NO SANCTUARY FOR DOGS
December 24th marks the one year anniversary that the 124 dogs imprisoned in the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” (OAS) in Forks, WA by Steve Markwell were turned over to the Guardians of Rescue in Kingston, AZ.
The “Sanctuary” was supposed to be a place where dogs with severe behavior problems could live out their lives peacefully and happily instead of being euthanized.
Sadly, it was no sanctuary for dogs..
Markwell kept up to approximately 160 dogs locked in crates 24/7 inside an unheated warehouse and forced to live on top of filthy straw soaked with their own urine and feces. They got no exercise. They were fed starvation rations that mainly consisted of maggot-filled meat stored on the dirty warehouse floor for days. They had no reliable access to fresh water.
While the dogs suffered, Markwell continued to collect hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations.
Fortunately, the “Sanctuary” is now gone, and Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson sued Markwell last summer for Washington’s Charitable Solicitations Act and Consumer Protection Act for failing to maintain records of how he spent $300,000 donated to the “Sanctuary.”
Markwell insisted that these dogs were extremely dangerous and unadoptable. He liked to say the dogs at the “Sanctuary” were the ones people “would rather see dead.”
But as you’ll see in my series of posts about these dogs, many of them are not dangerous. Others had behavior problems that had to be addressed but didn’t prevent them from finding homes.
Turk is a purebred Kangal, the national dog of Turkey and a breed used to guard livestock.
He was stuck in the pink warehouse at the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” for about 4 years. He was sent there because he escaped from his yard a couple of times and bit other dogs.
Candi Bright, the woman who runs Gentle Giants Inc., the rescue that took Turk and two other dogs rescued from the “Sanctuary,” said he “never showed any signs of aggression toward myself or anyone he met on the trip to NJ.”
Like most of the other dogs rescued from OAS, Turk had several medical problems. When he arrived at Gentle Giants, he had ear infections, a dry, brittle coat full of whipworms, and muscle atrophy in his rear legs due to inactivity.
He was also 25-30 pounds underweight, and, according to Ms. Bright, “smelled horrible.”
When he arrived in NJ he was evaluated by a trainer, and although he was “very head strong,” he knew several basic commands.
Turk has been adopted and now lives with his forever family who gives him more than enough love and companionship to keep him happy and healthy for the rest of his life.
I was able to get in contact with Turk’s former owners and ask them a few questions about how Turk ended up in the “Sanctuary,” what they were told regarding how he would be cared for, and how they felt when they found out how Turk actually lived at the “Sanctuary.”
One of the most gut wrenching aspects of the OAS fiasco is how guilty and heartbroken the people felt when they learned how the dogs they sent there were treated.
At least Turk’s former family now knows that he’s finally getting the life they thought he would have when they sent him to OAS.
You’ll see my questions and their answers (in italics) interspersed with the pictures of videos of Turk after he was rescued.
How did you hear about the “Sanctuary”: Oddly enough, my wife saw a magazine article about Steve Markwell and the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in a magazine feature while at a Dr’s office. Found it very interesting, a home for “bad dogs”. Sounded like a good cause. She tore the article out around February 2009…… Later in July we were compelled to find a safe place for a large dog deemed “dangerous” in order to “rescue” our very own, Kudret (Steve renamed him “Turk”, I guess because he didn’t know how to say his name Kudret). Kudret (koo ‘dret) is a Turkish name meaning “power and might”. He is a Kangal Dog, the national dog of Turkey. To this day we have his sister, “Nadide”.
Why did you send Turk there? Kudret/Turk is a VERY protective dog. It is the Kangal nature to “protect/guard” their flock in Turkey. Kudret/Turk was VERY protective of my wife and our property. Unfortunately, the fence we had did not contain his boundaries. Kangal’s tend to extend their boundaries and even “adopt” their surrounding neighbors, yards, and roads, and other areas and make them part of their “domain”.
Kudret/Turk had a couple of “strikes” against him with the local animal control. He did NOT like small dogs/animals and broke the fence of our property and bit a couple of the small dogs that would walk down our street. The local animal control was going to destroy Kudret/Turk.
My wife pulled the article and asked me if I would speak to Steve, discuss his services and facilities to determine if they were suitable for Kudret/Turk, and, if we could convince him to shelter Kudret/Turk, she would figure a way out to get him to Washington State to Steve’s establishment.
She did her research and according to the National Animal Control, he was in GOOD graces and Olympic Animal Sanctuary was a SAFE place for “bad dogs”.
So, I began speaking to Steve Markwell in earnest to discuss means to transport Kudret/Turk from SW Virginia to Western Washington, and Olympic Animal Sanctuary. We had several telephone conversations and Markwell was receptive for another “big dog” since he needed one to pen with his (new) Great Dane. It sounded like a good mix.
We were assured the facility had open yards, fenced and protected, and Kudret/Turk would have open areas for play and exercise. This was very important to us…. After Kudret/Turk’s arrival we requested photos of him frequently. We only received sporadic communications; very irregular. He could not be reached by phone. After repeated requests, he sent us a single photo of Kudret/Turk playing with 2 other large dogs; a Great Dane and St. Bernard….
What Steve Markwell tell you about how Turk would be treated? The most awkward thing about Markwell, was his arrogance about how RIGHTEOUS HE was with dogs and how BAD WE were to “allow” our dog to be misunderstood!!!
I remember my wife telling me to “please” just get Steve to take him….do not lose your temper with Steve, it was Kudret’s/Turk’s only way to an extended life!
Steve was telling us he had a Great Dane that Kudret/Turk could play with because of Kudret’s/Turk’s size…..155 pounds. Kudret/Turk is an impressive dog!!! Most loyal dog I had ever known. As my wife would say, “he would lay his life down for us…..we need to do everything we can to protect him!”, including all we could do to spare his euthanasia.
We were told of outdoor play areas where large and small dogs played at different times. He indicated they were moved frequently and outside daily. He had “handlers” and help.
The dogs were (supposed to be) housed indoors in pens at night, fed and watered regularly. We visited his website, read reviews and referrals, and checked with rating agencies to ensure his place existed and was suitable for our pet.
How you found out how the dogs at the Sanctuary were really treated? My wife would always go to Steve’s/OAS’s website just hoping to get a glimpse of Kudret/Turk, just to know he was doing OK and was happy.
We even had the weather programmed for Forks, WA so we knew what type of day Kudret/Turk would be having. After time, she didn’t look his site up very much. We found no new postings and seldom any photos. Updates became infrequent, Markwell is not communicative – almost reclusive.
The website visits by my wife were painful, sad, and nothing was gained.
Then, last year, the end of December 2013 or the 1st of January 2014, my wife went to work on a Saturday and heard about the mud slide in Washington. She didn’t know where it was, and was concerned if it was close to Forks. She googled the article regarding the mud slide and then decided to check out Olympic Animal Sanctuary.
Evidently, there were stories coming up on the search engine, my wife selected one and started to read. As soon as she read three sentences she began to shake and cry and could not read anymore. It wasn’t good!!!
She tried to continue to work and then came home. Once she walked into the door, I knew something was NOT good!!!
She began to tell me what she was finding out. I advised her to stay off of the computer, as I sat and read the horrible events that were taking place!!!
We were both mortified and sick to think we THOUGHT we were doing a GOOD thing for our “boy”!!!!
You could ONLY imagine our relief when we saw a photo of Kudret/Turk among the dogs he transported to Arizona and that eventually that Candi had Kudret/Turk…..
We have been greatly relieved that Candi and her organization, Gentle Giants, were able to take in Kudret/Turk. We were able to track his location and saw postings of his photograph on her site.
We made contact and filled her in on his breed, his origin, how and why he was in OAS.
We believe she could see Kudret/Turk was not abandoned but was a well trained and very much a loved pet that ended up in a horrible place and situation not of his making or fault.
We are very grateful Candi decided to adopt him and provide the home that we always intended….he is so happy and it shows!!!!