BREAKING: Former Forks animal sanctuary owner back in Clallam County
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Joe Smillie/Peninsula Daily News
Steve Markwell, former director of the now-closed Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, departs from the Clallam County Courthouse in Port Angeles on Friday.

By Joe Smillie
Peninsula Daily News

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PORT ANGELES –– Two months to the day after leaving Clallam County on a “desperate flight” with a semi carrying 124 dogs, Steve Markwell, former director of the now-closed Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, was back in court Friday to face charges of fraud brought by a former donor.

Sherie Maddox filed suit claiming breach of contract and misuse of a restricted donation against the sanctuary in November, saying a $50,000 donation she gave to help build a new shelter for the dangerous-dog sanctuary was used instead to fund operations.

Friday's hearing before Clallam County Superior Court Judge George L. Wood was on a motion for a default judgment brought by Maddox's attorney, Adam Karp of Bellingham.

Markwell claimed he had not been served notice of the suit and asked Wood for time to respond to the motion.

Wood granted Markwell one week to find an attorney to represent the sanctuary, which dissolved at the end of 2013.

After weeks of heavy protest against the conditions of his sanctuary, a pink warehouse at 1021 Russell Road, Markwell packed the dogs -- many of which he said he saved from court-ordered death -- into the 53-foot trailer and left Forks on Dec. 21.

Markwell and the dogs arrived at the Rescued Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation shelter in Golden Valley, Ariz., on Christmas Eve, where he turned the dogs over to New York-based Guardians of Rescue.

Markwell said after Friday's hearing that he had driven to Clallam County earlier this week in the semi truck and trailer after retrieving it from the Arizona shelter.

On Thursday, Markwell was in Forks, clearing a bench warrant out of Clallam County District Court.

The warrant was issued after he failed to appear in court after being arrested in December for kicking the car of a protester outside the sanctuary.

Many of the dogs have been adopted out to various rescue agencies around the country.

Guardians of Rescue officials told the Peninsula Daily News last week that 45 dogs remain at the triage shelter in the desert near the Arizona-Nevada border southeast of Las Vegas.

Sequim-Dungeness Valley Editor Joe Smillie can be reached at 360-681-2390, ext. 5052, or at

Last modified: February 21. 2014 6:01PM
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