WARNING: THIS POST CONTAINS PICTURES OF ABUSED DOGS
7 Years of Freedom
December 24th, 2020 marked the 7th anniversary of the rescue of over 120 dogs from years of abuse at the now defunct Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” in Forks, WA.
Forks resident Steve Markwell created the so-called “sanctuary.” He promoted it as a place where dogs with severe behavior problems could live out their lives instead of being euthanized.
Dozens of people and animal shelters that didn’t want to euthanize their behaviorally challenged dogs sent them Markwell, who assured them he would their dogs would live peacefully and happily for the rest of their lives.
Most people paid Markwell to take their dogs and/or sent regular payments.
Sadly, it was no sanctuary for dogs. Not even close.
Olympic Animal Sanctuary – A Jail for Dogs
The purpose of this post is not only to acknowledge the anniversary of the dogs’ rescue but also to give an update how some of the dogs fared after they were adopted or taken in by rescue groups.
For those not familiar with the story, below is a brief history of the series of events in 2013 that led to the rescue of the dogs from the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary.”
If you’d like a more complete commentary on how dog lovers rescued the OAS dogs, you’ll find it in the book, “I Once Was Lost, But Now I’m Found: Daisy and the Olympic Animal Sanctuary Rescue” by Laura Koerber.
Markwell Locked Dogs in Crates 24/7
Markwell kept up to 160 dogs locked in crates 24/7 inside a dark, unheated, drafty pink metal warehouse in Forks, WA. He forced them to live in crates and pens on top of filthy straw soaked with their own urine and feces.
The dogs got no exercise and had no reliable access to fresh water.
Every few days, Markwell fed them starvation rations that mainly consisted of maggot-filled meat stored on the dirty warehouse floor.
While the dogs suffered, Markwell collected hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations by promoting himself as a dog behavior expert (he wasn’t) who provided an ideal environment for abused dogs (he didn’t).
He also charged people who sent their dogs to OAS thousands of dollars for their dogs’ care, but he obviously didn’t spend it on the dogs.
In 2015 a Clallam County judge ruled that Markwell was guilty of 48 violations of charitable solicitation laws.
Washington Attorney General Bob Ferguson, who initiated the lawsuit, said that Markwell failed to document how he spent $360,000 in donations.“
News Story Exposes Abuse, Sparks Outrage
In early 2013 former OAS employees and volunteers posted pictures of the dogs trapped in the warehouse and the horrid conditions in which they lived.
The horrifying pictures showed the dogs living in their own filth with no water bowls in their crates. The few available water dishes had dirty, undrinkable water.
That fall, reporter Jeff Burnside from KOMO-TV News interviewed the former employees and volunteers a few weeks after they posted the pictures.
Burnside also showed up at OAS to interview Markwell and see the dogs inside the pink warehouse. Markwell appeared uneasy on camera and refused to allow Burnside in the warehouse to see the dogs.
He did bring out a few dogs for show and pretended to walk them. In general the dogs he took in public were well fed and appeared much healthier than the other 120+ dogs locked in the warehouse.
This created the mistaken illusion in the community that he provided proper care for all the dogs.
The pictures showed a dramatically different story.
As Burnside asked more pointed questions about the dogs, Markwell abruptly cut off the interview and walked away.
The pictures and descriptions in Burnside’s story, Markwell’s creepy demeanor on camera, and his refusal to allow Burnside inside the warehouse outraged Puget Sound dog lovers (including me).
Consequently, Burnside’s story ignited a campaign to shut down this fake rescue that abused and tortured the dogs it purportedly helped.
Determined Dog Rescuers Take Action
On November 14, 2013, a group of dog rescuers/activists from Seattle organized a protest in Forks against the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary.” After walking down Forks’ main street holding signs about the conditions at OAS, the activists attended a town meeting to present evidence showing the terrible conditions at the OAS and directly ask authorities to shut it down.
Forks citizens heckled the protesters during their march, and no one at the town meeting showed an interest in shutting down the “Sanctuary.”
However, the opposition the rescuers faced only intensified their resolve to shut down the OAS and save the dogs imprisoned inside.
The activists organized other protests in front of OAS and developed a campaign to pressure city leaders to shut it down.
My Visit to the “Sanctuary”
I began to research OAS’ horrific history after seeing Burnside’s story. The more I read about it, the angrier I got.
While trying to figure out what I could do to help the OAS dogs, I read about the protests. The work of these activists inspired me to go to Forks to see the pink warehouse myself.
I arrived in Forks on December 10, 2013 to protest in front of the warehouse and see if the conditions there were as bad as what I’d heard.
Spoiler alert: They were.
I didn’t make this video but the constant sound of barking dogs inside the warehouse is similar to what I heard for hours when I stood outside it.
Nonstop Barking, Overwhelming Stench, Garbage Everywhere
After standing in front of OAS for a few hours I wrote a blog post entitled, “The Olympic Animal Sanctuary is Just a Jail for Dogs”. Here are some excerpts describing what I saw and heard:
“Now that I have seen the Olympic Animal Sanctuary with my own eyes, heard the dogs howling and crying inside for hours with my own ears, and smelled the stench with my own nose, I’m convinced this “sanctuary” is nothing more than a jail for dogs.“
“The stark metal building had several openings where the cold air could seep inside. Junk and trash were strewn around the grounds. The “exercise yard” remained empty the entire time we were there.“
“With over 125 dogs crammed inside, you’d think cleaning the crates/cages, feeding the dogs, and taking them out for exercise would be a full time, nonstop job all day, every day, but when I arrived at about 11:30 AM no one was there.”
“…in some ways it’s worse than a jail. At least in jail inmates are allowed to go outside their cells for an hour or more a day. I never saw one dog outside. Not one.”
“Despite Markwell’s claim that he has enough help to care for the dogs at OAS, I only saw one person care for the dogs at all, and he spent more time sitting in his truck than working inside.”
“Some former volunteers joined me while I stood outside. They told me:
• the facility was “the most awful place they have ever seen”
• when they first went inside the smell was so bad their eyes watered and they couldn’t breathe
• the straw the dogs lived on was soaked with urine, and when new straw was added it was just thrown on top of the urine-soaked straw
• on a 98 degree day in August they never saw anyone give the dogs water during the 7 hours they were there
• several of the dogs chewed holes in the sides of their crates
• they kept a dog aggressive pit bull in a plywood box
• the meat the dogs ate was kept in boxes on the floor in the heat and full of maggots“
Rescuers Work Together to Save the Dogs
After my trip to Forks I worked with dog rescuers to develop a plan to help those imprisoned dogs and shut down OAS.
Jeff Burnside’s story about OAS and the increasing number of protests outside the warehouse created a huge public outcry from thousands of dog lovers in the US and around the world.
As more and more people learned about the abuse Markwell inflicted on the dogs, the pressure on him to shut down OAS and give up his dogs to actual rescues intensified exponentially.
I believe this relentless pressure forced Markwell to realize that he couldn’t hide his torturous treatment of the dogs any longer.
What we didn’t know at the time, however, was that the increasing pressure to shut down OAS prompted Markwell to develop a plan to take the dogs from the warehouse and move them to another location.
Markwell Disappears with Dogs
In mid-December, protesters noticed a decrease in the volume of the constant barking they heard from the dogs inside.
Some people speculated Markwell was moving the dogs somewhere, but no one really knew for sure.
That changed after someone sent me an email saying he had proof that Markwell was moving the dogs.
A couple of guys he knew snuck into the warehouse to take pictures of the dogs, but they found it mostly empty. They then took pictures showing the handful of dogs still there.
The guy who emailed me said he tried to give the pictures to one of the former OAS volunteers working to free the dogs but she refused to publish them.
The problem was the date stamp on the pictures. The person with the camera never set it properly so the date stamps didn’t show the correct day or year they took the pictures.
The volunteer showed the pictures to an attorney who advised her not to publish them because they had the wrong date stamp and couldn’t unequivocally prove the pictures were recent.
The guy then sent the pictures to me and asked if I would post them. I decided to do it because if Markwell was moving the dogs people needed to know immediately.
I then asked the guy if the people who took the pictures could go back in the warehouse with a current newspaper and take pictures with it in the background. This would show that despite the incorrect date stamp the pictures were current.
They agreed to do it and went back to the warehouse that night. About 3AM the guy who emailed me called to say the people were in the warehouse but all the dogs were gone.
He sent the pictures showing the empty warehouse with the newspaper in the background to prove they took the pictures that day.
Markwell On the Run
I posted the pictures and alerted all the people working to save the dogs that Markwell and the dogs disappeared.
We learned later that, as the pressure to shut down OAS escalated, Markwell hatched his escape plan.
Over the course of the fall he bought a truck trailer and built in dozens of wooden crates on each side of it.
He then backed up the trailer to his property and over several days loaded the dogs in the crates at night. That’s why protesters noticed the noise of barking dogs inside the warehouse decreased.
For about a week no one knew where Markwell took the dogs. Eventually, the rescue group Guardians of Rescue got in touch with Markwell and convinced him to turn over the dogs to them on vacant property next to a dog rescue in Golden Valley, AZ.
He arrived there with the dogs on Christmas Eve.
Dogs Finally Saved from Torture, Starvation
We later learned that Markwell kept the 100+ dogs locked in the crates inside the trailer with no access to food or water since he escaped from Forks with them.
The dogs then sat in the trailer for another week in Arizona while Markwell kept changing his mind about turning the dogs over to Guardians of Rescue.
He finally relinquished the dogs after Guardians of Rescue agreed to allow him to keep 11 dogs he claimed belonged to him.
Guardians of Rescue kept the dogs outside in kennels while it worked with several other animal rescue groups to find them homes.
Volunteers from the group Red Rover helped feed the dogs, clean kennels, and take them for walks.
A handful of the dogs had severe behavior problems that worsened during their confinement at OAS. These dogs were simply too unpredictable and dangerous and eventually had to be humanely euthanized.
But many of dogs sent to OAS didn’t have major behavior problems. Others had common behavior issues like nipping or aggression towards other dogs.
Markwell also took in puppies and dogs with no behavior problems to generate more cash.
But the 24/7 confinement and starvation the dogs endured at OAS exacerbated behavior problems for some of the dogs and/or created new ones.
A few people adopted dogs directly from Golden Valley. The rest of the dogs went to rescues that either found permanent homes.
If dogs weren’t good candidates for adoption, the rescues kept them and provided a safe, loving environment for the rest of their lives.
Many of these dogs had similar health/behavioral problems due to the Markwell’s abuse and neglect:
- Poor eyesight from living in the dark
- Deformed bones, poor posture, and loss of muscle mass from living in crates 24/7
- Cracked or missing teeth from chewing on their metal enclosures
- Rotten teeth due to lack of dental care
- Fear of men
- Fear of water and hoses because Markwell and others often sprayed them with water to quiet them down
Fortunately many of them overcame their fears due to the love and care provided by the dog rescues and adopters who saved them.
Below are some of their stories as told by the people who rescued them. You can click on the rescue names to go to their websites if you want to make a donation as many spent thousands of dollars to help these dogs. And some rescues are still providing care for them.
Some of the picture credits may be wrong because they came from multiple sources or people who didn’t want to be identified.
Dogs with asterisks next to their names have passed away.
(Note: Save Haven took in 15 OAS dogs, which was more than any other rescue. Seven years later, they still have some OAS dogs and continue to provide a loving, stable environment for them).
The Gabbs Dogs: Tippy *, Herbie * and Itsy *
Tippy, Herbie, and Itsy were the three Gabbs dogs that survived OAS. They, along with Dixie and Abel were part of a hoarding situation on a ranch located near Gabbs, Nevada. Between October 2007 and January 2008, rescues took most of the 144 dogs.
Tippy, Herbie, Itsy, Dixie and Able were in the last group of 57 dogs that were rescued by HSUS, Best Friends and Red Rover. We sent them to OAS with the belief that they would be cared for and socialized.
In 2013, we heard that conditions at OAS had deteriorated and many of the dogs were living in crates.
In 2014, after the OAS dogs arrived in Golden Valley, Safe Haven took back Tippy, Herbie and Itsy. We never found Dixie and Abel and presumed they hadn’t survived.
The three dogs were on the verge of starvation when they arrived at Safe Haven
Itsy and Herbie lived out their years as sanctuary dogs at Safe Haven. Tippy spent her last few years in a foster home.
All three Gabbs dogs died in the spring and summer of 2020, just a few months apart from each other. They were 14-16 years old.
The Wolfies: Gypsy and Denali *
(These full blooded wolves were named Zeke and Pecan at OAS and lived in a dark room at the warehouse in Forks).
The Wolfies came to Safe Haven at the same time as the Gabbs dogs. The first six months was touch and go with their health.
Eventually they blossomed and dug a den to move into. The Wolfie house was built over the den to protect it from the weather.
The wolfies had no interest in being socialized but learned to take treats and spent their years roaming in the big Wolfie yard.
Denali died in the spring of 2019. Gypsy followed soon after.
Wiley was a shepherd. His rescue surrendered him to OAS when he was about a year old. He was very shy and unsocialized. Before arriving at OAS, he jumped out a second story window and broke his leg.
Wiley exhibited no aggression towards humans or other dogs. The rescue that took him in thought he was a coyote hybrid so they sent him to OAS.
Safe Haven later determined he was a full-blooded German Shepherd.
As we have seen in many of the OAS dogs, Wiley was extremely sensitive to loud noises and stern sounding voices.
These were not behaviors he exhibited during his stay at his original rescue.
He has always been discerning of human interaction, but in no way was aggressive in nature towards anyone.
After Wiley arrived at his foster mom’s house a woman called to say she was looking for him.
She had saved and fostered him as a puppy, and when she put him up for adoption, Steve Markwell had contacted her to “adopt him” and use him in his “school program” to teach kids how dogs can be rehabilitated.
She thought it would be a great life for Wiley.
After living in a foster home for several months his foster mom found him a loving home where he lived for a couple of years before cancer took both his caregivers.
He’s now back with his foster mom, her family, and 4 “weenie dogs.” He still is very shy but he loves them and they love him.
Rosie went to OAS as a bite dog. Although reportedly one of Markwell’s favorites, she suffered both mental and physical abuse there. She had head trauma that caused a head tilt and in later years, a stumbling gait.
She also has several scars on her face that appeared to be the result of multiple dog bites.
Rosie spent about 3 years at Safe Haven with Dusty, who was her BFF. She was for the most part a loving and fun girl who enjoyed walks and swimming in the river.
Here’s a video Safe Haven made about Rosie after she passed away.
Roger was another bite dog. With people he liked and knew, he was a marshmallow. With strangers, not so much.
He has stayed at Safe Haven as a house dog and has helped socialize a number of other rescue dogs.
He is relaxed and playful with all other dogs, large and small. He has made Safe Haven his permeant home, and we are glad to have him.
Safe Haven’s video about Roger:
Walter and Bandit
Walter and Bandit are two of the DDI/Devore Shepherds. They originally went to Cold Nose Kennel, but came to Safe Haven in May, 2018.
They are fun loving, happy dogs, but have no real interest in humans.
They will stay at Safe Haven as long as they like and are much loved.
I’m not sure why Cookie went to OAS. She didn’t deserve it. Despite all she had been through, she was a sweet, happy girl.
While in Arizona, Cookie a vet found she had heavy dental tartar and broken canine(s). A few weeks after arriving (in April), Cookie had her blood work, dental and overall health checked.
She showed low iron count and as expected, she needed major dental work performed which included 12 extractions.
Her iron count returned back to normal after her dental work. However her stiff joints showed her age and she was put on joint supplements.
She was placed with a foster on her arrival at Safe Haven where she interacted with other dogs large and small.
Unfortunately, she was soon diagnosed with bone cancer and was put to sleep in her home, surrounded by friends in October 2014.
Here’s the video they made in her honor:
Tucker was a level 5 bite dog when he went to OAS in 2012. That means he bit someone multiple times and left deep puncture wounds.
A county shelter in North Georgia (Murray County Animal Control) rescued him in 2010. Our Pal’s Place rescue near Atlanta took him in when they learned he was on the kill list.
He was heart worm positive, and they found more than 20 pellets of birdshot embedded in him.
Tucker was a senior when he arrived in Golden Valley. His original rescue took him, but we later learned they sent him to Smiling Dog Rescue in Texas.
The group Protest OAS researched this group and determined it was another questionable rescue with hundreds of dogs
With the help of Tucker’s guardian angel (Maggie McDowell) we were able to negotiate his transfer to Safe Haven in October 2014. Once at Safe Haven, he became a house dog and was a joy to have around.
A few things could still trigger bites, but with few teeth left, he was no longer dangerous. Tucker passed away in February 2017 but will always be remembered for his smile.
Here is Tucker’s memorial video from Safe Haven Rescue Kennel:
Hazel was a 6- or 7-year old feral when she went to OAS and was still feral when she came to Safe Haven.
We quickly learned Hazel was not dog aggressive but was very uncomfortable with a collar and not leash trained. Not much is known about Hazel or her story before she was at the “Sanctuary” outside of being a dog picked up from the pound, a biter and a cat killer.
However, it is apparent she did not have much socialization with the outside world, people or dogs. I would not consider Hazel a feral dog now. She’s just undersocialized and fearful of human interaction.
Hazel is comfortable with having other dogs around but lacks the overall doggy social skills.
She learned to take treats and tolerated the leash but never progressed much further.
She shared a cottage and yard with Caesar. They played a lot and were happy together. In the Spring of 2018 Hazel’s health declined and she died in May of that year.
Hazel’s memorial video from Safe Haven Rescue Kennel:
Max was a Min Pin who was sent to OAS because of food aggression. If he had food he would “zone out” and go after any dog or human that tried to intervene.
When Max arrived to Safe Haven he settled in quickly. He was very comfortable around people and dogs (large or small) although he would prefer to smell and mark everything.
However, as you can imagine for a dog living in a crate 24-7 for years, Max isn’t very crate friendly. He is actually quite aggressive in a closed crate.
He spent two happy years sharing a yard and cottage with “the girls”, Joan and Betty. He loved walks and playing in the desert. He passed away suddenly in February 2016.
Max’s memorial video by Safe Haven:
Goofy went to OAS as a youngster along with his brother after someone found them as strays.
Life was not good to him at OAS and he had the scars to prove it. He was about six years old when he arrived at Safe Haven. Although never good with other dogs, Goofy loved all people.
Once he settled in, he was a wiggle butt, happy boy. We had hoped he would find a home, but he never did.
In September 2020 his health declined suddenly, and he lost the use of his legs. We said goodbye to Goofy on September 28th.
The only information I have about Sparky is anecdotal. He was kept 24/7 in a crate at OAS, never let out for exercise, food, water, etc. Everything was crate oriented.
When he arrived he would not be leashed, did not want to be handled, and didn’t allow any human touch. We just fed and watered him.
He refused to come out of his kennel. We weren’t even able to vaccinate him for the first 2-3 years.
It took months of desensetization and counter conditioning for him to finally come out of his shell. He then enjoyed running around the property and took on the role of “mouse and rodent exterminator.”
When I would let him out of his kennel (outside), he would immediately begin to patrol around the garage, house and gradually extended his limits to the whole 6 acres.
Periodically while doing this he would “check in,” by hopping on my golf cart, spend a minute or two on my lap, and lick my face. He would then “take off” on his rounds.
We had him on our website as a featured dog of the month. Lots of folks were interested in him but always wanted an “inside and lap” dog which he was not nor would he be.
He would always patrol the outside of the house, garage, shed barns, etc. but had no interest in anything “inside.” Adopters did not want a dog like that so I was resigned to the fact he would be one of our “forever” dogs.
Earlier this year an older woman (younger than me) called, had seen his picture on the website, had just lost her “outdoor” Jack Russell Terrier and wanted to look at him.
So she and her adult son came over. I let him out, explained all of his idiosyncracies, etc. including the fact that he did not like leashes, cars, long handling time and on and on. She said fine that is just what I am looking for, an outside dog that will be comfortable patrolling our property.
I said OK let’s give a shot, however, I don’t know how we are going to get him to your home given his issues with leashes, cars, etc. She had brought a small carrying crate with her. She put it on the ground, opened the door and the little stinker hopped right in. So much for all my warnings.
He was here, as best as I can recollect, about 5 years. Probably around 3 when he got here so he is somewhere between 8-10 is my best guess.
I lifted the crate in the car and off they went. Subsequent follow ups were and are positive, she’s happy (lives by herself), he’s happy and so am I.
Clyde was born in 2006 and taken to OAS at 6 weeks old. He was there for 7 years before I and my husband drove to Golden Valley, AZ to pick up Clyde, Bogart, and Peanut up and transport them to in Riverside where we volunteered.
My husband and I adopted Clyde. Bogart was adopted and is still alive. Peanut was also adopted, but I have no info on how he is doing.
Within days of his arrival at the Mary S. Roberts Pet Adoption Center Clydehad surgery to remove a cancerous tumor. The vet diagnosed with low grade stage 2 mast cell carcinoma, and gave him 5-6 years to live, but he’s still going strong!
Clyde also needed treatment for tape worms, hook worms, an ear infection, broken teeth, an inflamed spinal nerve, muscle atrophy, and malnutrition due to the neglect and abuse he suffered at the hands of Steve Markwell.
Clyde is on a very strict diet because of his irritable bowel syndrome. He only eats a limited ingredient dog food and brown rice suited for IBS. Even his dog treats are the same limited ingredient brand.
As you can see Clyde’s teeth were in pretty bad shape. He had a broken canine (most likely from trying to escape his confinement), a rotten little one in the front, and most are very worn down with lots of tarter.
We have tried many, many things and they all lead to diarrhea and vomiting as he can not digest most things properly because of the neglect he suffered at OAS.
He is 14 now and lived well beyond what was expected since he had cancer when he was rescued. He just had blood work done and all is well with no issues
With medication he is walking around very well. He still loves hanging out on the back porch overseeing everything.
He is still a very good boy.
A vet that looked at the dogs after they arrived in Golden Valley said that many of them had not eaten in as many as 2 months.
Having Clyde’s teeth cleaned has always been on our list of things to do, but we can only do a little at a time as vetting is costly.
We had his complete blood panel, thyroid, and urinalysis done last month, teeth to be done this month, and on to his CGC class next month. We love him so much and he deserves to be in good health.
We are lucky he had no major problems show up in the urine and blood work, except a bit of a low thyroid….and of course there is his cancer that he will have to live with one day at a time.
We hope to make his life as happy and healthy as humanly possible. He certainly deserves it.
Bogart was said to be 10 when he arrived in Golden Valley, AZ. He was 4-years-old when sent to OAS so he wouldn’t have to be put down for biting someone.
Markwell stuck him in the open area that was sectioned into many straw filled kennel spaces.
At Mary S. Robert’s Bogart was extremely excitable in his kennel, jumping and barking, making it difficult to get him out for training safely. In time he relaxed once he knew me and the routine.
His teeth were very bad, so I raised money to have his teeth cleaned and any other dental work needed, including having a bad tooth pulled. This helped his appearance and demeanor because he was finally free of pain.
I closely bonded with Bogart. We walked several hours a day. He minded me well and would sit or lay down when told.
I carried a long handle from a garden rake and desensitized him with it while walking by twirling it about. I taught him how to meet people and remain calm.
I was his only volunteer handler for 2 months. Then we put together a team of volunteers to handle and train him. Bogart needed more people involved in his training so he could become more at ease with many different people and easier to adopt.
He was definitely an alpha-type dog, but was fearful of many things including, water hoses, long handled things like brooms and garden tools, any commotion or people sticking hands through his kennel.
Bogart eventually allowed us to bathe him and learned not to be afraid of water hoses or long handled tools. He learned basic commands, and eventually he could walk near other people and animals without excitement,
It took a year to finally get him adopted in his forever home. A young couple with a German Shepherd adopted him They were well versed in training and could give Bogart the structure he needed to be a successful rehabilitation.
Bogart’s lives with the couple adopted him and provided a loving home that he so dearly deserved.
Pixie was from Missouri. Several people tried to make sure she had her best life. Unfortunately, the didn’t know how Steve Markwell treated dogs before sending her to the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary.”
Pixie came out of OAS a different dog. Before she left the ladies from the shelter would take her everywhere and dress her up in sweaters. She loved it.
Pixie was brought back their shelter several times because she couldn’t get along with other dogs. Ha!! I’m used to that with Malamutes.
She really did have to be by herself in the yard with only me or Nash. God he loved that dog. I’m sure they are in heaven together.
Pixie took a bit to get used to. She was better with me because women hadn’t abused her. Steve Markwell really messed her up with men.
We knew when she came she would never leave. I remember talking to Nash about it when I was asked to take her and he said yes!
We never looked back or regretted one day we had her.
After Nash passed she was sad for awhile. One day I was feeding there she was looking at me like “I’m ready for my turn”.
I went over to Pixie’s kennel to let her out and she just laid down. Gone. She must have had a heart attack or a clot to go that fast.
I still miss that girl. One thing funny about her…she would rub back and forth in her kennel like a cat, but watch out and don’t dare stick your fingers in! Everytime I had someone here looking at dogs she would do that.
I believe if anything or anyone tried to harm me she would of been at my side. She died about 2 years ago.
Hercules was our Rottweiler from OAS. He was a handsome boy. Never had a bit of trouble out of him. Sweet, but picky about his friends but like I said I own Malamutes so I’m use to it.
He was very sweet and protective. We never found out his story. I asked everyone and no one knew.
Hercules died of a ruptured hemangiosarcoma not long after Pixie passed away.
Hank the Malamute is still with us. He is about 10 now I guess.
He’s a diabetic now and gets his shots twice daily. Getting harder for him to get up so people donated for “help up” harness. It made a huge difference. Hank is a big Malamute and I’m getting old so anything helps lol!
Rogue went to OAS in 2007 after a neighbor of his owner claimed Rogue killed his shih tzu.
He was designated as a dangerous dog and scheduled to be euthanized, but after his owner heard about OAS, she convinced authorities to let her send him there instead of being euthanized.
We don’t know what happened with Rogue while he was in OAS.
When he arrived in Virginia a vet diagnosed him with laryngeal paralysis. He also prescribed medication to address Rogue’s severe anxiety.
Due to the periodic starvation rations Steve Markwell provided Rogue would only eat a couple kernels of food a day when he first arrived in Virginia.
He rationed his food because he didn’t know when he would get his next meal at OAS.
Rogue had no trouble getting along with other dogs and cats at the rescue.
He lived happily and safely here until his death in 2017.
Phoenix came to Haven of Hope Rescue in 2013, a survivor of a horrific case of abuse, neglect and hoarding from an individual posing as a “dangerous dog” expert.
In actuality, this man requested “donations” in order to take these “dangerous” dogs, claiming he needed the funds to build them their own enclosure.
In truth, over 125 dogs were stuffed into plastic and metal kennels, crowded into an insulated building that was neither heated nor cooled. It was just a dark warehouse.
Their confinement there was nothing but a cramped and filthy prison with no access to outdoors, no health care or good food, no love or touch.
These animals were deprived of every decent shred of human decency and every basic need and care they should have received.
When Phoenix arrived to us he presented with many issues, both in his health and in his psychology. There is too much to tell all of it, but the highlights of his health issues are that he was bone thin, his hair coat was very poor due to a lack of food and nutrition, his vision and hearing were affected and his physical stature was very alarming.
He moved in a hunched over manner with deformities in his lower limbs due to being confined in a crate much too small for him for YEARS, and suffered a heavy infestation of parasites throughout his digestive system as well.
It took several weeks before Phoenix was physically able to lift his head in a more normal position. He spent five years unable to stand fully due to the size of his enclosure, so he was forced to stand with his head down constantly.
Phoenix was eleven years old when he came to Haven of Hope. He had suffered awful neglect and abuse at the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” for five solid years thanks to Steve Markwell.
Additionally, he suffered the horrible trauma of being attacked by other dogs at OAS. In one incident another dog tore his tail off, but he never proper care for this terrible injury.
The suffering he endured was heart wrenching and made this seasoned rescuer very angry and so sad. When the call went out to rescues across the U.S. to help place these 125 dogs with rescue groups, he was the one that called out to us.
Phoenix’s rescuers had to shave his coat off because it was in such terrible condition.
So the wheels to get him to Oklahoma from Washington began to turn. Note: Hundreds of people worked to help these dogs, without each and every person involved, the rescue of all of them would not have been possible.
Psychologically, Phoenix flinched to touch, avoided contact with humans, turned away when approached, and did everything he could to keep humans from touching or hurting him.
He tried to hide. He avoided. He would turn his head away when we worked in his kennel, he was just hoping we wouldn’t see him.
He didn’t know we would never hurt him, because for five years, possibly longer, he knew nothing else.
It took a few months of allowing him his space and respecting his need to be left alone before he finally started to allow us to lightly touch him.
For a long time his response was to avoid first, then offer his teeth second. But finally, finally, he gave us his trust.
We had to remember that he had spent five years without kind human touch, good food, fresh water, exercise, and sunlight.
Phoenix continues to have significant visual issues for being kept in the dark for those years. He eyes do not dilate properly but he can see well enough to get around and watch the world go by from the back porch, which he loves.
Today, Phoenix lives with us as one of our own. He has his own room and bed in our home. He is starting to show his age. He is now approximately 18 years old.
At his last vet visit, he was prescribed some meds for some signs of arthritis, and we also give him supplements to help his old bones and joints. He still gets along okay, but does need help sometimes to get up.
He still has physical characteristics of a dog confined for too long in a space too small for him. But he knows when you are there, and will look for us with his eyes bright and his head up when he hears our noises. He doesn’t try to avoid us anymore.
While we will likely never be able to hug him, he now presses his face into my hands when I touch him, and leans into my legs when moving in or out. He allows soft pats and sometimes very short back rubs.
He has accepted us as his pack, and our other dogs give him great respect, although Phoenix doesn’t care for other dog interactions very much. It took a long time for Phoenix to even accept the presence of other dogs.
After a lot of hard work and patience, he can now interact with other dogs face to face without fear. I can’t describe what an incredible achievement it is for him to be with other dogs without trying to hide.
Right now, I am cleaning his room, so he is laying on a pallet in the living room watching the back and forth of my activity. I touch him often as I go by and drop him a Milkbone here and there.
He loves Milkbones, but his favorite treat is Vienna sausages. He also loves chicken noodle soup and scrambled eggs.
His vet says he is in great shape for his age. His last vet visit showed perfect blood work. But while he is slowing way down, and his body is deteriorating, he still likes to hang out with us and loves to be on the back porch where he can listen, observe and feel the outdoors. He loves lying in the sun.
Phoenix is an old man now, and he is very loved by Richard and I. We take great care to ensure he receives all the grace and respect he deserves and has earned.
He’s been through so many nightmares in his lifetime, but here, he has only known love, dignity, gentleness and the greatest care we can give to him.
He has turned into a gentle and quiet old soul. While he still carries the scars of his confinement and mistreatment and always will, he has finally learned that he can trust us, and I kinda think maybe he loves us a little.
He will only know love, peace, and our best care for as long as he remains with us. We’ve made promises to him that will always be kept.
To every single one of you that made such a difference to them all, thank you for being their heroes and giving us the honor to have this boy in our lives.
Phoenix has been a great gift to us, and has taught us many lessons that only he could teach. We will always feel honored to be a part of his life and to have been given the chance to change it for him.
He has finally shed those awful days, and is relaxed, happy, and trusting. Seeing him happy is good for our souls and makes this rescuer feel great peace for him.
I don’t think he has nightmares anymore.
Someone found Wiley running in the hills of California with 9 other shepherds. They were trapped and sent to Devore Shelter where many of them were deemed unadoptable due to being too feral. Wiley was one of them.
The feral Devore shepherds were all sent to OAS and for about 3 years. While Wiley was there another dog tore his ear during a fight over rotten turkey legs.
His nightmare continued until Markwell turned over the dogs to rescuers. Wiley was one of the last dogs to be rescued in Arizona and was brought to Wags to Riches in Yakima, WA.
Welcome to Wags to Riches Animal Rescue Center Wiley!
As a shelter volunteer, this is where I first met this super fearful boy.
With the exception of running wild with his packmates he had only known cages. Wiley was so scared and always stayed in his kennel cart when people were about.
As we have seen in many of the OAS dogs, Wiley was extremely sensitive to loud noises, metal bangs and stern sounding voices.
This was not a behavior he exhibited during his stay at his original rescue.
We put a large dog crate on a rolling cart like the ones at Costco and we wheeled him twice a day from his kennel to the outdoor covered pen.
He would only come out when no one was around. This went on for months.
I started taking daily trips to see him and would push his cart with him in it outside. I got a chair and just sat there ignoring him. I wanted him to get comfortable with me.
This also went on for months. I did not push him. I just let him figure out that I was a “good guy”.
After a few months, he started coming out of his kennel. I cannot tell you how excited I was for this breakthrough!
I upped the treat ante and he started taking the treats left for him on the ground a few feet away. He would never come too close.
One day I had a treat on my knee and he came to me and snatched it. This was the beginning for him. I managed to get a martingale collar on him soon after and then a leash sometime later.
I had to corner him in order to leash him up but once leashed he complied. He walked like a perfectly trained dog on his leash and still does to this day.
Welcome home Wiley!
Wiley was at our rescue center for 10 months and still was not even close to being adoptable. I wanted more for Wiley so we set up a meet and greet my dog Minnie, a 7# Brussel Griffon.
Wiley paid no attention to her, though I think he was more afraid of the three humans looking at him. I then decided to try to foster him in my home.
From the first moment Wiley stood in my yard I knew he was never leaving. So many firsts after that. He had a large crate with door always open in the kitchen and it took 2 weeks for him to come out of it.
I left pee pads by his crate and he would do his business when no one was around.
Then he had to overcome my flooring, the television, the yard – everything scared him. Then one day we went for a walk in the hills. That’s when I saw the side of Wiley I was waiting for!
It was as though he took a deep breath of air and exhaled. This was the way to bond with him!
I’ve had him for over 5 years now, and he’s about 11-years-old. His raised bed is attached to mine and it’s one of his favorite spots.
We have gone to numerous training classes and he’s gone to work with me for a year. We take lots of hikes and walk everyday at the park.
He still only trusts me and shys away from other humans. To me, though, he is perfect in every way and will always be my bff.
My mom passed away at the beginning of my fostering him. This was a difficult time for me. I needed something to nurture and it came in the form of Wiley.
God gave me Wiley and I am truly blessed everyday with him.
(Crockett’s mom was unable to send info about him so this post is comprised of past stories about him from his mom, Lionel’s Legacy, and Seattle DogSpot blog posts)
A former volunteer with the “Sanctuary” said Crockett didn’t do anything that warranted him going to OAS. He was just a stray that was uneasy around and suspicious of people.
Someone sent him to OAS because he growled at a potential adopter who moved towards the shelter’s trainer with whom he had bonded.
Lionel’s Legacy wrote this description of him when he arrived in Arizona:
“Crockett was emaciated. His eyes were sunken into his head, and he had little to no muscle mass throughout his body.”
“The atrophy in Crockett’s back legs was so significant that he had little control over holding himself up.”
“Crockett was covered in large puncture wounds around his left eye, neck and shoulder area. Part of his right ear was also missing which appeared to be the result of a dog fight.”
“Psychologically, Crockett was in the worst condition out of all the dogs. He was highly stressed, and suffered from substantial panic attacks.”
This awful video of Crockett spinning in his kennel shows the toll the neglect and abuse took on him while at OAS.
Here’s what Crockett’s mom said about him in past posts:
“We have been on quite the journey throughout these years. And, we never lose sight of the fact that every day that we have together is an absolute blessing.”
“He has become the most faithful and loyal companion I have ever known. He is my shadow from the minute we wake to the moment we fall back asleep together.”
“I have had a variety of dogs throughout my life, but none of them can compare to this amazing boy.”
“Crockett still suffers from PTSD. He was 30 pounds underweight when we adopted him. He had puncture wounds on his head and neck.”
“Crocket was also riddled with fear:
- Fear of touch, especially on his hind legs
- Fear of strangers, especially men
- Fear that food would be taken from him
- Fear of noise
- Fear triggered by the sound of hydraulic brakes (OAS was located next to a trucking company that had tractor trailers coming and going).”
“Two years later he still had panic attacks and night terrors. While the night terrors are becoming less frequent, Crockett still wrestles with his demons when he’s asleep.”
“During these scary episodes Crockett looks as if he’s trying to fend off something attacking him.”
“Crockett is now a healthy 80 pounds (he was 51 pounds when he arrived), and he continues to show us that that he is a very intelligent boy. He is succeeding at nose work, basic obedience, and impulse control.”
“I know that Crockett will most likely always be considered a “former OAS dog” or “an OAS survivor.” Regardless, I will work hard to help Crockett put those stigmas behind him.”
“Crockett’s past has haunted him long enough, and I know those ghosts will continue to be with him for some time…but this boy is creating a new life for himself. A life where he will continue to receive the support he need to be successful.”
Steve Markwell’s abuse left Crockett battered and broken. Fortunately his mom’s love and dedication helped him heal.
He will never be perfect, but he’s blossomed into a fantastic dog who’s living his best life.
Rainbow didn’t belong in the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” in Forks, WA, which supposedly was just for dangerous dogs.
In the picture above, you can see an extremely skinny Rainbow (on the right) in her kennel. A person who knew her both before and after she lived at the “Sanctuary” told me this about her:
“A shelter labeled Rainbow as “un-adoptable” for being under socialized and potential aggression. That was enough to sentence her to a life of misery at OAS.
Steve Markwell sent updates to a volunteer stating that Rainbow was “living in the house” with him, and that she was completely rehabilitated and had no issues. Of course I know now he was lying.
Markwell also said Rainbow was “living pack style”, meaning she was free to roam 24/7 and never spent any time in a kennel or crate. More lies.
In reality, Markwell locked Rainbow in a horrible dog run with her kennel mate Chance.
When we rescued Rainbow in Golden Valley she was in the best physical condition out of all of our OAS dogs. I believe this was because Markwell used her as a demo dog for public events.
You can see Markwell walking Rainbow in the interview that Jeff Burnside did on OAS. Even though Rainbow was physically ok, she was extremely fearful.
At the rescue Rainbow would flatten to the ground, and immediately go belly up whenever someone came into her kennel.
She was completely suspicious of any activity that occurred above her head or behind her.
Rainbow also showed extreme fear of men. Once we started training with her she rebounded quite quickly and demonstrated just how smart she really is. The fact that she was a quick learner, and loved to work helped her tremendously with her rehabilitation.
The rescue that sent Rainbow to OAS also paid Markwell “thousands of dollars” for her care. Clearly he didn’t use the money to give her anything but a filthy kennel and rotten food.
I think you can see from Rainbow’s pictures that calling her a dangerous dog was a lie. And after a few months of training, exercise, and love, a family adopted Rainbow. She now has a fantastic life.
When we first got Willie (Fergus at the time) he would viciously lash out at anyone who tried to touch him.
His hair was long and matted, and we knew his experiences with Markwell at OAS weren’t good ones. He had to be fully sedated to even be examined by our vets.
Willie had lived years at OAS in a small dark crate, little access to outside and terrible experiences with being handled. Considering his reactive behavior we were surprised he was even still alive.
When we got him on leash to walk him off the truck he threw himself into a death spiral like that of an crocodile spinning in the water after catching it’s prey. Our immediate question was COULD WILLIE BE REHABILITATED?
Our first steps with Willie was to let him adjust and decompress in a new environment with slow, small exposures to people.
After a month or so of settling into a new routine of regular walks, feedings, and kennel conversations with people he began to show signs of enjoying and eliciting human companionship.
We also used the services of an animal communicator who expressed to us that Fergus felt like a grumpy old man and we should change his name. We decided on Big Willie to help boost his ego.
We knew then he was ready to start some serious rehabilitation to address his fearful reactions and behaviors.
Thanks to our training coordinator Lisa Giacomero and our behaviorist Randy Davis we started basic deference training and learned that Willie loved to work.
After building a positive relationship with Willie we began to address some of his specific fears, mainly touch and guarding food.
After many many many rehabilitation sessions Willie turned the corner and realized that human touch can be a good thing. He now begs and pleads for it.
In fact, he turned into an attention hog. Willie also learned to trust other dogs. Eventually he became official welcoming committee to new Lionel’s Legacy seniors!
Willie passed away from bladder cancer in 2015. His many admirers miss him dearly.
Buddy was a loving dog with his direct family but always protected them when it came to those he didn’t know.
Unfortunately, in the late summer of 2011 Buddy bit a neighbor on the leg and chased another one.
After a call to animal control, Buddy once again was behind bars, but this time they declared him vicious and gave a death sentence.
We had heard about a facility in Washington State called Olympic Animal Sanctuary that rescued the dogs that nobody else would and after the owner Steve Markwell negotiated with the Animal Control that held Buddy.
They agreed that Buddy could go back to his trainer Paul where he would be securely boarded until we could raise the funds to pay for Markwell to take him. He claimed he would use the several thousand dollars we gave him to build Buddy his very own kennel and dog run.
Of course we now now he never built the kennels or dog runs and instead pocketed the money for himself.
After Buddy arrived in Arizona, Lionel’s Legacy took him and 4 other dogs. sent them to a rescue and rehab facility.
Lori, the woman who runs it, fell in love with Buddy and ended up adopting him. Here’s what she said about him”
“When Buddy came to us a year ago, he was emaciated, his muscles were atrophied, and he was extremely distrusting of humans, especially men.
Even though he had suffered so much, we could see in his eyes that he wanted to trust, but his strong, dominant personality was ever present, and he tested every person who came in contact with him.
With daily exercise, strong leadership and patience, Buddy began to see that a new life was beginning for him. He started putting on weight and his muscle tone came back.
He looked forward to his twice daily walk/run, and just being able to be a dog, running free in one of our yards and learning how to fetch without being overbearing.
After a few months, I decided to bring him into the house to live with me. I continued to work on his trust issues, refreshing his memory on his previous obedience training, smothering him with affection when he was a good boy, rubbing him all over his body to show him he could trust me, and working on his resource guarding of his food and toys.
When I thought of him in that awful situation as he laid fully stretched out on my bed, my heart ached for his past, but swelled with happiness for his future, knowing that he would never suffer again.
He still works daily on trusting people, but his eyes have softened and he is a very happy dog! I love you Buddy Boy…”
When we first rescued Jesse, he was extremely dehydrated and quite thin.
As with all of our former OAS dogs, he struggled with atrophy in his hind legs. He also had thyroid problems.
Regardless of what this boy endured, he is incredibly affectionate, and always wants to please his person. I loved working with Jesse, because he was so responsive and eager to work.
Not long after arriving at Lionel’s Legacy a wonderful family adopted Jessie. Finally, he had a home.
Jinx was a white Jindo – probably 5 when she came here. She was fast to bite if you got in her way.
Someone dumped her outside a Rottweiler rescue in Utah or Oregon which called Markwell to come get her.
They estimate she lived in a crate there for about 3 years.
We knew she would not be adoptable so we kept her with us and “managed” her behavioral issues.
We kept her apart from our other dogs. She had her own a yard off our master bedroom and could access it through a dog door.
When our weenie dogs were inside house, she stayed in our bedroom and her yard. During the day our weenies had their own bedroom and another yard (we live on a few acres).
Over the years she came to love us. Sometimes we could love on her and even play a little – but we were always ready that she could trigger and turn to bite – she was like a grumpy old lady.
We had to put Jinx down in August of 2018 due to a neurological issue.
DJango was a red Jindo – I think he was 4 when he came here. He hung out with Jinx for a second but he drove her crazy with his puppyish energy.
Supposedly he bit someone while chained in his owner’s front yard.
Animal control took him and then Steve “rescued” him from the shelter. We have no idea how long he was at OAS.
For a Jindo he was pretty normal guy. Shy at first and stand-off ish but still a great dog.
One of my clients who had adopted a previous Jindo from Two Dog Farms came to meet him, and they fell in love.
They adopted him and slowly integrated him with there other male Jindo AND a chihuahua (most Jindos love to eat small things). All three dogs and humans are doing great!
They all live in Reno and once a year when humans vacation the dogs come here for boarding – he is doing great!
Mimi owners left her abandoned and chained in a yard when they moved.
A rescue came to get her but once she was in a car she bit the volunteer on the arm.
She was due to be euthanized until someone heard about OAS. The shelter sent her there around September of 2013.
Fortunately for her she only suffered there for about 3 months before Markwell turned the dogs over in Arizona.
She was full of worms when she arrived but had no muscle atrophy since she hadn’t been at OAS very long.
Due to her bite history we couldn’t adopt out Mimi so we committed to keep her with us.
She lived with my husband and me until she passed away on December 31, 2018.
To us she was a sweetheart, and we miss her.
Thor was a very handsome boy. His history before he landed at OAS is unknown.
When he arrived at our rescue he was severely underweight, full of whip, hook and roundworms, and had atrophy in back legs due to no exercise.
Once we got him healthy at the rescue, he went to a wonderful foster home right near me.
They loved him but he became too protective of their daughter – he would go after anyone that was not a household member if they went near her.
So Thor came back to me. I made the decision that these three would stay with so they didn’t get bounced around due to their quirks.
Thor passed away quietly in August of 2017.
I loved all 3 of my OAS dogs but Turk he stole my heart the night the transport brought him to my vet.
He got out of the van, surveyed the area, came over to me, looked at me and lifted his leg to pee on me…clearly he marked his territory!
When he arrived he had the same health problems as Thor – worms, 20 pounds underweight, and atrophied muscles.
Thor’s owners sent him to OAS after he bit a child and killed a small dog.
His owners discovered out how poorly Markwell treats his dogs when they read stories about their arrival in Arizona. They spent hours on the internet trying to find any information about Turk.
They eventually tracked him down here and called about him. We spoke for a couple of hours and cried a lot.
I offered to bring Turk back to them but due to his bite history they couldn’t take him.
Turk was definitely a mom’s boy. Very protective of myself, my hubby and his home. He slept in bed with us every night.
He died due to a ruptured tumor in August of 2016.
In 2009, AARF picked up a stray pit bull in Seattle’s Georgetown neighborhood.
He was a beautiful dog with a huge smile, a particularly large head, and tawny fur.
He loved humans, but he also had a strong, aggressive prey drive which reduced his options for adoption considerably.
Determined to find an appropriate place for him, AARF Founder Heather Enajibi heard that the Olympic Animal “Sanctuary” took in dogs facing euthanization due to severe behavior problems.
She ended up sending Leroy to OAS. Markwell initially sent AARF a few reports and pictures about Leroy but eventually he stopped.
Heather realized something wasn’t right at OAS when she went there in 2012 with a friend to deliver donated food for Leroy.
Markwell wouldn’t let them inside the warehouse, and when he brought out Leroy, Heather said he didn’t seem “right.”
He completely ignored them – when AARF had him he LOVED people. The only thing that interested him was a rock he had with him.
Heather’s concern grew in 2013 when she saw the pictures of the dogs inside the warehouse taken by former OAS volunteers and Jeff Burnside’s reporting about the “Sanctuary of Sorrow.”
Heather asked Markwell to give back Leroy in the fall of 2013, but Markwell refused, so Heather sued him.
The judge ruled that “Markwell violated a 2009 contract that established Markwell as the dog’s foster caregiver by not giving the dog back when AARF asked.” and ordered him to give Leroy return to AARF immediately.
After an incredibly happy reunion with Leroy, Heather sent him to a place that would board him and help him get healthy.
Leroy was extremely malnourished. And due to his excessive rock chewing, his only activity for 3 years, he wore his teeth down to nubs.
Finding a home for Leroy was a challenge because he was a big, muscular pit bull with a high prey drive and needed large yard with a high fence where he could exercise.
In 2017, a family adopted Leroy for a few months but the match didn’t work out and they gave Leroy back to AARF.
Not long afterwords, another family adopted Leroy and he’s been with them ever since.
Now, instead of sitting in a cage 24/7 and having nothing to do but chew rocks, Leroy has an incredible life.
He’s the center of the universe for his new family. They give Leroy the run of the house, and he also has a big yard for exercise. They also give him lots of snuggles and kisses.
Although he’s slowed down a bit, Leroy is still in good health. Hopefully he will be around for a few more years so he can continue to enjoy the life he’s always deserved.
In 2006, someone found Brinks chained to a tree on the Appalachian Trail in North Carolina. The hiker who abandoned him left a note asking that Brinks be taken to “authorities.”
Brinks hadn’t eaten for days. He was exhausted. He’d worn down the pads of his feet trying to escape the tree.
The good samaritan who found him took him to Our Pal’s Place, a no kill shelter in Marietta, Georgia.
During his two years there, he displayed trust issues with people and bit someone. One night, a volunteer was taking out the garbage while Brinks was in the yard. The details are fuzzy but Brinks knocked the volunteer down and showed aggression.
After that incident, Our Pal’s Place chose to place him in a sanctuary. In their own words, they were looking for someone to help him with his demons.
Our Pal’s Place chose the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington. The motto of the Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS) was “We save dogs you’d rather see dead.”
Brinks arrived at OAS in 2008.
Tragically, he didn’t receive the professional and high quality care that Markwell promised he would get.
Instead, Markwell stuffed him in the warehouse where he was locked up 24/7 and starved along with the other 100+ dogs in there.
When Brinks arrived in Arizona he was dangerously emaciated.
The rescue group Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation brought Brinks and another OAS dog to Washington.
Unfortunately, because Brinks had serious food aggression issues and a general mistrust of humans, he wasn’t a good candidate for adoption.
Brinks lived near Snoqualmie Pass with someone who nursed him back to health and gradually help Brinks to trust humans.
When it was clear that Brinks couldn’t be adopted his caregiver decided to give him a permeant home.
For 5 years, he gave Brinks the love, attention, and nutrition the dog never had before.
Brinks passed away peacefully in his sleep in 2018. While his demons weren’t completely exorcised, the love, attention, and nutrition he got after his rescue made his last 5 years the best of his life.
Jill and Kodiak
The weekend included presentations by Paula who shares Jill and Kodiak’s story. In her own words, “All the animals that come to our rescue are the victims of some kind of abuse.”
Jill and Kodiak were some of the worst abuse cases we’ve had. Jill has a lot of skeletal damage from living crammed in a box for a really long time. When you watch her walk, she walks way down on her legs.
Jill and Kodiak were some of the worst abuse cases we’ve had. Jill has a lot of skeletal damage from living crammed in a box for a really long time. When you watch her walk, she walks way down on her legs.
That’s the result of muscle atrophy from being in that box, and she’s deformed.
The only time that Jill gets upset is if a really big man with a deep voice comes near her pen.
She will growl because that’s her trigger cause by the abuse she endured by that man who ran the “Sanctuary of Sorrow,” Steve Markwell.
Jill’s comfort with meeting hundreds of strangers this weekend, including small children, puts her trigger for men who resemble Markwell in sharp relief.
Paula shares Jill and Kodiak’s story to explain the work at Wolfwood *and* to educate the public about how to be a responsible donor in the rescue world.
She described the Olympic Animal Sanctuary as a scam and said to the audience, “Please DO NOT give your money to places you don’t know or that you have never visited.”
We also applaud Paula for repeatedly pointing out that the pens used at this weekend’s event are NOT used for housing the dogs. Back in Ignacio where the sanctuary is located, the dogs have acre-sized enclosures.
Jill and Kodiak not only spend every day with each other, they also spend their days with skilled staff and visitors who’s primary role is to provide daily human socialization.
Dogs Adopted Directly from Arizona
Bailey was known as Bosso prior to and during his time at OAS. He was purchased from a breeder in Oak Harbor, WA by a family with children.
As are most Great Pyrenees puppies, he was adorable and irresistible. Somewhere along the way that went wrong. At 2-3 years of age, he was surrendered to OAS as a biter. Here the stories diverge.
One source says that he had started biting the woman and others said he had started biting the man. Either way, he was surrendered and sentenced to life in hell.
At OAS he lived in a horse trailer, in the yard (at Markwell’s house) and
I understand that he sometimes accompanied Markwell, more or less a “publicity dog” due to his impressive appearance.
When he came to us he only weighed 78 pounds at his first vet visit, which is way below his prime weight of 95 pounds. He also had double dew claws growing through his foot pads.
When I met Bailey at Oasis in Arizona, he was a sweet boy right from the start, but his sweet disposition is coupled with a lot of fears. Dogs aren’t inherently mean and don’t become biters because they are mean. They are usually afraid.
After we rescued Bailey his fears soon started to show and he was still a biting risk. He was afraid of confinement and being forced to do anything makes him afraid.
Fresh out of Arizona he showed us his fear of confinement when he started to growl and snarl at us in the small airplane we flew home in (I was able to sedate him).
At home he was afraid of anything shiny—windows, shiny appliances, mylar bags—as well as anything that he perceived might be used to hit him. We had a dog behaviorist come in for an assessment, but she didn’t seem to see anything too unusual in his behavior, albeit her exposure to him was limited.
She told us that he may have a level of PTSD, which made sense to us. Great Pyrenees are large powerful dogs that have sensitive souls. We set about trying to do things that would heal his damaged soul and let him know that all people were not going to hurt him as he had been hurt in the past. He needed to feel safe.
We made sure he was comfortable, well fed, and given a lot of positive attention and love. He has never been hit or threatened in any way in our care, and we carried out with positive reinforcement techniques.
We learned quickly that he did not want to be touched when lying down or sleeping. He adopted one corner of the living room (near the front door where it is cool) as his “safe space”.
When he is there, we don’t bother him, even now. Guests in our home are told that he is a “dog with rules” and they should leave him alone in his corner, not pursue him to give him attention and always let Bailey be the one to approach.
The rules let Bailey be in control and being in control of his situation are key to his happiness, which is consistent with his guardian breed heritage.
Bailey seemed most stressed in the evenings between 6pm and 9pm. We never knew why. He would lash out and bite without obvious triggers.
His triggers are extremely subtle, and he is a dog who had lost the ability to growl in warning. He had very little bite inhibition.
It took us a couple months to realize his problem with shiny objects would trigger his PTSD episodes. Once we knew, we started a series of “It’s OK” exercises.
We would go pet the glass door and say in a soothing voice, “It’s ok, it’s a glass door” or touch the refrigerator and say, “It’s ok, shiny refrigerator”.
We gave him lots of treats, lots of praise, and lots of love. It took about 2 months before the lashing out from these triggers stopped.
Bailey’s recovery went well but it was a long haul and we are not trained dog behaviorists, just experienced Great Pyrenees people. During the second year with us, we decided that he still had a lot of anxiety that wasn’t abating so we talked with our vet and decided to try putting him on a low dose of Prozac.
It helped calm his fears so he could learn that he didn’t have to be afraid. After approximately 2 years he didn’t need it anymore.
He’s now a very sweet and loving dog who is not often afraid of anything.
Bailey is about 12-years-old and is the Grand Old Man of the house. He gives Pyr Hugs, where he stands next to you and leans hard against you. He barks at you when he wants attention or wants outside.
He squeals with excitement when you come home from work – your first task once home is to sit on the sofa and let him sit on your lap for a 20-minute session of rubbing his head, neck and chest. He kisses your chin.
He loves to go to parks and meet people, loves snow and gets morning toast with his people almost every day. He has a “guy friend” named Benny who is a Pyrenean Mastiff and a playmate Pyr mix named Abby.
They are happy together. Some of his emotional scars are still there but many have healed. He is still a biter, but substantially less reactive than in his early days.
People we know that know Bailey routinely tell us that they can’t believe he is the dog we brought home. He is just a sweet old guy!
Someone told me Lilly was the first dog that Steve picked up. She was with another dog that was her kennel mate in that dreadful warehouse that did not survive.
There are photos of the two of them in their dirty kennel with black water to drink. She was there for over 9 years. We estimated that she was about 9-years-old when we rescued her because she arrived at OAS as a puppy..
The only crimes these two committed were being stray pups on the loose. They were both friendly, happy dogs that never did anything wrong.
When I adopted Lilly she had a really bad case of hook worms that took about six months to get cleared up. Her coat was dull and brittle.
She might have been a Lab, but she didn’t have a love of water. Someone told me that Markwell hosed them down as a way to get them to stop barking. Don’t know if that is true, but getting Lilly into a bath wasn’t easy. But, once in it, she let us bathe her without problems.
I had followed the saga of Steve Markwell and that pink warehouse through Maggie McDowell on Facebook for over a year before the dogs arrived in Arizona. Through her encouragement I made my phone calls to every official in Forks, wrote letters and went there to be part of the protests.
When we found out Markwell fled on December 24, I made the split second nd decision to pack up my truck and head to Golden Valley on December 26.
We landed in Las Vegas on New Year’s Eve, exhausted and too tired to do anything but hit the bed. With encouragement from a few friends I set up a PayPal account for donations and made a Facebook post about this awful place and my year long involvement.
I went to Arizona because I had spent every day of the last year on my internet trying to make a difference for the dogs. I went to the protests on my own.
I went there on my own accord…nothing could stop me from going and seeing this thing finished and those dogs out of his evil clutches.
From the day we started our trip back home, my son and I knew Lilly was special. I think I knew she was going home and prayed she would pass the cat test and not want them as food.
Actually she passed every test she had to pass with flying colors. Lilly was an instant joy. She did have a fear of men for a long time.
Fortunately my husband and son had infinite patience with her, and slowly she began to trust them. She played catch with them and they gave her lots of treats.
She was a model dog when we went outside for walks in a park or by a river. Time, encouragement and patience was all she needed.
She became a puppy again, chasing her balls, playing with toys and becoming a buddy to a few of the other dogs here and even some of the cats.
Sadly, Lilly passed away from a possible malignant hemangiosarcoma tumor on her spleen December 31, 2018. She was approximately 12-13-years-old. We were devastated, but so glad we had this time with Lilly.
Markwell should rot in hell.
When Alex arrived here, it was very evident he lived inside a house at some point in his life before OAS. He was fully potty trained and trained not to get on furniture. He had excellent house manners.
The first several months Alex was here, he would aggressively go after anyone who got within 25 or 30 feet of him. He would act calm at first, almost friendly, then he would suddenly charge at the person, lunging at them in attack mode, for no apparent reason.
It was necessary for me to be very careful with Alex and warn people to keep a safe distance from him.
After much work with Alex he is calmer now than he was when I got him. He still lunges and barks at strangers that get too close to him.
Several dog trainers have told me Alex will not change his behavior with training, just deal with his issues and make sure people stay a safe distance away from him.
After Alex is around someone several times, he becomes friendly with them and no longer barks at them.
Other than being overly aggressive with strangers, he has been a great dog and an amazing companion. When I got Alex, he was approximately 6 years old. He’s about 13-years-old but no one knew his exact age.
When I first got him, he was under weight and didn’t have very much strength or stamina. After feeding him well, he started gaining weight.
After going on a few months of frequent walks, his strength and stamina increased greatly.
His back legs and spine were slightly bent out of alignment, probably because is was confined inside his dog crate for a long time.
The misalignment seems to have corrected itself and fortunately Alex doesn’t have any readily apparent long term effects from his stay at OAS.
When we got home I put him in a dog kennel. It was very large pen with a huge doghouse. Luke could not believe that he could run in then out and wasn’t stuck in a crate!
He did this for several days, enjoying the air and sun with the freedom to run around. I cried hard about it.
After about a week I brought him in house. I set up his crate in my room and left the door open. He then jumped up in my arms while was on the bed. e soon was in my arms.
Many times he would just sit and smile at me and our connection grew stronger every day to the point where iff anyone talked to me or came near Luke would lunge and try to bite them.
I could take him places if he wore a harness but it was obvious he had severe fear aggression and it became to dangerous to take him to public places.
He was mostly blind from being kept in dark for years, and it made his fear worse. I soon just kept him with me and away from other people which was easy because I lived on farm.
He lived with me for 4 years. I definitely spoiled him. I took him with me on trips ands..he slept in my bed. He was perfect to me and super loving but as soon as he heard a person he would try to attack them.
He had extreme muscle atrophy from being kept in cage for so long and was in pain at times but managed quite well. He went blind as well.
Eventually the pain increased to the point where I had to let him go.
I loved him so much. We bonded so closely. I just wish he could have lived longer without the blindness, atrophying muscles, and pain.
Romeo was rescued in 2010 from a desperate situation & could not be adopted from the shelter he was surrendered to in Eastern Washington because of a bite incident that was not his fault.
He was a cautious, respectful dog who had some anxiety & trust issues and was quite protective of his home & yard, but I felt he would be adoptable to an experienced adopter within a few months.
One day we were out for walk and a man walked up to us and reached out to Romeo with a leather gloved hand. Romeo reacted out of fear and nipped him.
The man reported Romeo as a dangerous dog. I was concerned that maybe Romeo was more than I was equipped to handle since I was quite new to dog rescue.
I had heard Steve Markwell speak at a public appearance he had at the Bellevue Humane Society when he took in the dog Snaps from King County Animal Control. I was impressed with his knowledge and felt that he could help Romeo and so I made the difficult decision to send Romeo to OAS.
Markwell told me that Romeo would have a new large enclosure at OAS. I donated substantial funds for that to be built for him. A few months later I was told that Romeo was with a foster family.
When the photos of what OAS was really like appeared online, I immediately asked that Romeo be returned to me and fortunately he was returned.
None of what I had been told was true. Romeo’s behavior issues were really quite minor and always had been. He deserved a great life and we were committed to giving him that life.
We made the decision to keep Romeo with us for the rest of his life and we have been very grateful to have him as our senior dog of the pack.
Roscoe came from an SPCA shelter in Tennessee. He’d had a tendency to run away from whatever foster home he was placed. It wasn’t about fleeing a bad environment. He just didn’t seem to understand the concept of “home.”
His last chance came when he was at another foster home when he got out again and beat up another dog, a small one.
The owners of the small dog took the shelter to court, accusing them of fostering out Roscoe even though they knew he was a runner. A judge ordered Roscoe euthanized and sent him to a vet clinic for his final days.
But Roscoe had supporters and, just as the vet clinic was closing for the day, some of his supporters sneaked him out and put him on a volunteer transportation network, heading far away from Tennessee and the judge.
His supporters had raised money to find him a permanent home at OAS, or so the advertising claimed.
Sadly, Roscoe went from one horrible situation to a living hell inside OAS,where he learned to fight in order to survive.
He lost weight. He became dirty and itchy. He hardened. Fortunately the team closed OAS and the dogs there found new homes and new hope.
Behaviorally, Roscoe was a wreck. He was pleasant but distant. He didn’t understand food. The strangest sound (the microwave, for example) would send him under the bed shaking uncontrollably.
When he passed another dog while on a leashed walk, he would inexplicably lung at the other dog, lightning fast, and sink his teeth into their skin. Unprovoked.
We think it was a “get them before they get you” response from OAS.
The process of teaching him not to flee took a long time. During a few of those moments weaning him from a leash, he would bolt away. We coaxed him back. Slowly he learned love. Security. Happiness.
When we’d take him on a walk in the woods, he would just pause and sniff the air and look up at the tall trees and listen for minutes and minutes at a time – just taking it all in.
When we’d leave for a few hours, we’d come home to find him so deeply asleep that he took a few minutes to wake up – it was silent and peaceful and he was deeply asleep.
He learned to show us his love by running wildly through the house and jumping onto the bed in shear ecstasy. He was a dog again. He loved being alive.
We were told he was about 5 or 6 when he left OAS. Sadly, he developed a lump on his throat that turned out to be cancer.
After living the best year of his life, he passed away. Roscoe left a huge hole in our hearts, but taught us so much.
Our beloved Goose, the Treeing Walker Coonhound, passed away in 2019 at the age of 12.
He knew only love and gentleness for five years after his six terrible years in the bad place.
His poor broken mind never quite fully recovered, but his heart fiercely loved his dads and fellow pack members.
When we first brought him home, he had to learn how to eat and drink and poop without panic and distress.
He ate only fresh homemade food with us, and delighted in having a warm tummy, baying and lurching around joyfully after eating.
He had a big high fenced backyard with blackberry thickets to hide in, lots of wildlife to look out for, and plenty of room to run. While we had him, he survived adenocarcinoma, and later coonhound paralysis.
In the first weeks of the terrible paralysis, we slept on the floor with him, caring intensively for him 24 hrs a day until he pulled through. He CHOSE to live.
He learned to walk again, albeit awkwardly, but we still had to help him rise to his feet. His limited mobility taught him to communicate effectively, and he developed a large vocabulary of bays signifying specific needs: “Dad, I need ____!”, and of course we would come running dozens of times a day.
It made us laugh to see <strong>this formerly terrified, timid, uncommunicative hound with no idea how the world worked now pounding his proverbial fists and demanding special attention</strong> in the full confidence that he would get it.
Over the last year, his customary seriousness blossomed into goofiness and good humor. He continued to surprise us to the very end.
We will always be grateful to Becky Tanasse-Pascua who brought Goose from Arizona to a recue in Yakima, and for trusting us to be his family. He was the apple of our eye, and we loved him beyond all bounds.
I believe that Ralph and his sister Rosie were born at OAS. After he was rescued he went from Arizona to a rescue in Long Island.
He then had 2 failed adoptions (First lady got pregnant and didn’t want to keep either of her dogs. Second family dumped him back to rescue at age 13 because they got 2 puppies, and didn’t want to deal with a senior dog).
I happened to see a Facebook post shared by a friend, looking for a 3 week foster for him. He came to us on July 7, 2018 overweight and very wary of men. He also had arthritis, especially in his hind legs.
The person who had committed to foster him for 3 weeks decided that she would only take him if he had a clean bill of health, which he obviously didn’t.
The rescue was going to find another foster for him but my husband and I couldn’t imagine this poor dog being shuttled off to yet another strange home.
We committed to keeping him for the remainder of his life. Since we already had 2 dogs, Angela Amodio was amazing and helped with his vet bills as much as she could.
We let him settle in, gave him anti-inflammatory meds and a reduced calorie diet. He became a happy dog, and was my shadow.
Over the 22 months we loved and cared for him, he had 2 mast cell tumors removed. While under anesthesia, the vet tried to do a dental, but quickly realized that his teeth were in such poor shape that she removed all of them.
In time he also developed heart failure. We fought back with an arsenal of cardiac meds for as long as we could.
As his arthritis progressed, his mobility declined, but his spirit never dimmed! He would amaze us with little bursts of energy and would “jog” short distances in his own way.
His mistrust of men (my husband and son had to go slow for the first few months) improved over time, but he never fully got over his fear of unfamiliar men, especially those who were wearing hats.
For the last couple of months of his life, once he could no longer navigate the stairs, we used a soft stretcher to bring him up and down the 2 floors of our raised ranch.
On May 31, 2020 Ralph was set free from his failing body. I was absolutely devastated, but still take comfort in knowing that we spoiled him the best we could.