Animal sanctuary seeks donations for new home

Peninsula Daily News

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FORKS — Olympic Animal Sanctuary, a nonprofit rescue facility that shelters dogs that can't be adopted because of their behavior, has received a $50,000 donation in its search for a new home.

Sherie Maddox gave the shelter its first donation of the fundraising campaign.

“I want to help move Olympic Animal Sanctuary closer to Port Angeles, where there is a larger pool of volunteers and potential for student intern housing,” said the Port Angeles resident.

“Maybe someone will donate acreage for the new facility, and this ball can really get rolling.”

Since Steve Markwell opened the refuge in 2007 on a property in Forks that used to house the Decker and Johnson logging truck shop, it has grown to house more than 100 dogs.

Markwell — not only the founder and executive director but also the only full-time staff member at Olympic Animal Sanctuary — provides care, long-term rehabilitation and a lifetime home for domestic dogs, feral dogs, coyote hybrids and wolf hybrids that are considered too dangerous, too traumatized and too lacking in socialization to be cared for by private owners.

Many of the animals were abused, Markwell said.

Some of the dogs suffer from brain damage.

Snaps, an abused pit bull said to have been used as a weapon in a Seattle attack, is among the dogs that will live out their lives in the sanctuary

“I didn't know that anyone in the world, let alone in Clallam County, had the compassion and skills to rescue from euthanasia dogs labeled 'dangerous,'” said Maddox, former owner of Good to Go Grocery in Port Angeles and an Olympic National Park employee now concentrating on home-schooling her two daughters.

“Steve has a vast amount of knowledge about animals,” she said.

“He is skilled, he is compassionate, and his unconventional ideas make sense to me.”

Stories about Markwell's refuge and his methods of working with animals have appeared in People magazine, American Dog Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, as well as the Peninsula Daily News.

Said Maddox: “When I read an article about Steve and eventually met him, I wanted to help him help those dogs.”

Markwell wants to expand — to provide more space both for animals and for services — and to locate closer to potential volunteer and fundraising sources in the Port Angeles and Sequim area.

“Ideally, we are looking for a sizable property far away from residential neighborhoods but within easy driving distance of Port Angeles or Sequim,” said Markwell.

The $50,000 endowment is just a start, he added.

“We need much more help to reach a funding level at which we can purchase a plot of land and complete our estimated $100,000 Phase 1 of construction,” said Markwell, who has a master's degree in nonprofit management from Regis University.

Markwell and Matthew Randazzo, the organization's vice president and volunteer fundraiser, have been speaking to civic groups about Olympic Animal Sanctuary during the past two months.

“We thought that once our community learned about our mission to be a last resort for dogs, they would be eager to support our drive to build a new and improved sanctuary,” Randazzo said.

For more information, visit or

Potential donors with questions can email Markwell at

Last modified: July 15. 2012 5:52PM
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