Forks police in contact with owner of dog sanctuary

By Jeremy Schwartz
Peninsula Daily News

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FORKS — Police in Forks continue to keep in contact with the owner of the embattled Olympic Animal Sanctuary as protesters linger outside the 4,000-square-foot building where 125 dogs are housed, the city police administrator said Tuesday.

Rick Bart said officers are in daily contact with Steve Markwell, owner of the sanctuary he operates out of a pink warehouse at 1021 Russell Road.

“If he doesn’t call us, we call him, and we want to know what he’s doing,” Bart said.

“I’m not sure what his plan is right now.”

As of Tuesday morning, Bart said he saw two protesters outside the sanctuary as he drove past, adding that an officer drives past the property about once every hour.

“We’ve had no 9-1-1 calls from Markwell or the demonstrators,” Bart said.

Markwell issued a statement Saturday announcing he plans to close the sanctuary and wants to transfer the unadoptable dogs housed there to the 3,700-acre Best Friends Animal Society sanctuary in Kanab, Utah.

Barbara Williamson, media relations manager for the society, said Tuesday that Markwell had not yet contacted her group.

Markwell did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment Tuesday.

Williamson issued a statement Sunday saying Best Friends had asked Markwell to “get in touch with us directly and provide the information we’ll need to begin assessing the feasibility of providing assistance.”

Best Friends runs the nation’s largest no-kill sanctuary for abused and abandoned animals.

In his Saturday announcement, Markwell cited weariness with protests against his sanctuary as the reason for wanting to close up shop.

The property has been the focus of daily protests since Dec. 3.

On Monday, protesters and counter-protesters held signs in support of and against Markwell’s operation.

During a Monday hearing in Clallam County District Court 2, a Jan. 13 hearing date was set to address the alleged violation of a restraining order Markwell had against Tamira Thayne, founder and CEO of Dogs Deserve Better, based in Smithfield, Va.

Thayne has been one of two protestors demanding the release of a dog named Sonny from Markwell’s sanctuary.

Thayne was booked into the Forks jail Dec. 6 for allegedly violating a court order to stay 500 feet away from Markwell and his sanctuary when she stood in the driveway of the property holding a sign reading “I’m here for the dogs, they need help.”

Thayne was jailed for three hours before she was bailed out by a fellow protester.

She was not listed on the jail roster Tuesday afternoon.

In other court proceedings related to the sanctuary, Clallam County Superior Court Judge Erik Rohrer ruled last Friday that Markwell had not been served proper legal notice of a court hearing in which Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation of Seattle sought to have a pit bull named LeRoy returned.

Rohrer’s ruling meant the pit bull can stay at Olympic Animal Sanctuary through at least the end of this week.

The court hearing was rescheduled for this Friday in Port Angeles.


Reporter Jeremy Schwartz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5074, or at

Forks Forum Editor Christi Baron and PDN Reporters Rob Ollikainen and Joe Smillie contributed to this report.

Last modified: December 17. 2013 7:28PM
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