By Arwyn Rice
Peninsula Daily News
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Markwell slipped out of Forks early Saturday morning driving a semi with a 53-foot trailer loaded with the dogs that had been housed in a two-story warehouse at 1021 Russell Road.
Robert Misseri, president of the Smithtown, N.Y.-based Guardians of Rescue, said Monday he has been in regular contact with Markwell, tracking the progress of the semi and its passengers.
The trip has been slowed because Markwell is the only driver and he has stopped to feed and water the dogs and take the animals out for breaks, Misseri said following cellphone conversations with Markwell.
Neither Misseri nor Markwell has disclosed where the semi is headed.
Guardians of Rescue is organizing the dogs' release to other organizations from an undisclosed rendezvous that Misseri would only say is in a warmer climate.
“The safety of those animals is our only concern. This is going to be a tremendous endeavor,” Misseri said.
Markwell was on the road with the dogs before he contacted Misseri to find a place for them, and their meeting place was selected late Saturday.
He described today's rendezvous as a distribution center as “an hour from anywhere.”
“There isn't another place on the planet that would let that truck pull up and unload those dogs,” Misseri said.
Most of the dogs were turned over to the no-kill Olympic Animal Sanctuary after they were determined to be dangerous and have a history of attacking or biting other animals or people.
Each of the organizations receiving the dogs will be fully informed of the animal's history, Misseri said.
“There will be a file on every dog,” he said.
Misseri said he didn't yet know what organizations will be represented at the distribution center.
“I hope everyone who said they would help shows up. We hope they all stand by us,” he said.
Misseri said he would have preferred organizing the transferal of dogs from the warehouse in Forks rather than on the road.
“It's going to be a long journey. I wish it didn't have to end this way,” he said.
Guardians of Rescue is seeking donations for the dogs' care until they are ready to be distributed to participating rescue groups.
“We're going to need support and kennels,” he said.
Several pallets of dog food have been ordered and will be waiting, and a veterinarian will be at the site when Markwell arrives.
Every dog will be examined and given a microchip and its own 8-foot-by-12-foot kennel during its stay at the distribution center.
“These are not dogs who can be placed together,” Misseri said.
The organization is short on kennels and needs more to house all 124 dogs, he said.
Cash donations to help pay for dog food and initial medical care can be made at the Guardians of Rescue website, www.guardiansofrescue.org.
Information on how to donate kennels to Guardians of Rescue will be released as soon as arrangements are made with Lowe's Home Improvement, from which the organization will purchase kennel materials, Misseri said.
Reporter Arwyn Rice can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5070, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.