OLYMPIC ANIMAL SANCTUARY WAS NO SANTUARY
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. Markwell fed them 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 but they didn’t prevent them from finding homes.
“Don’t wear black.”
That was the warning Janice Walker gave me before my wife Randy and I went to visit Bosso (now named Bailey), a huge Great Pyrenees rescued from the “Sanctuary,” at her home in Lynnwood, WA yesterday.
She gave me the warning because Great Pyrenees are white with LOTS of hair, and in addition to Bailey, she has 3 more of these gentle, giant dogs – Max, Louise, and Kate.
That’s a lot of white fur. They have a couple of cats, too.
Janice used to volunteer with National Great Pyrenees Rescue, and both she and her husband Ed are long time lovers of this majestic breed.
Bailey suffered in the “Sanctuary” for about 4 years.
HITTING THE JACKPOT
Bailey is now in a home where he gets everything he needs – love, toys, play, companionship, exercise and medical care.
When Bailey was at the “Sanctuary,” however, he was locked in a horse trailer, alone, living on hay covered in his own waste, eating rotting, moldy meat every few days, and forced to endure the pain of a nail that had grown so long it curved around and went through his foot.
It must have taken months, if not years, for that claw to slowly pierce his paw – I can’t imagine the pain he had to endure.
Janice said Bailey was extremely skittish when he first arrived. From about 6PM-9PM everyday, he would get really restless and agitated, which she attributed to Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD) from his cruel confinement at OAS (other people who took OAS dogs reported similar behavior).
He has other lingering issues as well. When he got a dog bed, it took him a few days to figure out he could sleep on it.
He still sleeps by himself in the living room because he’s scared to walk down the hallway to the bedroom where everyone sleeps, which is understandable since he spent his time confined in small, dark areas at OAS.
GETTING BETTER ALL THE TIME
But Janice said his behavior has improved significantly since he arrived, and he was a perfect gentleman when we saw him. Great Pyrenees are known for their gentle, loving behavior and their devotion to their humans, and Bailey is no exception. He stuck like velcro to Janice while we were there, and he latched onto Randy and me at various times too.
I love meeting the former OAS dogs. Steve Markwell deceived people into thinking these dogs were extremely dangerous and beyond rehabilitation, but once rescued, their personalities blossomed, and their transformation into happy, healthy dogs is nothing short of miraculous thanks to dog lovers like Janice and Ed, who gladly took in Bailey even though they already had 3 Giant Pyrenees in their house. Now they have about a quarter ton of them!
I had never met a Great Pyrenees before yesterday, and I loved them! We may end up rescuing one of them one day, but I’ll have to get a new wardrobe first because, like most Seattleites, I wear a lot of black.
Here’s a short video of Bailey playing with his sisters Louise and Kate. He’s the biggest big white dog.