Eighteen people protest dog shelter in Forks

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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EDITOR'S NOTE: See PDN stories of Oct. 6 on Steve Markwell and the Olympic Animal Sanctuary:

"Refuge or horror? Animal sanctuary draws worldwide attention," http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131006/NEWS/310069990/0

"Last chance for bad dogs" — http://www.peninsuladailynews.com/article/20131006/NEWS/131009978

FORKS –– Eighteen people marched through Forks tonight in protest of Steve Markwell's Olympic Animal Sanctuary.

On a Facebook page promoting the protest, 702 had registered that they would attend.

Carrying signs and banners depicting dogs said to be in the sanctuary, the protesters marched 1.5 miles from Tillicum Park to the Forks Elks Lodge at 941 Merchants Road to talk with city and county law enforcement officials gathered there for a dinner and a forum about crime in Forks.

The panel for the forum included Clallam County Chief Deputy Prosecutor Mark Nichols, Forks Police Administrator Rick Bart, Mayor Bryon Monohon, Clallam County Sheriff Bill Benedict and Clallam County Undersheriff Ron Peregrin.

Protesters said they hoped to get those officials to force Markwell to give up the 125 dogs he reported are in his shelter at 1021 Russell Road.

“We're here representing thousands and thousands of people across the world,” organizer Laura Mundy of Seattle said.

Officer Mike Rowley said Forks police had prepared for the possibility that hundreds would show up.

Yelling “Stop the Abuse” as they walked behind a police patrol car escort, the protesters were followed by a counter protester who gave only the name Heather who yelled support for Markwell.

“Leave Steve alone. Carry your butts back home,” Heather yelled across the street along the entire protest route.

Markwell has said he is the victim of a smear campaign based on “vendettas” from former volunteers.

Markwell said he is driven to save the lives of dogs that have been neglected, abused, found wandering feral or those condemned to death for attacks on humans.

“We save dogs you'd rather see dead” is the motto of the sanctuary.

No turkey dinneer

As the protesters walked past Sully's Drive-In on Spartan Avenue, a line of six cars honked horns and those inside yelled “go home” at the protesters.

Bart invited the protesters into the Elks Club to share the six-turkey dinner, but they declined.

“We're not here to have a turkey dinner,” Mundy said. “We're here to ask some serious questions.”

Protesters remained outside, holding signs, chanting and showing on a 4-foot screen pictures that they said were taken by Forks police during a October 2012 investigation of the sanctuary, while some 120 people inside ate the dinner.

Protesters were slated to speak with the law officials later in the meeting.

Markwell houses the dogs — some of which were condemned by courts around the country to death — in a 4,000-square-foot warehouse so they will not be euthanized.

None of the dogs he has taken in are “realistically adoptable” because of their behavior, Markwell has said.

A citation was written, but never issued to Markwell after that investigation.

City officials told the Peninsula Daily News previously they did not press the misdemeanor charge because they were uncertain about the legitimacy of the evidence used by the officer to enter the sanctuary.

Fleck said the violation, written because officers found a dog that may have been malnourished, would have been a misdemeanor.

Protesters said they became alarmed about the treatment of the dogs in Markwell's shelter after seeing pictures on Facebook and other Internet sites.

Christina Sanches of Seattle said she came across the anti-OAS movement through her work with “Stand Up for Pits,” a pit bull-advocacy organization.

“I saw the pictures of OAS, and knew I had to come stand up for them,” Sanches said.

Last modified: November 14. 2013 7:29PM
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