UPDATE: January 11, 2014.
Dogs Deserve Better drove to the dogs location in AZ, and was asked to compromise on Sonny, due to an agreement between Guardians of Rescue and Markwell. A compromise was reached where he would be released to a NY trainer that is known and trusted by Dogs Deserve Better. We have yet to receive word as to when the transfer will take place.
Dogs Deserve Better did instead bring two of the Devore Shepherds back to the center, one of which is quite feral, and the other is pretty much ready for a home already. These two dogs ended up at OAS in June 2012 and spent 1.5 years living in crates, with not once glimpse of the outside, breathe of fresh air, or chance to even stretch their legs or defecate outside of a crate. Now they will receive the best of care and new, inside, homes and families. Read the blog of our trip across country with them and their arrival at the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, VA.
UPDATE: December 30, 2013.
Sonny and all the OAS Dogs are now FREE! That's right, THEY ARE FREE!!!!!
They have been turned over by Markwell to the custody of Guardians of Rescue, and are being staged at a rescue near the Nevada/Arizona border. We are told that Sonny is alive, and groups will soon be able to go out and reclaim the dogs they had released to Olympic Animal Sanctuary.
Dogs Deserve Better hopes to drive a van out within the week and help Guardians of Rescue with the tough task of caring for all these dogs for a couple of days and then bring Sonny and 1-2 others back with us to the Good Newz Rehab Center in Smithfield, Virginia.
This was a group effort, and Dogs Deserve Better is very proud of the part we played in bringing these dogs out of hell into safely and on to new and better lives.
We are incredibly grateful to all who donated to make our trip out there to fight for their freedom possible. Because of you and all those who advocated on behalf of these dogs, they are free today! Thank you.
UPDATE: December 19, 2013.
DDB founder Tamira Ci Thayne and Rescue Coordinator Robin Budin travelled to Forks, Washington as promised from December 3-15, 2013 to request Sonny back in person and see the warehouse where the dogs are kept. Tamira wrote a blog about the experience, visible here.
The situation there was dire, and we assure you it was as we'd read about and worse. Here are the highlights of the trip and our discoveries, but for more information, visit the blog.
• We were not allowed to enter or step foot on the property, and we were never allowed to see Sonny or any of the dogs with the exception of the one that was in the yard on days one and two and the four dogs who were visible in one window on December 14. What was there to hide? Groups that are not hiding something are proud of their dogs and facility and will willingly show anyone who asks to see them.
• During our entire stay, not one protestor saw one dog leave the warehouse for a walk or trip to the vet or any kind of human interaction or exercise. NOT. ONE. DOG. ALLOWED FRESH AIR or EXERCISE.
• Instead of having a conversation with us to address our concerns, OAS founder Steve Markwell filed a restraining order against both of us (Thayne and Budin) in order to keep us from protesting. This is a violation of law, and we are entitled to damages for making false claims under Washington state Anti-Slapp laws which protect free speech. Keeping us from protesting was not legal or ethical, and so DDB founder Tamira Thayne made the tough choice to violate the order and protest anyway. That video is above. She was arrested and jailed for three hours before being bailed out by Robin Budin.
• There were no employees or volunteers going in to care for the dogs. The dogs barked at all hours of the day, and yet the ONLY person seen going inside while we were there was a young male employee. He was usually seen entering for about 1-2 hours total a day.
• The young staff member told Seattle Dogspot's Robert Pregulman who was there protesting at the same time we were that there were 125 dogs inside. Markwell was seen only entering the warehouse on our last day on December 14, 2013 there for 4 minutes.
• The warehouse where the dogs are contained is not heated and is a mess on the outside, which one can only imagine reflects what is seen on the inside.
• We spoke to many, many people who all had a cousin or a brother or sister that had worked or volunteered there and all said the same things: dogs living in crates, never taken out for walks, for exercise, for bathroom breaks. The dogs above urinate in the crate and it goes down onto the dog below. Dogs fed rotten food, rarely given water, not given food daily. No vet care, the stench was heinous. Most quit after one day.
• Markwell allegedly attacked protest leader Maggie McDowell's car, breaking a light and screaming at her. Police were driving by and he was arrested and charged with malicious mischief. She received a restraining order against him. He failed to show up for our hearing to tell our side of the story, and the restraining order was dropped. Attorney Adam Karp is still pursuing the Anti-Slapp violations on our behalf.
• Markwell is being sued by a donor who gave him $50,000 for the purpose of building a facility elsewhere. The money was allegedly used but not for its intended purpose. He is also being sued by a rescue group who had a dog named Leroy there under a foster agreement, but he has refused to return the dog.
• Protests at the warehouse continue. We are encouraging EVERYONE to continue to protest until these dogs are given up to rescue groups.
• We maintain that the dogs are owned by Olympic Animal Sanctuary and NOT by Steve Markwell, who is the founder of the organization. As such, it is the board of director's DUTY to fire Steve Markwell from both the board and the executive director's position and release these dogs to rescue.
• We believe that everyone together has made inroads in this horrendous misuse of nonprofit status. We are proud to have played a part in it, but it is not yet over. While Markwell has been saying he will give up the dogs and shut down, we want to know where the remaining dogs are and why he is hiding them, as reports are currently that Forks police went in and saw 40 dogs on December 18th. He is reportedly in talks with Best Friends Animal Society and Guardians of Rescue to release the dogs. We are praying this is true, but stick with this story and these protests until it comes to fruition. As we have stated, in November 2013 he made an agreement with Forks Police to cut back to 60 dogs in order to avoid prosecution. He then ignored that agreement and still had 125 dogs while we were there.
Some places to keep up on the latest information:
Robert Pregulman of Seattle Dog Spot has been posting updates almost daily. He travelled from Seattle to Forks while we were there and became just as convinced as we were that conditions were unacceptable. He is doing an excellent job of pulling the information together. http://www.seattledogspot.com.
For the latest protest information, visit these two facebook pages:
This was one of the photos taken outside the property on December 14, 2013. This crate was one of the crates on the 'bottom' and you can see the inch or so of hardened dog urine that accumulated on the top from the crate above. In our opinion, you need look no further for evidence of the truth than seeing this crate.
Protestors at Olympic Animal Sanctuary, December 14, 2013
Tami celebrating her freedom to return to the protest line after the bogus restraining order is dropped.
Outside the pink warehouse in Forks, Washington
If there's this much garbage outside, can you imagine what is inside the unheated building?
Tamira Thayne and Robin Budin arrive with their signs asking to see the facility and Sonny, but are met only by police reminding them not to trespass. There are no employees in sight, caring for the 125 dogs in the warehouse.
Initial Post: November 19, 2013
It's a rescue group's worst nightmare: you release a dog to another organization in good faith only to find out that the 'sanctuary' you envisioned for the dog is the opposite of what his or her life has become.
No dog deserves to live chained...but unfortunately,
Sonny's life was better on the chain than at OAS. Not acceptable!
In the summer of 2012 a Washington state representative of Dogs Deserve Better rescued a dog named Sonny from the chain. Sonny bit his foster dad soon after coming into rescue, and was subsequently transferred to the Olympic Animal Sanctuary in Forks, Washington—ostensibly to have sanctuary for life and daily training for any aggressive behaviors.
"Sanctuary" is defined as "a place of refuge; asylum."
Sanctuary implies a safe place to rest your head. Nowhere does that definition include a 24/7 caged life without so much as a daily walk, human interaction, clean food and water, and air to breathe that is free of ammonia and toxins.
We at DDB had heard rumors and seen photos that horrified us, but in September 2013 we were undone when we learned our group had been one of many who sent a dog to the Olympic Animal Sanctuary.
Our representative was mislead by false claims into sending Sonny to a situation that is WORSE THAN DEATH. We are informed that Sonny lives in a crate 24/7, never leaving this crate for walks or human or dog interaction. The smell is described by the police themselves as eye-watering, and by the founder's own admission dogs are not fed daily. What the hell is going on here?
This fraudulent misrepresentative of the sanctuary must cease and the dogs must be release to reputable rescues.
We want Sonny returned to Dogs Deserve Better, as we have already lined up alternate resources for him. We have not given up on him. We also want access to the Sanctuary and the other dogs to assess their conditions—the Olympic Animal Sanctuary is a 501c3 nonprofit organization which is morally obligated to show transparency in its operations.
This includes welcoming and allowing access to other nonprofit organizational representatives when requested.
We have written the sanctuary founder numerous times before going public without response asking for Sonny's return and to see the facility; written the mayor, the media, law enforcement. All without success.
Want to see photos, police reports, citizen complaints, e-mails and evidence of life at the Olympic Animal Sanctuary for yourself? Visit this facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/OAS-life-inside-the-sanctuary/396180077155674
You will be as blown away as we are. This is actual evidence from police reports, neighbor complaints, and photos that break your heart.
On December 2, 2013, Dogs Deserve Better founder and CEO Tamira Thayne and rescue coordinator Robin Budin will travel to Forks, Washington in order to agitate for the release of Sonny and all the other dogs living in what we are told is hell for dogs.
We are joining those courageous dog advocates who have seen the situation first hand and have put their very lives on the line to gain freedom for the dogs of OAS.
A long line of rescue groups have tried to work with the OAS to improve conditions, and each has been turned away. Below we are told is a recent photo of Sonny in a cage at OAS. We are not sure, there is another photo of a dog in a crate too. Either of these could be Sonny.
God help us all.
Many dogs live in crates 24/7 at OAS. Those who ask to come in to visit are refused.
We want to see what current conditions are today, we want to see Sonny's living conditions
and we want him released back to Dogs Deserve Better.
We need your help to advocate for Sonny and the other dogs. Can you come to Forks, Washington anytime between December 3-14 to fight by our side? If so, e-mail Robin Budin ASAP at firstname.lastname@example.org.
If not, Dogs Deserve Better is in desperate need of donations to make this trip to fight for our dog and the rights of the other dogs at OAS. Unfortunately, unlike the big groups who have budgets for this kind of advocacy, Dogs Deserve Better doesn't have money set aside to fly and set up a unit elsewhere. However, we believe that in this case it's absolutely crucial, and we strongly feel that we will be provided for.
Can you help financially by donating expenses for this mission? We expect to meet with everyone we possibly can, including the mayor of Forks, law makers, law enforcement, the founder of OAS, and we will be protesting and picketing as necessary, moving to locations each day that will best meet the needs of the dogs who have no voice.
Wish us luck, send up a prayer, and offer whatever help you can for these dogs. We must all raise our voices if we expect to be heard. We thank you in advance.