Update from Steve Markwell of Olympic Animal Sanctuary

Many readers here have been following developments involving anonymous accusations against Olympic Animal Sanctuary (OAS) in Forks, WA.  I’ve made my position clear.  Accordingly, I contacted Steve Markwell directly when anonymous accusers recently resurfaced in the blog comments to dredge up old news as if it’s new again.  I am reprinting his response here in its entirety.

At issue is an alleged cruelty citation which appears in a Forks police report about OAS spanning October – December 2012.  I posted about OAS in April and linked to an April article in an area newspaper which said:

“Conditions at the sanctuary also were investigated last fall in a six-week animal-cruelty investigation by the Forks Police Department that showed no evidence of cruelty, Bart said.”

Bart is Forks Police Administrator Rick Bart.  I asked Steve for an update and specifically to address the apparently contradictory information about the alleged cruelty citation:

First and most importantly, the citation was never issued — I was not charged with anything, never knew there even was a citation until I got the records myself, and still don’t even know what dog they were talking about. They said I had a malnourished dog, but as you know an animal can be thin for reasons other than malnutrition — a vet would have to determine the reason the animal was underweight, and of course no vet was ever consulted. As I said, I still don’t know what dog it is.

To understand the police report there are a few things one needs to know, and I have kept quiet about them because I have been in ongoing talks with the city over this. I see no reason to keep things quiet now, though, so here is a brief rundown:

1. A report was made to the city by Scotlund Haisley from Animal Rescue Corps. If you are not familiar with Haisley I strongly suggest googling him. It helps to add the word “lawsuit” to your search. Haisley’s report was based on the photos and accusations made by Pati Winn, the admin of the anti-OAS Facebook page. It was delivered to the city two years after Pati left. The statutes of limitations on misdemeanors are one and two years, by the way. So one might be inclined to think that someone who took photos of dirty kennels instead of cleaning them was waiting it out.

2. The police officer who investigated the complaint did so only after I and two other concerned citizens went to the city to discuss problems with the city animal shelter, of which she had been put in charge. Her name is Julie Goode, and she is another one to google. She was responsible for an illegal raid on a family farm at her last job in Kitsap County that resulted in half the shelter administration resigning and almost got the shelter shut down altogether. Now she works here.

3. Julie came to OAS and made a number of false accusations with regard to my dangerous dog licenses. She then told me about the ARC complaint, but not who had made it. (I already knew because they tried to go to the county authorities first and they asked me if I knew Haisley and ARC.) She went on to say that if I didn’t submit to a search, she would come back with a warrant, and then if she found any violations she would charge my two workers. I allowed her in only to protect my workers.

4. Julie did her search and while there were some problems — we were struggling financially at that time — she could not point to any actual violations. Still she said I had to downsize or she would confiscate all the animals and send them to kill shelters. She expected me to do this on an arbitrary timeline and said if I didn’t, she would shut me down. Again, no legal basis for any of this, just ‘I’m a cop and you have to do what I say.’ So I researched her and saw that she was taking a similar course with me to what she had done in Kitsap, and I hired a lawyer immediately and made a complaint to the city. He happened to be the same lawyer that had sued her over the Kitsap case. Julie was pulled from my case. This is important for a couple of reasons. First, since when does the person being investigated get to have the investigator pulled if there hasn’t been wrongdoing on that investigator’s part? Second, Julie was pulled on November 12. Keep that date in mind with regard to her report and the ‘citation.’

5. I got Julie in trouble, before she wrote up her report, and that is reflected very clearly in what she wrote up. She was sure to address my specific complaints by making statements that I willingly let her in without being coerced, making no mention of threatening my workers, etc. But she went further and twisted the truth or simply made things up. She claimed that I told her I don’t provide vet care, that I told her I can’t handle my own animals, that I told her I wanted to dose the entire place with Ketamine. All lies, and Julie, while unable to file charges, was allowed by her supervisor to create this false report and write a citation up and put it in my file. Imagine if the DMV was allowed to put unissued speeding tickets in your driving record, that any employer who pulled your record would see. That’s what was done here. We have emails between Julie and her supervisor where they discuss trying to get another officer to issue the citation, but that never happened, I assume because no officer would agree to issue it. We also have emails where both she and her supervisor state that this case is personal because I hired a lawyer — this is a clear sixth amendment violation.

6. Currently Julie is still off the case and it is my understanding that she is not allowed to even speak to me. My dealings have been directly with her supervisor and the city attorney. Both have stated to the media that I am breaking no laws, in spite of what Julie’s report says. The city attorney has admitted to my attorney that Julie’s report was based on Scotlund Haisley’s complaint, not on her own search. Frankly I don’t know how she still has her job.

People are claiming that the city is protecting me and that I have all these political connections. The truth is that the city has been harassing me since November and in that time I have distanced myself from everyone I know in government so there wouldn’t be any appearance of impropriety. The reason they are giving me a hard time is not that they think I am breaking the law or that they want me out of here — they have been very clear about that. The reason they are giving me a hard time is that the city attorney says he doesn’t like all the phone calls he is getting and wants them to stop, and he believes the only was he can make them stop is by proving that he is ‘doing something’ about OAS. He is probably right — these people won’t stop until all the dogs are dead. Their goal now seems to be to cut off my support so the animals will starve, but I’m the bad guy.

The big question is this — how is it that Elizabeth Schlitz, the same person who created the fraudulent petition to shut down OAS, got these records when I still have not received a copy of the ARC complaint that I requested in November? We still do not have this complaint, the document that started it all, so we still don’t know if it contains blatantly false statements, and this is important, because if it does, as we suspect it does, Haisley and Winn made a false report to the police. It looks to me like they are the ones being protected, not me.

A few other things to note: Pati Winn uses the aliases Petey/Peter First and Sarah Elliott. Colleen Lynn is also part of this group — I don’t remember what alias she is using. You probably know who she is, but if not, google. Others, like Jason Victory, real name Airick Heater, are members of ALF, and some are just sad, lonely people who do nothing but have flame wars on Facebook all day long. In total we are looking at about ten people — ten people are going to get all these dogs killed if we can’t get some support. I can give you more names and info later if you are interested but right now I need to get to work.

Steve

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24 Comments

  1. Well, well, well….is all I can say.
    Thank you, Shirley, for giving Steve the opportunity to present his side of the story. As I said in the comments of the first posting about OAS, every coin has two sides.

    Reply
  2. Facebook has been the death of many (mine included) rescues that are struggling and just barely making it but still doing a good job. If those people that waste their time flaming people and rescues/shelters that they personally have never been to would donate the minimum wage for each hour they spend flaming to those places much good could be accomplished. If only people would try helping instead of hurting just because they can!

    Reply
  3. mikken

     /  July 23, 2013

    All very sensible and reasoned. Thank you, Steve. We know that there are people out there, people who think they mean well, think that they are doing good, when what they’re really doing is flexing their egos in the name of righteousness. Sadly, people (and animals) get hurt in the process.

    That said, Steve needs financial support. To get it (and keep it), he must do more. He must show people the dogs, the facility, the progress. This is a standard (ongoing) requirement for any sanctuary that seeks outside aid in this age of information; but it is vitally necessary for one that is beleaguered by introduced doubt. Whether that doubt is introduced fairly or unfairly doesn’t matter (and that itself is obviously unfair), all that matters is reassuring the supporters that all is well, that things are moving forward, and that their support is going to what they intend.

    No, there’s no justice to it. Yes, it would be lovely if the ego flexers could only do harm as far as the real world evidence allowed, but that is not the case. The *doubt* enters the mind as soon as mud is slung and that needs to be handled and handled well. If OAS is to survive, they’re going to have to push back with more than words.

    Reply
    • Kittypurr

       /  July 23, 2013

      Unfortunately opening the doors and having transparency didn’t help Cabiodle Ranch.
      Rescues need a good legal team to go after these destroyers of life before they do unto you. ALF has PeTA and thus HSUS monetary backing.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  July 23, 2013

        OAS needs to dispel doubt. Caboodle wasn’t able to do that effectively. Even long time supporters were unsure of what to believe.

  4. Kittypurr

     /  July 23, 2013

    Clarification- if ALF stands for the Animal Liberation Front.

    Reply
  5. AHA!!! I wrote a couple of stories about the Bailey incident, in January & February of 2012… Now I know where all the people involved in this slunk off to!

    http://animallawnewsandabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/olalla-couples-farm-raided-animals-seized-due-process-denied-til-now/

    http://animallawnewsandabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/dirty-prosecutors-ac-are-at-it-again-kitsap-county/

    I didn’t realize that Steve was any relation to them but I lived up the hill on Banner road from the Bailey’s. They (Kitsap In~Humane) destroyed these people, their animals & their lives. I helped them & their attorney, & now it makes perfect sense why he is now Steve’s attorney. This also answers the question as to why this so~called ticket OAS haters are passing around was NOT listed on his record for the state website

    So this Julie no~Goode issues a citation after there is an issue which is never posted on Steve’s record BUT hands it over to the general public. I think Rod Fleck had better worry now because that violates about 14 state laws I can think of & I’m going to send that to his attorney.

    So for all the haters, who tried to bash me when they couldn’t get at Steve… How does that crow taste? Salt might help or it might sting just a little but you’ll get used to it.

    Brandia

    Reply
  6. Reblogged this on Animal Law News & Abuse and commented:
    AHA!!! I wrote a couple of stories about the Bailey incident, in January & February of 2012… Now I know where all the people involved in this slunk off to!

    http://animallawnewsandabuse.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/olalla-couples-farm-raided-animals-seized-due-process-denied-til-now/

    http://animallawnewsandabuse.wordpress.com/2012/01/04/dirty-prosecutors-ac-are-at-it-again-kitsap-county/

    I didn’t realize that Steve was any relation to them but I lived up the hill on Banner road from the Bailey’s. They (Kitsap In~Humane) destroyed these people, their animals & their lives. I helped them & their attorney, & now it makes perfect sense why he is now Steve’s attorney. This also answers the question as to why this so~called ticket OAS haters are passing around was NOT listed on his record for the state website

    So this Julie no~Goode issues a citation after there is an issue which is never posted on Steve’s record BUT hands it over to the general public. I think Rod Fleck had better worry now because that violates about 14 state laws I can think of & I’m going to send that to his attorney.

    So for all the haters, who tried to bash me when they couldn’t get at Steve… How does that crow taste? Salt might help or it might sting just a little but you’ll get used to it.
    Brandia

    Reply
  7. Shellie

     /  July 25, 2013

    Of course Steve is trying to come across as the innocent victim. We wouldn’t expect anything less. So sad people actually believe his line of BS. Open your eyes people! Good grief. I’m embarrassed for those who are so blind.

    Reply
    • debrisbardeaux

       /  July 25, 2013

      Shellie: Our eyes are open – no citation was issued, case is closed, no evidence of cruelty. It’s Steve’s fault that he was investigated based on a potentially false report to the police and evidence was found or charges were filed? Come on!

      Maybe it’s time you get an eye exam.

      Reply
  8. Tracy Leighton

     /  July 27, 2013

    I don’t think it matters if 3 people pretend to be 10 or a 100, if they are, because if this story is true people need to be informed. Many people are now concerned if the city attorney is complaining about the amount of phone calls he receives and this is what they wanted. Neither does it matter the history of these people or of Steve. This is so clear. Open up OAS and let people see how well the animals are treated or how much abuse is going on. Run regular tours this will allow people to see for themselves. This will benefit the animals either way. If conditions are good more people will want to support this place; If conditions are bad then they will be helped.

    Reply
    • mikken

       /  July 28, 2013

      “Regular tours”? Of a facility that houses feral and registered dangerous dogs?

      Seriously?

      The insurance alone would be astronomical. The logistics would be daunting. And the facility would need to be upgraded to zoo standards at a cost of … lots.

      No, allowing the public in is not a practical solution. But because Steve is dependent upon donations, he does need to work to increase the visibility of his dogs, his work, and the facility.

      Reply
      • Tracy Leighton

         /  July 28, 2013

        I guess ‘regular tours’ was a poor choice of words. What I was trying to say is in your words was ‘increase visibility.’ Surely there are plenty of experienced people that could visit; I didn’t mean to imply the neighbor down the street. If government and news personal are safe there then something could be regularly set up. If there is nothing to hide then don’t make it look like it’s in hiding.

      • mikken

         /  July 28, 2013

        And that’s the problem…the instilled doubt *must* be dispelled. Whether the doubt is justified or not, whether the situation is fair or not, it does not matter.

    • It ABSOLUTELY matters when people are hiding behind anonymous profiles & making accusations. When I go after a mill, BYB or a bad rescue I use my full name with real documents, not false certificates. If I am wrong I go back & fix what I have gotten wrong & at the very least I give the person the chance as well to tell me their side of the story so I can better understand the dynamics. Once the anti~OAS group is found out for one lie they backpedal & throw another one on top.

      This has been such a freak show of lies & mudslinging that I have been getting screen grabs of each new story these 3 or 10 or 100 people are coming up with every week.

      The history does matter because it is the root cause of all of this nonsense. Goode lost her job for the second time with Kitsap Humane because she screwed up so bad, almost everyone in the organization was either fired or resigned, going after Steve is the ONLY way she could gain back any credibility & get her revenge. The city attorney is getting upset because he is getting so many phone calls because the accusations are without base or merit.

      Here is a couple of stories I did which lays out the framework & timeline of these events

      1) http://animallawnewsandabuse.wordpress.com/2013/07/25/here-is-my-letter-inre-olympic-animal-sanctuary-to-the-city-of-forks/
      2) http://animallawnewsandabuse.wordpress.com/2013/07/26/revisiting-the-bailey-case-so-you-can-understand-the-olympic-animal-sanctuary-fiasco/

      These dogs couldn’t handle “tours” going through there. I would advise Steve not to let ANYONE in there now unless they are family or friends he has known for years & of those friends NO ONE in the animal welfare rescue business.

      Reply
      • mikken

         /  July 29, 2013

        Your point is valid, of course.

        But. Once the mudslinging starts, the sanctuary/shelter must work hard to dispel the doubt. That is vital to maintain donor good will.

        Focusing on the source of the doubt becomes a he said/she said and does nothing to help those who are on the fence choose which side to support. And people who are on the fence don’t give money.

      • Or they could just go on with business as usual & let the attorneys sort out all the garbage & innuendo’s which seems to be exactly what Steve is doing & that to me is what is in the best interest of the animals.

        Contrary to the hate groups belief… Not many donors really care what they say. As a matter of fact this ridiculousness has garnered him even more donors. I have PM’s everyday asking for Steve’s paypal or donation information

  9. All I know is when I lived in Washington, they had their share of detractors. He was some dogs savior (and the people who loved them) and others hated what he was doing and thought it would be better for all the dogs who needed training to be killed (both PETA-ists and people who don’t want so-called “dangerous dogs”, which they may not even be in their backyard.)

    Reply
  10. ellarae

     /  August 12, 2013

    I support Steve and his efforts at Olympic Animal Sanctuary. Instead of making things more difficult for him, why not help support him both financially and physically? Send money for food, vet care, and to help with the purchase of a larger facility. Go there and help clean cages or whatever support you can give. Hold a fund raiser to help buy a used refrigerated trailer to store meat. Donate food for Steve. He works hard and misses a lot of good meals. He sleeps with the dogs for pete’s sake. Why vilify a good, well-intentioned person who is doing all he can to do right by animals that have endured great harm and suffering at the hands of others? How can you think you are helping by making his daunting tasks even more burdensome? He’s got the right ideas. If you don’t like what is going on there, then support him to make the situation better. What are the alternatives for the dogs in his care? If death is OK with you then keep on with your hateful rhetoric. In the end, you will be the ones who made it worse rather than better for the animals that you claim to be so concerned about.

    Reply
  11. Melonie

     /  August 27, 2013

    It’s sad that the ‘haters’ have distracted the public from what Steve needs, resources to continue to care for these dogs that people have written off. He does what other won’t, and that’s admirable. Hopefully this can be resolved and put to rest so that he can focus on the dogs and the future.

    Reply
  12. True Researcher

     /  September 11, 2013

    I am immediately distressed by some of the remarks from the owner. He seems to be hiding behind an inadequate legal system, claiming he is not breaking any laws. As we all know, animal rights laws actually do very little to protect our animals, so even if this is the case and he is not actually breaking any “laws”, it does not make what he is doing right either. I agree with the remarks requesting for more visibility. I volunteer with my local animal shelter, which takes in ALL animals, even those deemed dangerous. Not once have I feared for my life — first and foremost because I respect the shelter and the amazing staff, but also because every animal is in a kennel (or guarded within the play area confines). If it is run responsibly, there really should not be any danger for anyone visiting the facility and if all of these animals are in protected and safe kennels at the Sanctuary, what prevents the public from witnessing the facility firsthand? If he were truly innocent, I feel he would focus on the inaccuracy of the accusations, but more importantly on all of the wonderful things he is doing. Not once did he mention the help, compassion, rehabilitation, care, etc that he is providing for these animals. Instead, what I read from his remarks is that whatever care he is providing is just adequate enough so that he makes sure he is not breaking any laws. While he might have begun his work for noble reasons and had good intentions, it is often possible to get lost in the efforts. Maybe it means more staff or better facilities. If money/capital is an issue, maybe it means downsizing in order to appropriately care for the existing animals (placing “ready” dogs into new rescues, etc). Either way, these animals seem to deserve more than what they are getting at present.

    Steve Markwell, instead, please tell me more about your work. Tell me what you do for the animals in your care and how you help them. I have seen a lot of people “rescue” and care for animals without breaking any laws, but the conditions in which these animals live were despicable and I did not see any compassion or care. Abiding by the animal rights laws does not mean you are providing GOOD care. Seeing the pictures appearing on this Facebook page reference, I immediately want to fight against you. I immediately want to contact authorities and media personnel and PETA and the like. There is absolutely no way I would support your work or donate to this cause. However, instead of jumping to conclusions, I am doing research, but I am finding little evidence to the contrary, none to change my mind. If you claim these accusations to be false, if you claim to provide wonderful care to the animals, if the real situation is anywhere close to the pictures on your website, please “show” me. Please provide access to your facility so that you can advertise the true conditions and the appropriate care for your animals. Tell me where your donations go, who your staff is, how these dogs are cared for and maintained. Once you prove your work, you just might earn a new supporter or two…me as one.

    According to Judy Hall in her article Part 3: What Now for Olympic Animal Sanctuary’s “Unadoptable” Dogs?: “A sanctuary is in essence a place of peace…What is peace to a dog? Only a dog can know. But my belief is that it is very much like what is peace to a human: decent food, shelter, companionship, routine, exercise, stimulation, and rest. May that path to peace be placed beneath their feet.” I would be happy to help you through this difficult time, but please help me understand why I should?

    Reply
  13. Lori

     /  September 16, 2013

    I believe that photos of healthy dogs in better conditions than the awful photos circulating are imperative if you expect anyone to believe in you. Make those happen instead of just using words with no images of improvement in these animal’s lives from what we have all seen in the past. I’m sorry, but the only images I have seen are of deplorable, unhealthy conditions and until you SHOW me photos that prove otherwise, I will believe you are a less than desirable organization and not truly a rescue. If you are only concerned about the decrease in your donations, I believe you have lost your way.

    Reply

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