 2 years has been acceptable. He may be good with the animals, but he should not be in charge of handling an organization and the overall running of things. One person can’t do it all, no matter how much he may want to. Even I would love to take in more than the 2 animals I have in my home, but the responsible side of me knows that I can’t afford it, and it wouldn’t be good for any of the animals if i tried to take on more. It’s called reality. He deceived people with a few good stories. I don’t believe this is reason to have protected him.

  21. The author supplied no explanation for the two dogs that died without access to water. Also the idea that dogs eating raw meat need less water is flakey–there’s no expert substantiation for that. And the author failed to mention that, during the year from the time volunteers quit due in part to the over crowding and the time of the police photos, Markwell continued to acquire dogs. I don’t want to get into a debate about whether or not he was a hoarder. The fact is he failed miserably to manage his facility, He ran a closed facility when legitimate operations are open to escorted visits, he exceeded his funding and volunteer base to such an extent that over a period of years dogs were kept crated and the facility was filthy, and he raised funds for specific projects but did not spend the funds on those projects. The fifty thousand he is being sued over is just one of four examples of this. Many people tried to help him manage the facility better but he did not accept the help. The committee, for example, tried to help him but broke up in part because he did not cooperate. I don’t think there is much point in debating whether or not he loved the dogs, either. The fact is he did not care for them properly, did not manage the facility properly, and the dogs will be better of in the care of people who know how to run an operation on a sound basis. BTw, instead of quoting an old article, the author really should have contacted the author of the article to see if it reflected her current thinking. I hope Mr.Markwell learns from this experience. The best learning he can do is to take responsibility for his own mistakes.

    1. Hello…this is a place that rescues dangerous dogs..you want it open to the public. You go first! Oh wait I guess you did not..
      “He ran a closed facility when legitimate operations are open to escorted visits, “

    2. Nothing “flakey” about dogs being raw fed needing less water than kibble fed dogs. Both canned food and raw have much higher water content than kibble. Anyone who has fed fogs both kibble and either raw or canned has seen the difference in water intake. Even without that, think about the difference between eating some crackers, and eating some fresh fruit.

  22. https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=514491101991237&set=pb.396180077155674.-2207520000.1388360362.&type=3&theater



    The first two pictures are of dogs dead for no apparent reason but lack of water. The third is a dog whose tail was bitten completely off by another dog. Several dogs were killed by other dogs at OAS. You’d think a man with expertise dealing with aggressive dogs would know better than to turn dog aggressive dogs out together to fight. The rescue where I volunteer is always very careful about introducing dogs to each other and, while none of us claim to be experts, we have never had a dog killed or severely injured by another dog. All of our dogs get at least an hour a day in the playfields. All of our dogs are housed in ten by fifteen kennels, covered and heated in the winter. We have never had a dog die for no apparent reason. We have almost as many volunteers as dogs and are open to the public. We are no kill, We have two sanctuary dogs and have rehabbed feral dogs. We have dogs that cannot be with other dogs. We are open to the public.

    Steve Markwell acknowledged that the complaints made by his volunteers two years ago were valid. Yet two years later when the dogs were finally rescued, in spite of the efforts of the committee to help him, in spite of the substantial amount of money given to help him, conditions were just as bad.

    I don’t know him, but I have been to Forks and have seen the facility–I live on the Peninsula. I don’t think that it is wise to portray this as a case of a man ruined by unfair critics. He brought his troubles on himself, and sadly, dogs died because he was not a competent rescuer.

    1. This is not an open forum to rehash everything that has already been posted ad nauseum in the crusade to get OAS shut down. It’s shut down now. You won. Yay you. Further rehash posts from anyone will be deleted without warning.

  23. I feel so sorry for Steve. This man trying to do what he could to help these poor dogs to keep them from being euthanized is very honorable in my book . It’s disgusting that when he was asking for help instead of helping him these “animal lovers” started criticizing him instead!! I so agree that there needs to be major reform in this country for the so called “shelter” AKA concentration camp where we “GAS” them to death or mercilessly carry out a gruesome procedure called “heart stick” Another issue I have is “animal surrender” whereas the day an owner brings an animal to a “shelter” the owner gives up all rights and allows the “shelter” to euthanize on that VERY day. A three day hold allowing possible adoption should be MANDATORY. All kennels should be occupied before any euthanasia procedures are carried out and the dogs need a sedative beforehand. The adoption charges in all cases should be reasonable allowing individuals besides rescues to easily adopt instead of financially rewarding the shelters. So again, Steve was trying to do “the right thing”. Sad that in the best interest of these innocent animals, vanity has to step in the way.

    1. He didn’t ask for help, he asked for money. And when several no-kill shelters offered to take some dogs off of his hands in 2012 he refused.

      1. Yes money is help. And he asked other rescues to take some of his dogs with a no kill promise and was refused. And he asked Best Friends for help and was refused.

      2. I’m talking about the fact he HAD money, didn’t use it properly and did not ask for help to walk the dogs etc. All the dogs have muscle atrophy from little to no movement – had he actually maintained a good volunteer base like pretty much ALL rescues in the UK do he would not have had half the problems he did. He got a donation for $50,000 and the dogs still had ribs and spine showing? Hmm.

      3. The vet report from the Arizona Humane Society…. it’s available on the internet, I’m not finding it for you! But here’s a direct quote: “many of the dogs are underweight and suffering from muscle atrophy consistent with being malnourished and from a lack of movement”Also, you can see it in the eyes – almost all the dogs have sunken in eyes which they get from muscle atrophy and/or prolonged dehydration. It may not be every dog, but even a single dog with this is bad enough in my opinion, and I don’t need to be a vet to decide that.

      4. AZ Humane Society who killed a loved kitten named Scruffy then lied about it for weeks then hired a PR firm to do damage control once the truth came out? Oh yes, I’ll def be looking to them for the truth. They’re in it for the animals.

      5. Fenifur, Take your fake name and your “sunken eyes” crusade someplace else. This is not your forum to host your anonymous attacks.

    2. Shirley, it sounds like you are not interested in reviewing, or giving credibility to, the AHS’s vet reports on the OAS dogs. The Scruffy episode was shameful, there is no doubt about that. Personally, I’m not sure that should be extrapolated to mean that all subsequent veterinary reports they conduct should be written off. Just curious…in your view, what would be a reliable organization to conduct assessments of the dogs?

      1. It’s not my place to name a specific group but there should be many to choose from. Just def not any “humane” group that’s been exposed as frauds and hired a PR firm to deal with the backlash. It’s a pretty low bar, I know, but there has got to be some standard for credibility here.

  24. Thank you, glad to finally see an objective fact checker. Another blogger announced that Markwell only had 60 dogs with him then showed a photo of an eye bolt and tried to pass it off as a microphone. Maybe he got his misinformation from the pet psychic. Such foolishness! What narrow minded people fail to see is that advocating for truth does not necessarily mean we are advocating for Markwell. These people can only see in black and white with no range of thought beyond that. We are tired of the sensationalism, exploitation, lies, and hate mmongering. Like most of us truth seekers and critical thinkers have been, I see you are already being hunt down by the righteous online mob. So again, thank you for your bravery, professionalism, and unbiased, truthful reporting.

      1. I rec’d my first hate mail this morning. I now feel like “I’ve finally arrived!” :)

  25. Whether or not he is a good person is something only those closest to him and know him personally will ever know. I once supported him…he talks a good talk and I agreed with most things he said about dogs…most, not all. I understand why you have good feelings about him…I remember reading that story with the dog in Memphis and it was absolutely horrible (on his blog)…so you being involved in that would absolutely make sense why you have a soft spot for him. But the police photos and report speak for themselves. People can dissect it all they want, but the fact is: he did not provide adequate care for these animals..especially in the mental stimulation department. It is, and always will be, unacceptable to house dogs in travel crates for days at a time. One man (or even 2 or 3) couldn’t provide adequate care for over 100 dogs (and other animals), but he kept taking in more. Not only that, he drove around the country to take in more (when he could have saved the ones in his own area)! The fact that he did may mean, yes, he could not say no out of the goodness of his heart (and here I commend his supporters’ amazing empathy for someone most of them don’t even know), but it also means he should not be someone in charge of any kind of rescue…never mind sanctuary…ever. He made very poor decisions and (something not even mentioned here) lied to his donors (I was one..and yes, he lied about what the money he asked for would be used for). Those are the facts. At the same time, I feel for him. I do not think he is an evil person. I actually don’t know what to think because I’ve never spoken to him in person, so I have no right to “diagnose” why he did what he did. But he did it…and I don’t think any dog should ever live the way those dogs did. He should not be allowed to do it again…and I hope he gets some help to understand when it’s ok to say no…and when you should. And why the decisions he made now have resounding effects on the animal rescue community forever..and they’re not positive ones. I, for one, am now questioning my support of the no-kill philosophy. It all makes me very sad.

  26. One more time: This is not an open forum for rehashing the numerous allegations, posts and photos that have been widely circulated over the past year purportedly in an effort to get OAS shut down. Comments reflective of same are being deleted. All those who claimed this wasn’t a personal crusade against Steve Markwell, now is your chance to demonstrate that by stopping already. OAS is shut down. You got what you said you wanted. Continuing to grind Steve’s reputation under your boot heel reveals the true nature of your intentions. You will find no safe harbor for your continued campaign against Steve here and your comments will not be shown. Take it somewhere else.

  27. I think what a lot of his ‘supporters’ are missing here is that a lot of the people who waned him to give up the dogs did so for the exact reasons you’re mentioning here – only very few ever questioned the fact his intentions were good to begin with, and the fact that this ‘black hole’ is common does not make it any more excusable. The fact is he couldn’t handle it, and instead of getting help (which WAS offered by no kill sanctuaries over a year ago) he asked for help in the form of money etc. to keep the dogs with him, which was not the correct path. So, again, just because others have done it and the intention was good, it doesn’t mean that the dogs should have stayed with him, and this is something ALL rescues have to deal with, do you not think all rescues would want to take in all the animals they came across if they could? The cat rescue down the road from me has 30+ permanent residents roaming about as well as those up for adoption and they still have to turn animals away, They fundraised and BUILT extra ‘kennels’, whereas Markwell’s funds seemed to be ploghed into ‘meetings’ and pipe dreams. You have to face facts sometimes that the road to hell is paved with good intentions. Let’s just hope these dogs find good homes now, as only 3 are registered dangerous this should be able to happen for all of them.

  28. It boggles my mind that OAS got shut down but MAS continues to operate. I would feel more comfortable sending a dog to Steve than MAS any day of they week. And where was the angry lynch mob when MAS was sadistically torturing animals?

  29. There is a responsibility that should firmly rest on the shoulders of those Facebook pages (and in no way limited to animal rescue) with thousands or hundreds of thousands of supporters. This is somewhat new and unique to social media. Facebook users do not have the time and sometimes do not have the inclination to research both sides of a situation, and blindly believe what they are told in words, or shown in pictures. It is an easy, quick and most dangerous way to form a mob mentality and someone they should be held accountable. OAS seems to have had many issues, but Markwell’s heart and initial purpose for having a facility to take care of dogs that would have been destroyed otherwise, was not one of those issues. Markwell’s issues could have been solved by donor dollars, and at least one of the attacking organizations that chose to destroy him, was in a position to help him be a success. They’ve destroyed an organization that had a heart but needed help. I hope the pet psychic told them that they are a disgrace. Good work on your researching and balancing out the information on your post, YesBiscuit.

    1. Those rescues with hundreds of thousands of supporters (and I know who you are talking about) have culled their herd so that no one that has an alternate position can post. All those left are blind followers. Power. Control.

  30. Thank you for this article. From the beginning I’ve felt that Steve Markwell was not the monster he was made out to be. Yes, OAS had problems and needed help. Donations and physical work was needed to help. Instead Markwell got an angry mob protesting, a smear campaign that wouldn’t stop, and threats. Had each one of those people offered sincere help without the animosity, perhaps all this could have been avoided….and OAS could still be a place for dogs that are unadoptable. Now with these dogs going hither and thither, it leaves me wondering how many will be alive a year from now. Many of these dogs were ‘dumped’ at OAS by other rescues that couldn’t or wouldn’t keep them due to aggression or other behavioral issues. Now they want them back? None of these dogs were being supported by their original rescues….if they had been perhaps OAS wouldn’t have gotten into such a bind.

  31. Steve Markwell helped me save a dog marked for euth. He said there was a better alternative than OAS…and referred me to a trainer in LA. That dog is still there, living a nice life. She couldn’t be trusted to be rehomed, but is alive and well-cared for. Here in San Diego we have had our own episodes of Rescuers brought low by the media and people with a vengeful, political motive. Sadly, most recently was a case very much like Markwell but it involved Boxer Rescue’s Mary Via. It doesn’t take much for a situation to explode like Topsy. A friend had been rescuing Boxer dogs for 25 years. Did it all on her own dime and with the help of volunteers. People absolutely loved her and went to her place all the time–referred friends and relatives there for dogs. In the course of a few months, when she refused to adopt a dog to a woman who wanted it, that person set on a course to destroy the life and reputation of a 65 year old widow who devoted her life to saving dogs and who had been on speed dial with the local shelters and county animal control. The complainant said the kennels weren’t clean, dogs looked sick, too many dogs, not enough yard space…blatta blatta. The same AC people who begged her to save Boxer dogs in their facility were there on a 7 a.m. raid with local tv cameras and a big bust in mind and the second in command got his promotion….So you can imagine what a scene that was with an old lady in housecoat and slippers trying to defend stacked crates of dogs, completely unprepared for lights, camera, action. She was tried in court and the court of public opinion and ultimately lost alot–although the final judgement was 1 misdemeanor with a small fine…I am talking about this because it is so similar to the OAS situation. In Mary’s case she was managing the number of dogs just fine until 2 females whelped litters and 2 or 3 volunteers weren’t able to come and help. At that point, she was in over her head probably…but the conditions could have been quickly rectified. Same with Markwell. If the caviling public had done what he asked of them instead of just commenting and the witch behind DBB (or DDB whatever that PETA-like organization is), had not diverted attention from the dogs we wouldn’t be worrying that the OAS dogs will ultimately be euthanized-pts-murdered. They can’t live like other dogs, or even shelter dogs do. They are damaged, probably beyond repair. I just hope there is freedom of information going forward. I want to know what happens to them. Are they really saved? Or will they die, one by one, off camera?

  32. Just because Mr Markwell said so dosent make it a fact. I am glad the dogs are out of there and where they are. People keep saying the dogs that are unadoptable or aggressive dogs but if you look at the pictures there are more than one dog in some of the pens so doubt they are aggressive. They lived in filth if the pictures of the inside are true. He should have reached out for help but all I can say is I am glad the dogs are not in his care and they are where they are

      1. Nicki your right it dosent so therefore just because a blogger posted it dosent make it a fact either

      2. Nickie Nelson, Please give it a break. you cause havok on Facebook and now here on this blog. Sorry Shirley but I have had it with all the OAS supporters when it is clearly his fault in one way or another. I will not be following your blog for awhile.

      3. Havok? I wish. Gosh I’m blocked on all of the DDB and OAS threads and have been for some time.
        Well Shirley I’m sorry to have driven away chelbelle64, but not sorry to have a place to speak my mind. For now. Thanks.

  33. Many of the OAS dogs are adoptable. There are some that are going to be problematic, no doubt, but the Eskies, the shitzu, the pug mix, the hounds, the mini Aussie, the Westie, little Lupe, the little dog from MAS if he’s still alive, Pixie…many of them just need socialization which they didn’t get shut up in crates, or were are guilty of nothing more than normal dog behaviors or behaviors that can be managed like food guarding or aggression toward cats. The rescue I volunteer for is taking three.

  34. My belief is that the dogs are on their way to much better situations now, and that is all that’s important to me. Looking at the dialogue that has been happening on the various Facebook pages and interviews – way too many accusations, insults, jumping to conclusions, etc…many many people on both sides of the fence look very poor. This situation has made the animal rescue world look very poor in many ways. Unfortunately this is just a much more public version of what I’ve seen too many times on smaller, less visible scales.

  35. YesBiscuit will you be going to the site of the dogs in Arizona to have a look at the dogs in person and talk to the vets and behaviorists that are assessing the dogs? Personally I found this story pretty unbelievable when I first heard about it. I volunteered at a shelter that sent a dog to Steve and they were concerned about the conditions at the shelter and that was how I first heard about OAS. I felt compelled to to see for myself first hand what the place looked like and if I was lucky I could talk to people who had been inside, maybe even go in myself offering help. Two trips up to Forks and having met the locals including employees and neighbors was very insightful. I am now planning to turn my efforts towards legislation that would prevent anything like this happening again. You seem to have a large and loyal following and are very supportive of Steve and his mission. I think that the assessments of the dogs by professionals will be very telling and would encourage you to make that trip to AZ. JMHO but drawing conclusions based on the information you appear to have access to seems to lack credibility

    1. What needs to “not happen again” is a rescue mob trying to (a) undo the mistakes they made (b) point out mistakes of other rescues while ignoring pleas for help, and (c) dance on the grave of the rescue they helped bury. Oh, and (d) MAKE MONEY OFF IT.

    2. I won’t be going for two main reasons. #1 – No one has invited me and without an invitation from the people who own the property and from those with custody of the dogs, I assume I would be trespassing. I am not the Rescue Police and have no skills to offer the operation as it stands so I assume I would be in the way. #2 – I don’t have money to fund trips. And I’m not one of those inclined to mooch off donors to fund me a trip somewhere I have no business being just so I can be an annoyance.

  36. Wow. Just wow. After reading a lot of blog posts, Facebook posts and reposts on Facebook by my favorite charity, Concern For Animals, and a few news articles, I only have observations based on that information. What a witch hunt! Were mistakes made? Obviously. Was there a better was to resolve it? Probably. Is this a perfect world? Bahahaha! NO! I’ve seen the tiny picture of where the dogs are now and what looks to be a St Bernard type dog, and possible a few others in the distance. It’s sunny, they’re outside and beyond that, I can’t tell. Yay for the dogs! Hopefully two “birds” can be saved by this endeavor. Both the former residents of OAS and RUFFF. I read a bunch of their page too and saw they fought a 3 year battle over SAND for the kennel floors, didn’t see anything about concrete pads, but didn’t read for more than 20-30 minutes. (It’s high desert at almost 3,000 feet, people. It IS basically sand! Whatever, it’s settled.) Leave Steve alone to fight whatever court battles are left. Spend some of your negative trolling time raising some money and donate itspecifically for OAS dogs and MOVE ON. The train wreck is over. And if you have that much spare time, volunteer at ANY sshelter and walk a dog, play with a kitty or wash something. I will be. And thanks to YesBiscuit for putting a halt to the bashing. Its no wonder my BFF fears PETA people in her line of work! She owns a boarding kennel.

    1. Well said and I support your statements 100%. PETA?? They do not care about shelter dogs!! Their focus is international and they do much good for animals as a whole but nothing for the shelter reforms. HSUS does what they can as well as SPCA. We a s animal advocates for shelters must “own up” to the responsibility and support each other not tear each other apart. Who suffers for this? the innocent animals that we are trying to protect! I volunteer at shelters wherever I am as a travel nurse, I pay the high adoption fees with my own money, get the dogs in good shape and then rehome to good homes. I also give donations to my adopted shelter just for their basic needs. I feel I doing something, would love to do more but if each of us had the motivation to get out their and walk the walk and not just talk the talk, we could make an impact! I can’t believe I have read all the bickering on here! I don’t think I will be a contributor on this blog anymore. To all….BLESS THE PRECIOUS ANIMALS…THEY ARE GOD’S ANGELS

  37. Do any of you know what caused this downfall? While Steve was on the road over two years ago saving dogs from various shelters/rescues around the country. He left someone in charge (whom he trusted) to care for the animals. It was during this time that the animals downfall began and the horrible pictures were taken. This “volunteer” was not doing what he expected or thought was happening. When he returned and saw the condition of the dogs and such he fired the “volunteer” and cleaned house of the people. As they either did not do what he expected or allowed the conditions to happen. Upon doing that the person started quietly bad mouthing Steve to his supporters which cut his donates. Then started the police reports and leaking of the pictures and then the internet fire was started.Of course he had very few in any volunteers or employees – hell I wouldn’t trust anyone either. One pissed off person started the downfall and all the while she was “in charge” and not taking care of the animals. Now jump ahead 3 years and he has lost everything – all because of one pissed off person. Again I say witch hunt. So yes while things were NOT ideal for SOME of the dogs (as stated not all dogs were in crates) this was NOT what they were like the whole time they were there.

    1. If your account is accurate, you’ve described a person who might make a very good behavioralist or trainer for an animal rescue group, but who should not be actually running the organization.

  38. For an operation that large of over 120 or more dogs you need several staff members and a very large volunteer base. Just to clean, feed and exercise one dog is at least 30 min from my volunteer experience at a shelter and I volunteered at a shelter that had pit bulls that were a handful. We had to take extra precautions getting them in and out of the building in some cases because the were dog reactive. I think that operating a sanctuary with that many special needs dogs requires even more staff than a regular shelter and they would have to all be carefully vetted out to make sure that they could handle the dogs. In a situation like that volunteers need to be slowly worked up in their responsibilities by experienced staff members to ensure both the safety of people and dogs. To safely run a place like that in the limited amount of space he had (I saw it personally) it would have to be a very well oiled machine with very experienced handlers, who were very invested in the mission. I just don’t see how one ‘pissed off person’ could destroy the place. To feel comfortable hitting the road looking for more dogs he had to have left the place well staffed, well supplied and in the hands of more than one highly skilled professional. Clearly, I don’t think that was the case at OAS

  39. This article is a joke!! Full of lies and inaccuracies. Markwell, along with his supporters, need mental health evaluations.

    1. I am Insane i just go normal from time to time the worst 20 seconds total of my
      lifei shall therefore remain insane
      thank you dr knowitall

  40. It is nice for a change to read a well researched article about OAS and Steve Markwell. Unfortunately the lynch mob did not spend much or no time at all doing any kind of research. Steve did what he had to do to protect the dogs and himself. It just amazes me how many people jumped on that “let’s destroy Steve” train, even driving out to Forks and standing around like clowns for days but not one single soul of them actually offered and help to Steve. You know, something like “hey Steve, do you need help cleaning the kennels?” or “hey Steve, can we create a fundraiser for you to make sure the dogs have plenty of food?”. No, all they did was sitting in their comfortable living room and complaining and whining about something they didn’t even have any clue about. I hope this people are happy that they destroyed a human being and the home of over 100 dogs that most other places would have killed a long time ago. Just one more disgusting example why it actually is easier to trust a dangerous dog than a human being.

  41. And again, because the third time’s a charm:

    All of you sending in comments along the lines of “Yeah but HOARDER and ABUSER and I saw an awful picture on Facebook!!!!!!!!!11111” are not seeing your comments published. Because it’s OVER. As indicated in the post title. You said you wanted OAS shut down and you got your wish. You’ve waged war against Steve Markwell on social media for the past year claiming it was nothing personal and only about the dogs. Now is the time to walk the walk. Stop with the hate already.

    1. Funny how the supporters of Steve get their comments posted but not the others. Hmmmmm Talk about one sided.

  42. Steve Markwell saved Mario from the criminals that run the Memphis shelter. I was in constant contact with him that day and he was amazing. Memphis made Mario’s rescue into a sick little game. They wanted Mario dead. Not only did Memphis refuse to help in anyway but kept coming up with new things to make it more difficult. What should have taken 30 minutes ended up taking 6 grueling hours. Then we were told that if Mario was not gone by 5pm, they would kill him. Memphis was willing to use a chokepole at 5pm that day to walk Mario to the euthanasia room but refused to use it to get Mario into a trap and save his life.

    Steve Markwell never gave up on Mario.

    1. Isn’t it amazing how much effort so many people have spend to take down Steve Markwell but on the other hand the very same people don’t say a word about the senseless mass killing in a animal shelter like Memphis Animal Services?

      1. Or, for that matter, more close to home – King County is a long, long way from no-kill.

    2. Thank You Ona. That day is burned in my memory. The horrible treatment of Mario by the MAS staff; hiding behind walls and peaking out but not helping. The way they all were hell bent on killing Mario rather than let him live. The hero that day was Steve Markwell. Had it not been for him MAS would have killed Mario as fast as they could.

      I would remind all of you who are badmouthing Steve now to think about this: You all pushed him into desperation. He was pushed into making decisions before he could clearly think them out. Shame on all of you. Remember that in pointing fingers at Steve there are a fist full pointed directly back at you.

  43. I wish everyone that got involved (pro or con) with the OAS saga would check out their local shelters. If the local (government or humane society) shelters are doing a good job, they set a good example for the ENTIRE COMMUNITY and they are more likely to enforce animal welfare laws if they are not breaking the animal welfare laws themselves. Better relationships with the community also means the people who need help are more likely to ask for help from shelters and humane societies. Then if the shelters and humane societies are doing a good job, they will be able to actually help these people, rather than “catch and kill.”

    Or, check out your local rescues. But if the rescue needs help, do you really want to send the pets from a rescue to a local shelter which might be like MAS (Memphis Animal Services)? I think the real solution is with our animal sheltering system and animal welfare laws. No animal welfare laws or animal welfare enforcement means we cannot monitor or do anything to change bad situations.

  44. This is where I am not sure about No Kill and does it cross a line? When does living in a crate for the rest of a dog’s natural life mean a good quality of life? That is sanctuary living? You wrote it and I am having a real hard time swallowing that that is a “good life”. If those crated dogs are young. I don’t know the crated dogs ages. Let’s say 10 – 15 years of living inside crates is the best outcome for them. Then this is where I do draw my “No Kill” line.

    I would be arrested in my County for letting a dog live in a crate all it’s live and quite frankly, I would deserve it. If these dogs are that terrified of the world that they can only function inside a small crate forever, where is that “good life”? If No Kill is on board with this, it is too far in my opinion. I want to hear from the No Kill Leaders.

    1. “That is sanctuary living? You wrote it and I am having a real hard time swallowing that that is a “good life””

      No. What I wrote is that one of the main problems at OAS was that some dogs were living in crates. I wrote that he should have stopped accepting dogs long before things reached that point. No way is anyone going to twist my words right here on my own goddamn blog to make it seem as if I said no kill=dogs living in crates.

      1. This is why this is all so confusing. What is sanctuary for dogs? I personally visited one in November, it looked great from the outside. But the woman walks around with a gun, because “you never know when you might need it”. She had dogs that are dog on dog aggressive looking at each other through chain link fences right next to each other. It seemed bizarre to me to have to look at someone you hate 24/7. Fenced runs with a dog house, no toys, nothing. The dogs got human contact when it was time to feed them and clean up dog poop. I don’t know if I understand how these dogs are happy and have a good quality of life. As a No Kill person, do I get to say I that isn’t a good quality of life? How in the world does someone tell? I just don’t understand “sanctuary” living is what I am saying.

        Are dogs kept alive to be kept alive for the humans to feel good? Or are these dogs able to recover from their issues and go into homes?

        I spoke and said what I felt! If you want me to split, I can..we’re good.

      2. “Fenced runs with a dog house, no toys, nothing.”

        Enrichment is part of sanctuary. If the dogs don’t get regular exercise and positive interaction, then I’m going to say no, this is not a good situation.

      3. No Kill Sonoma, you need to view each dog as individual. Some dogs like toys, some don’t. Some dogs like to be alone, other don’t. Some dogs like to be in crates, other’s don’t. Just because a dog is dog aggressive shouldn’t be automatically a death sentence. Yes, in many kill shelters it is the first and only option. In a No Kill shelter you try to work with the dog, same goes for a Sanctuary. Pets Alive, NY is a Sanctuary, one of the best you can find in this country, they do excellent work with dogs. Sanctuary does not mean you lock up a dog and throw away the keys.

      4. “What is sanctuary for dogs?”

        – Respecting the dog’s right to live

        – Considering each dog as an individual

        – Providing the best quality of life possible

        Daily care including social interaction with humans if possible (and working towards that goal if not yet possible with an individual dog) and with other dogs if possible (that’s not going to be an option with some dogs but could be with others). Social interaction is not feeding/cleaning like you mentioned in your example – although it could potentially start there with some dogs. It includes some form of interaction such as walking, playing ball or just hanging out together in a play yard but again, it must be tailored to fit the individual dog’s needs and consideration must be given to where this dog is at in his progress. One dog might come into the sanctuary being able to safely go for walks. Another dog might not be able to handle even eye contact with a human at first and will bite if a person comes into his kennel. This is why considering each dog as an individual is so important. There is no one-size-fits-all form of helping dogs who have been sent to sanctuary for behavioral reasons. It takes skill, patience and resources to work with these dogs.

    2. yea me to i contacted Nathan w with no kill nation to get help for
      steve guess what i never heard back from him
      i sent emails to both this web site and his fbpages
      i guess when it comes right down
      to it the only thing hes interested is exposing peta
      not helping promote and help a true no kill shelter
      disapointing to say the least

  45. It’s always the same. Rescues get in over their heads and the biggies turn their backs- except to come in and kill most of the animals. Or send them off to other rescues who will kill to make room or kill when the noise dies down.
    In 40 years I know of only one proper response and that was to Pets Alive in NY- back when.
    We know what the price of the biggies are to get involved. $15,000 per dog. The amount set by the court on the Vick dogs. You see- if Maxwell had charged $15,000 for every dog he took in- we wouldn’t be having this discussion. But his $2500 per dog fee doesn’t even cover vaccinations, flea, and heartworm treatment for a year for a large dog. And wishing and hoping for after intake support from the community or donors doesn’t pan out for a small fry organization without the big PR/Marketing efforts. And I didn’t hear of any volunteer offers for that either.
    Sandra- your remarks are distasteful. Your ignorancein this situation is distasteful. people like you are why more animals will die. You have blood on your hands for without us rescues more animals will die. Your blindness that the big orgs will come to their rescue is not based on reality. Otherwise this discussion would never have happened.
    For the record I do not know any of the parties involved in this. Just been around long enough to know the destruction of innocent lives from the Sandra’s of the world.

  46. Robert P- your statement about Best Friends is slightly missing some points. BF was not blindsided by Maxwells remarks. It had already been posted that some of the protesters had already contacted BF to take the dogs. This was on their (the protesters) FB page. Also posted was BF response. That Maxwell had to give detailed list of all animals, their medical condition, and behavior assessment. All that costs money from a vet, etc. as they did not have the staff to send to do this. Then BF would determine what animals they would take. Also in BF response was the part that he had to allow any qualified rescues to take what BF did not take (no details as to what BF declared a qualified rescue to be) and that he could never rescue again.

  47. Laura- well if the fact that a dog in a sanctuary killed another dog in the sanctuary- in your world- constitutes a horribly run organization with horrible people who should go to prison-
    Then Baby you had better start protesting at the gates of Best Friends for all the deaths and maulings caused by the Vick dogs to innocent sweet dogs waiting for a home there. And I guess the Batistas and the Castles, etc need to go to the pokey rather than Hollywood Premiers.

  48. “legitimate organizations are open to the public”
    This must be from the progressive mind set that is trying to institute UN Code enforcement for the world. The one that says all foster homes and rescues are open to no-knock inspections by anyone appointed who will be granted immunity in any court of law against and infringement of rights, damages, etc.
    Ms. Laura- I am legitimate. My fosters are legitimate. My sanctuary is on private property. If you try to access my property without an invitation you will be shot.
    Got that?

    1. No it’s just a basic common sense and standard operating procedure. There is noreason to trust a closed organization. One of the best ways to ensure that donations are going to a legitimate outfit is to see if the facility and the books are open. If not, then buyer beware.

    2. UN code enforcement for the world?

      Good Lord, that’s delusional. Do you think there’s a threat to American sovereignty in the UN deciding that our ADA is a model other countries should be encouraged (not required) to follow, too?

  49. Thank you, Shirley, for the insights expressed in this post.

    For me, one of the worst and most significant points in this campaign of destruction — which has been traumatic to witness — was when Best Friends decided to throw Steve under the bus.

    At that moment, when he was receiving so many threats from the attackers, when he was under unimaginable stress, Best Friends could have made an extraordinary difference. They could have sent food or other forms of emergency assistance. They could have sent staff, which I believe they did when the New York state sanctuary Pets Alive, mentioned by others here, got in trouble some years back.

    Most importantly, they could have applied meaningful pressure to get the online mob to halt its aggression. They could have dramatically changed the way that struggling rescues are treated.

    But instead, in mid-December, when Forks officials had already made it clear they had investigated and would not be bringing charges, Best Friends said: “. . . the allegations of abuse must be taken seriously, and Best Friends does not have the legal authority here. The local authorities should determine if charges are appropriate.”

    No, they did not outright call Steve a criminal. But they insinuated that he was one. And they hinted that they would like to see him arrested, even after the town had publicly declined to charge him. My read is that they were sending a signal to the mob — “We do not disagree with you” — in order to make sure they would not be attacked along with him.

    The campaign to destroy Steve was a test of character for everyone concerned. From my perspective, Best Friends failed that test. It’s worth noting that it took an individual blogger — Shirley — to point out the connection between shelter killing and the overwhelm among rescuers. Best Friends should have been the ones to do so, but tragically, we cannot expect that kind of leadership from them.

    I hope nevertheless that we have reached some sort of turning point, and that the attackers who have tried to destroy both Steve and his supporters will come to understand that they cannot do such things without repercussions — that people like me, ordinary pet-owning civilians who donate and follow animal issues, are deeply alienated by the vicious behavior of traditionalists in the animal community. From now on, when an animal group sends me a request for money, I will ask them whether any of their people participated in the assault on Steve. I will not donate to any group containing individuals who did. I will continue to give what I can to No Kill advocacy groups and No Kill rescues. And, as someone honored to have supported a progressive rescuer who played such a key role in establishing the worth of unadoptable dogs, I will continue to donate to OAS for as long as the organization exists.

  50. It would never have had to happen if he would have allowed others to help him out of the situation I know rescue is hard to do I myself have not had the experience of running a rescue. If I was having problems and other rescue who have the experience approached me and offered help I would take it. Im not to proud to ask for help or accept it either.

  51. It is is ironic that the tone and type of attacks being leveled at Steve and OAS are unpleasantly similar to the tone and type of attacks by pro killers against No Kill shelters and by the “angry mob” supporting kill shelters and against shelter reformers daring to speak out against kill shelters. I am willing to bet most of those OAS vociferous haters are also anti No Kill and not only wouldn’t say a peep against their local kill shelter but would just as viciously attack reform advocates. Just a hunch. This cognitive dissonance makes rescue and advocacy even more challenging.

  52. Thank you Shirley for this view of OAS and Steve. When some of my FB friends were pleading with me to sign petitions to “find this man and bring him to justice for all the terror and abuse he inflicted on those dogs” (paraphrased), I did not, because I knew little to nothing of the situation. And I’m glad I did not fall to peer pressure and rush to judge this man. I owe that hesitation-to-judge to what happened to Craig Grant and Caboodle Ranch, a tragedy you covered in this column last year. A few people, with personal grudges, not animal welfare in mind, brought down a cat sanctuary and very nearly destroyed a man. His heart was broken, almost beyond repair. Craig still doesn’t know what happened to his personal cats, or his two Great Pyr. dogs. I could go on, but this is about Steve and OAS. Just thought it striking the similarities between the two.

  53. Thank you, Shirley, for doing the deep work of reading and understanding the public record of OAS and Steve. I came to this very late and chose no opinion because I didn’t have the facts. You have presented them in an unbiased and substantiated way, per your standards, which I greatly appreciate.

    I recently mentioned to a rescue colleague that I was thinking of leaving rescue. I don’t think I will completely, but I am curtailing the number of lives I save and for whom I care in my home. Rescue is rewarding but hard, hard work; one thing wrong, one mis-step, and bang, you are awful, “how could she?”, etc., etc. I support No Kill and Wowza, have I been slammed about that, too; doesn’t change my mind one wit. With fewer rescue hounds (Beagles and Coonhounds being my favorites along with the seniors), I’ll be better able to help with transport legs, train my rescues more as well as my own dogs, and gosh, go away for a weekend without breaking my bank. I work full time as well plus have other interests to pursue. I’ve always been small but need to get back to my original small, which grew to medium to the detriment of myself and the dogs here, though many were saved.

    My prayers and sorrow for Steve and the lack of support and understanding offered to him. I use Facebook mostly for my dogs and family; I severely limit comments and posts which are not positive and rescue friendly. FB can be an ugly place because people don’t take the time for research; just go with what someone else has written. Not all, of course, but too, too many.

  54. Liz Carey- dilusional- hardly. We fought the UN international code here which would have allowed no-knock inspections. Not only of rescues but this is also being used to organic farmers and raw milk farmers. Suggest you get yourself informed.

    Read the quotes from one town hall meeting. $555 per day fines- how do u think a rescue could survive that. This tactic was recently used in Oregon to destroy a rescue.


    1. Although I sense that we come from different places along the political spectrum, I share your concern over warrantless searches. And I read (at a very broad-brush level) about what was possibly the same Oregon case you mention. If I understand right, the head of the Oregon Humane Society, who is a traditionalist, had been upset that police in one community waited, in her opinion, too long to take action against someone who had animals, presumably the rescue you refer to. Her solution was to push a bill through the Oregon legislature whose purpose was, in fact, to make rescues subject to warrantless searches. (I hope someone will correct my account if it’s off.)

      The thing that concerned me most when I read about it was that no one has mounted a challenge on constitutional grounds. And the organizations that have the resources to do so — and that file high-profile legal cases, mostly concerning wild animals — would never consider challenging the law because they themselves are suspicious of rescuers and condone shelter killing.

      It all goes back IMO to Shirley’s point about how shelter killing and the threat of shelter killing impose unsustainable pressures on rescuers, who are then attacked as having too many animals by the very people who allow shelter killing to continue.

    2. Kittypurr, no knock and/or warrentless searches are a Very Bad Idea that has been proposed in some places and by some groups.

      It has absolutely nothing to do with the UN.

      Agenda 21 is an entirely voluntary sustainable development proposal having exactly nothing to do with animal shelters, animal rescue, or animal welfare in any way, shape or form.

      The UN is not coming to get you or your animals.

  55. Well, after sitting down and reading through the whole file you have there, I think this is a combination of things. Yes, I feel that Steve was being harassed a LOT, and that was completely not helpful. And yes, I feel that he was in way over his head, and just couldn’t keep up with all the dogs.

    What’s sad to me is that instead of people stepping up and helping these animals, they continued to push at Steve in a manner that wasn’t conducive to helping the DOGS get into better situations, and made him feel like a failure for trying to help. (Or at least I can imagine that’s how he felt, having been through something similar on a much smaller scale).

    All I can think is that if we were truly a No-Kill Nation, this kind of thing wouldn’t have to happen, and instead all of us who care deeply about the animals could work together to make certain the dogs are in the best possible situation for them to live out long and happy lives.

    1. Thank you for reading the entire file. I realize that most people are not going to read a document containing hundreds of pages simply to inform themselves of the publicly available information regarding the case. But for those who are able to make the time to do it, reading it truly provides a unique and valuable insight.

    2. I too read through all of the information, and unfortunately came out with a rather different view. Suffice it to say I’m glad the dogs are (hopefully) being taken care of.

  56. Alrighty then. I’ve gotta chime in again. If no notice knock and walk in inspections are allowed, who’s financially responsible if the “inspector(s)” show up on a “Murphy’s Law Day”? We’ve all had one of those. A gate latch on a HIGHLY aggressive dog’s kennle fails, or a bolt breaks or an idiot didn’t put the snap on, and “Killer” is OUT! And Ms or Mr “inspector is standing in an open gate “inspecting” Fido, a cute, fluffy, mostly rehabbed American Eskimo who weighs 1/3 the amount of “Killer”? The inspector gets bitten, “Fido” is triggered, the sanctuary handler jumps to stop it and “Killer” snaps “Fido’s” neck and turns on that nasty handler who always foils his aggressive plans and mauls the heck out of him/her and maybe gets a few more rushing to help. Who is responsible? Financially? Don’t say the insurance, because that won’t fly. To be covered you have to meet standards! All employees are agents of the facility (volunteers are agents in this scenario). Ms/Mr inspector are unknown quotients. Not covered. Oh, well they signed a release. That doesn’t fly either. Law suits are filed every day with wavers in place, and the waivee wins!

    Folks, let’s use our heads for something besides hair anchors here. Sh*t happens. No noticeinspections and closed facilities DO NOT equal “something fishy in Denmark” (sorry, Denmark, iI know you get that a lot!). They equal CAUTION and self preservation!

    (And PETA believes no animal should live in a cage. Their core members may leave boarding kennels and doggy day cares alone, but their junior brainless members try to get pics of wrong doing by volunteering frequently. That’s why my friend has a EMPLOYEES ONLY sign on the kennel entrance gates. They aren’t allowed to scale an the runs or bed areas or enter for any reason. An employee retrieves the dogs for yard time and walks and does that work. Thrre are holding kennrls for the dogs on deck to be walked. Temperment tested dogs. Response to person commenting on my previous post.)

    Hope this makes the poting grade! You rock, Yesbiscuit!

      1. Yes. Seriously. It’s no more ridiculous than no notice inspections and the statement that closed facilities equal something to hide. It does have a lot of typos. Sorry…

    1. These types of inspections are done for puppy mills and AC in Wa state – rescues and sanctuaries should not be exempt from them. It is part of the loophole that we will be working to close in our current laws.

      1. Kim, are you saying that no-knock inspections are conducted of animal control shelters in Washington state? Who conducts those inspections, and where do they post the resulting reports?

        In your discussions with legislators, will you be requesting that all animal control shelters, and all nonprofits that accept public funds to carry out sheltering responsibilities, be required to post complete statistics online in a timely manner?

        Also, will you be asking that all publicly funded shelters in the state, municipal or nonprofit, stop killing animals, since the techniques that save them are now so widely known?

        Finally, will you be making your efforts to change state law visible, so that Washington residents who object to shelter killing can work to have No Kill legislative changes incorporated into your initiative?

    2. If you can’t pass “no knock inspections” then it sounds to me like there is something very wrong. It’s so easy to fix things up to make them appear to be what they aren’t for a little while – sort of staging a house that’s for sale. No, Karen F asks good questions and I don’t buy your arguments that it just might be a bad day. To anyone who knows what to look for, it should be clear whether that “bad day” is status quo or truly just a rare happening. Nope, only those with something to hide should worry about being found out. Not buying what you’re selling.

      Bottom line is that there is plenty of help available through the big “rescue” groups and they could have stepped up and done something positive before it got to this point. But it’s much easier to wait and pounce – sort of like vultures after the kill. ASPCA, H$U$ and others could have easily financed improvements to the facilities, but did not. Too busy making sappy commercials to fill their coffers and promote the “image” of what they want people to think they are.

      I don’t know personally what happened, and I refuse to spend my time reading everything everyone has written, but I believe that this man is someone with a heart for dogs and just got in over his head. And rather than helping him, the “rescue” community decided to take him down. Too many egos at stake here, I suspect.

      And, as another poster has said, I just hope the dogs are okay.

  57. I’m so relieved to find this page- I’m a newcomer to the online part of this drama, and until I came here have been really horrified at what I’ve been reading.

    I just hope Steve Markwell has seen it. I’ve wondered what’s happened to him since the “exchange”…the gleeful accounts elsewhere of that exchange, wherein his efforts to keep at least a few of HIS dogs were thwarted by the disabling of his truck are heartbreaking.

    I live on the Olympic Peninsula, and my sources ’til recently had been the local people and the local paper- both of which, though pretty reliable, couldn’t account for what seemed to be happening to Steve Markwell. I couldn’t understand how a man so recently hailed as a hero for “saving the dogs that others want dead” could have fallen so far so fast.

    But it became real clear once I started slogging through page after hysterical page of overheated and mostly unsubstantiated blather. The pure hatred expressed-still being expressed- chills my heart to the core. The most vicious of dog attacks pales in comparison to what those avowed dog lovers did to Steve Markwell.

    Your very thorough article above along with most of the responses to it have restored my faith that there are some in the “rescue community” whose understanding and compassion for animals extends to the PEOPLE involved in the same effort.

    Thanks for that!

    1. Thank you so much for this comment, Francesca. I agree with you. It has been chilling to me to realize that these hate-filled attackers seem perfectly ordinary. They are people we could run into at the grocery store or the library. Yet they are filled with exultation at having destroyed the life’s work of a person who did what none of them were willing to do.

      It’s deeply frightening. This could be done to anyone. It really makes you think about what it means to be human.

    2. Here here, Francesca! Well said.

      Move along folks, train wreck is over. Let the various agencies figure out blame based on the F A C T S!

  58. Here’s a report from Lionel’s Legacy on some of the OAS dogs they have now.

    “All of the dogs are very thin and have extreme muscle wasting due to living in small kennels. Crockett has multiple scabs on his chest, Fergus is a matted mess and has urine burn on his belly, Buddy has pieces of his lip missing, and they all have a look of emptiness in their eyes. There is a lot of spinning and odd behaviors from being crated for so long and we are easing them into meals as their stomachs get accustomed to a consistent food source.”

    1. It seems surprising they are not posting photos that show the conditions they are alleging on the dogs. Or at least vet notes. Or something. This would seem to fall under the “More allegations lacking any supporting documentation” heading, which we’ve had plenty enough of already.

    2. the vet would call you a flat out liar!!
      there are a few dogs that are thin this was a problem back in washington
      there is no muscel waisting due to small kenels you kiddo are full of
      doggy pooh.
      and yes there are some very aggressive dogs that even the vet or the handlers couldnt get any where near 2 went to the big shelter one for seizures and i forget what was up with the other
      i was reading the published report on pdn tonight
      the dogs are in fair condition and considering gor had them for over a weekbefor you got them i think there tummies were adjusted to food by the time you got them
      so try that garbage with the uneducated
      an noi dont buy ll crap just another stunt to increase the hate actor
      they are no better than ddb now in my book

  59. Have you seen the before steve markwell and the after steve markwell pictures of the dogs?
    What this man has done is a disgrace he should be in jail.

    1. All you are doing is referencing some new photos that you provide no link to or any hint of where they can be viewed. Instead of making more allegations without supporting documentation, which has long been the plan of attack against OAS *which is now shut down*, why not direct people to where they can see this new supporting evidence?

  60. There seems to be a distinct lack of documentation on the dogs’ physical health. I know that there were vet reports promised a few days ago, but I haven’t seen them, yet.

  61. Trying to get caught up here. So let me get this straight, the dogs were rescued(driven 3 days) by Guardians of Rescue and taken to RUFFF in Az. RUFFF itself is possibly closing any day(their update says they are 1/3 of the way to have enough money to not be evicted) and some 300 dogs then would have no place to go??

    And this was the best option vs finding a way to help OAS with or without Steve Markwell in place?

    1. Markwell drove the truck. Quite a few of the OAS dogs have already gone to other rescue organizations.

      1. “Quite a few?” You are not informed Joel. I count less than 10. And Brandy your recount of events is so messed up I don’t have a place to start. The info is out there, please research before you post junk.

      2. Thanks for volunteering to give us updates, accu-News Nicki. Maybe you can also keep a running ticker on how many dogs have been killed, which is what Mr. Markwell all but guaranteed?

      3. OMG Joel can you believe he’s still asking for donations?!?! It was posted on the we stand with Olympic animal sanctuary Facebook page. After all he has done to these dogs, and now he’s running from the law, he didn’t show up for hearing and I think there’s a warrant for him. He has NO dogs, and he’s still asking for money! And I know there are suckers out there that are going to donate! This is criminal! HE’S A GREEDY SON OF A BITCH

      4. Shirley, how about the home page of OAS:


        First thing you see, in large font: “Providing a responsible alternative to certain death for abused, neglected, and unwanted animals.”

        The About Us page:


        “The bottom line is this: if Olympic Animal Sanctuary closes, regardless of what our opponents may claim, most of the dogs here will be killed. If the shelters, foster homes, and ‘other sanctuaries’ existed, the dogs would already be there. Certainly we will continue to do everything in our power to prevent that from happening, but we need your help.”

        As I’ve stated, I’m neither pro- nor anti-Markwell. I’m wanting to see the dogs in their best possible situation. If I’m taking Mr. Markwell at his word, then the majority of the dogs are likely going to be killed. I’m not interested in seeing that happen.

      5. Unfortunately, I don’t think the outcome is going to be known for many, if not most, of the dogs. It seems at least some of the groups taking the dogs are choosing not to make it publicly known. That is their option of course. But it will make it challenging to try and track the outcomes on the dogs.

      6. Well we’ll see; it’s only been a week. Hopefully rescues that are taking OAS dogs realize that a plan to share the outcomes of the dogs will be helpful, but I don’t blame them for not wanting to put up with the endless circus that this has become. It looks like one rescue has had to spend too much time getting rid of posts and messages from both pro- and anti-OAS people. But I am encouraged by the fact that several dogs seem to have already left with rescues within a week of Guardians of Rescue taking over responsibility of the dogs.

        We’re to the point that everyone is filling in any speck of ambiguity with pessimism and negativity. Humans are great at that. Dogs are the exact opposite. Which is another reason I like dogs.

  62. Hello all…just feel obliged to add my two cents. I’ve been following OAS and Steve since late 2010 when I asked him if I could go out to Forks for a day or two to get advice on starting my own sanctuary. Steve welcomed a visit, but unfortunately personal problems (mine) got in the way of ever getting out there. However, I have been a supporter of OAS since then and have donated about $2,200 over the last three years.

    So, fast forward to the present when I read about the insanity going on in Washington via facebook. To say I was shocked is an understatement. No need to recite a laundry list of all the verbal fisticuffs because people are going to believe what they believe. The problem is that this kind of situation is fertile ground for mob rule and that is exactly what happened. I don’t know what happened at OAS, what Steve did or didn’t do, or why Steve’s detractors had it in for him, but my gut tells me Steve is a good guy who got in over his head. What I do know though, is virtually all the people who gathered in both camps let innuendo, gossip, and rumor rule over common sense. There are two sides to every story and none of them knew both of them. Consequently, mob rule with significant damage to the animal welfare community as the result.

    The moral here should be that as this situation is drawing to a close the people involved should take a step back, lose the attitudes and arrogance, and try and learn from it so something like this never happens again. Unfortunately, the moral actually is that most people are either more interested in winning versus doing the right thing, or they are not capable of the critical thinking needed to solve these life and death situations. Either way it sickens me, but mostly I hope the dogs are ok.

    1. Thank you for a thoughtful and honest response to this. So many people rely on emotions without the thought. You are bang on and I hope you are able to open that sanctuary, since you seem to have your head on straight. And thanks for being one of the small voices of reason here . . . and I, too, pray that the dogs are okay.

  63. Thanks for the insightful article, I think one of the problems is that the internet amplifies the black and white view. Everyone is a saint or a serial killer, no shades of grey. As no kill grows we need to learn from situations like this, how to avoid them, how to steer things the right direction while there are options.
    Thanks again.

  64. Why are you not seeing you comments here? Possible reasons include:

    1. Your comment contains out of context info – e.g. a quote from an animal advocate regarding hoarding in general but your comment suggests the person was speaking about Steve Markwell personally.

    2. Your comment states as fact your unfounded conclusions about what Steve Markwell did with one or more dogs at OAS – e.g. “He ignored this dog’s needs” when in fact you have no evidence of same.

    3. Your comment contained a personal note to me, because you are concerned that I’m not receiving the mental healthcare I need, and you want to assure me that I am exactly like a hoarder, drunk driver, pedophile and/or Hitler.

    4. I got bored with your passive-aggressive bullshit.

    5. You invoked the Chewbacca Defense to explain your actions.

    morons shooting off there yaps about someone they dont know a thing about.
    they went after IHAR in az
    ddb is now a total joke in rescuewell actualy they have been nothing but a comlpeat
    joke for a long time.
    i was very pleased to see the rescue tell them off judgemental fools

    1. If I may clarify: Yes DDB posted a photo from an anonymous contributor, of a dog in a kennel outside and stated that the Innocent Hearts rescue in Stone County AZ was in neglect. They posted it on their FB page with 177K plus likes. Now, this hard working rescue in an area where attitudes towards dogs aren’t really forward thinking, is not only having to fight the weather but fight a billion facebook monsters who are calling the local authorities to complain and doing the usual mindless posts all over the internet to smear this rescue’s good reputation. I can walk outside right now and take a picture of an empty dog water dish and a pile of horse manure and post it on FB…oops but I don’t have 177K plus people paying attention!
      The rescue is Innocent Hearts Animal Rescue in Mountain View AZ https://www.facebook.com/pages/Innocent-Hearts-Animal-Rescue/242762075797342

  66. It is disgraceful that people are involved in spewing all the crap they are concerning OAS and now Innocent Hearts Animal Rescue. One would think that you would be supportive of the dogs that remain needing a home. Instead you are attacking people who no doubt loved the dogs and took care of them as best they could.

    Yesterday I found these pictures of the OAS dogs and I think they look pretty darn good! I refer you to the following:


  67. Shirley, I have followed your blog for quite awhile and have fought by your side for the sake of the animals. Sadly I can no longer do that. I have never seen such one sided B.S. Apparently its ok to glorify a person that got over his head and refused any help besides cash, resulting in severe abuse. Those that post the proof of such abuse is attacked and told this is not the place for it. That is appalling and completely unfair. Good luck in your future endeavors.

    1. I don’t think there is a single reader here who agrees with everything I write. I don’t think there is any blog I follow where I agree with every single thing the author writes. In this way, blogs are similar to real life.

      IDK if you are a rescuer chelbelle64 or if there is any pressure on you to take animals “or they’ll be killed”. But if so, you may find yourself in a situation one day where things have gotten out of control and are not what you ever intended them to be. You will need help, not judgement, from compassionate people in the animal welfare community. If that day comes, please feel welcome to call on me. I will help you in any way I can.

      1. Besides the letters from Steve that I posted on the blog over the past year regarding the allegations against OAS, we did exchange some e-mails. I felt somewhat at a loss on how to best help and have often questioned whether I could have done something I didn’t do (I don’t know what exactly) that might have helped.

  68. I for one thought Steve was a hoarder being downright awkward by not allowing people inside the sanctuary. I sincerely regret thinking and saying this and being extremely sorry. I honestly think this man should be given a job at a sanctuary training dangerous dogs and rescuing them too for the sanctuaries. Please give this man a chance now. He only did what he thought was best but things got out of hand for him.

  69. Many people have asked about Mario, the dog we helped save from the kill room at the Memphis pound and who eventually went to OAS. I have been trying to find out any information on his whereabouts and promised to post updates if I received any definitive info. I received an e-mail reply yesterday from Guardians of Rescue (the group that now has ownership of the 124 OAS dogs) that stated Mario is not one of the dogs they received. Although many people have speculated that Steve may have kept a small number of dogs as personal pets, I have no information on that. I am still trying to get a definitive answer as to where Mario is and when I do, I will share that information on the blog. In the meantime, I have no reason to believe Mario is in any danger or, as some have speculated, that he is dead. I am sticking to the facts as I learn them and will post another update as soon as I get one.

    1. someone has to much time on there hands
      the email on this isnt a offical gov email its gmail
      iam in the process of tracking the email owner down
      there are no wants or warrents on steve
      the bench warrent was pulled back due to the fact
      the court date was changed.
      wonder when thaynes lil buddy robin is due in court for assaulting the oas worker?
      we know she was arested so much for the peaceful protest
      there still hunting steve becuse he has his own private diogs
      to bad itsa somewhat free countryast time i looked
      there areno crulety charges against hm no abuse charges
      however if the anti oas pages keep up there crap
      they will be charged with cyber terrorism

      1. I read threw a lot of the the posts.. In my opinion this Facebook thread was over the top and out of control. So many people jumping on a fake band-wagon. What I got out of it was,Markwell was a no-show. Thanks for the update that the court date was changed… Please post if you see/hear any updates on the protesters case.. Thanks

      2. Dot – this is not a forum for Old West style WANTED posters containing “we believe he’s guilty of crimes” allegations made by anonymous cowards. I’ve deleted two of your posts this morning b/c of this. Please stop posting this nonsense here.

      3. I think what that FB thread is doing is wrong..and there are only a few people stating it’s wrong..I thought you would be standing up for him.

      4. I’m trying to be fair here to the best of my abilities as a human. I have no control over, nor do I wish to get involved in, any malicious and dangerous postings on FB. It’s work enough trying to keep this space in order, pleasing no one and accomplishing very little.

        On Fri, Jan 17, 2014 at 10:09 AM, YesBiscuit!

      5. to the ones who think there entitled to info on steve
        you have no such rights.
        he is a private citizen of the usa
        there is not one of us who would ever under any circumstances
        give any info to any one.
        just becuse you think hes done something against the law does
        not make it fact no does your thinking give you rights
        time to move on and get a life

  70. I understand your point Dot, but the more places that stuff is crossposted, the more likely it is that someone with a screw loose will see it and do something dangerous.

    There are some seriously disturbed people involved in this situation (and I don’t mean Steve).

  71. Sick people responding here. How much money did you get paid yesbiscuit off the abuse and neglect of dogs.

    1. I got paid the same amount for this post as for all my other posts – which is to say, 100 million dollars. But I’m banning your troll self for free.

  72. I always felt that Steve Markwell wanted the best for these dogs. I followed his story from the beginning. I feel in my heart that he had a dream and it got to the point where he just couldn’t keep up with the amount of dogs he tried to save. I think he is a good person.

  73. im curious. Why isn’t the community helping. They drop off animals and expect this rescue to do it all. Hello they need donations and volunteers. Correct if I’m wrong but I thought the nonprofit and the community worked together. Sounds as if this man had his heart in the right place just needed a little help from community!

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