Lawsuit filed against dog shelter dubbed ‘Sanctuary of Sorrow’

Nov 23, 2013 by

Olympic Animal Sanctuary – HELL for Dogs

Paws for the News was contacted by Elizabeth Schiltz from OAS – life inside the sanctuary – Facebook who wanted us to help spread the word about this story, it’s about a Dog Shelter in Fork’s Washington, U.S.A.

Please visit her facebook page here:

Elizabeth has currently obtained more than 7,000 supporters. If you want further information or want to support her, please go to her page.

Here’s the story:

Pressure continues to build on a controversial dog shelter in Forks that’s accused of severely mistreating its animals. You can visit the earlier story here.

A lawsuit has now been filed against the man who runs the Olympic Animal Sanctuary, accusing him of “failing to provide adequate and humane care” for a dog named Leroy and refusing to give back the dog placed there temporarily.

“He was a big untrained goof ball,” Heather Enajibi, head of the Animal Aid and Rescue Foundation in Seattle, said of her dog Leroy. “He’d jump up on you and hug you. He just loved people. He wanted to be touched. He wanted to be hugged.”

Enajibi says even though Leroy loved people, he wasn’t nice to other dogs.

“And so we placed Leroy there in a foster situation,” she said. “It was supposed to be a safe, loving environment.”

The Olympic Animal Sanctuary takes dangerous dogs that might otherwise be euthanized. It’s run by Steve Markwell, who lets almost no one inside to chronicle conditions. However, Leroy is inside, according to the lawsuit, with 120 other dogs or more — so many, you can hear them from the outside.

A Forks police report describes dogs without full access to water or enough room to turn around, fed once a week or so, rarely exercised, with an overwhelming stench.

Photos provided by former volunteers at OAS purport to show Leroy inside with his ribs more protruding than previous photos, his caged area is full of what appears to be feces, a bowl of dirty water, and a wooden wall appears heavily clawed or chewed. The photos made Enajibi demand that the dog be returned to her.

“I cried. I absolutely cried,” she said when she saw the photos of Leroy in there. “That’s not a sanctuary. A sanctuary in my mind is the highest quality of care.”

Markwell, according to the lawsuit, refused to give back Leroy, even though Markwell himself has written he’s got too many dogs to handle properly.

When we chatted briefly with Markwell in August outside his rundown warehouse, we asked if the shelter is operating how he envisioned it.

“It’s a start,” he said.

His attorney and the city have previously said he’s violated no laws.

People from outside Forks protested there last week over that city’s refusal to take legal action against the dog shelter. Many have said they’ve tried for a long time to help Markwell but now believe he’s beyond help.

And Leroy, Enijibi says, needs to come home.

“He was so sweet. And it breaks my heart. It breaks my heart. And I want him back,” she said.

We reached out to Markwell and his attorney. They had not responded by Thursday evening.

You can watch the video news report from Komo4 News:




  1. Elizabeth

    Thank you, Paws for the News for publishing this! Well done!

    • Carl

      Thank you for your comment, it’s important as many people are aware of this unfortunate situation as possible.
      WE hope that as many people can be involved, by bring food and better shelter for these dogs.
      If you hear of anymore news on this shelter please contact us.
      Paws for the News
      News Team

  2. carolyn

    While it is so true the OAS so called Sanctuary for Animals is unfit to house any animals, some of the protestors are even protesting people supplying food for the dogs???this is difficult to understand…it seems that the owner of this sanctuary at one time had good intentions, he took on too much and needs to step back, relinquish the dogs to reputable rescues, have them evaluated and go from there.
    The number one priority here is to take care of the dogs, give them the best care that they deserve…this is not being done at this Sanctuary.
    I find it difficult to believe that anyone that truly loves their dog would have taken him there…it seems there were no constant follow up visits, etc…maybe a phone call???If you leave a pet to be trained then you visit the pet weekly or daily and set a cut off time for him to be returned; this should be stated in a contract…
    Yes, the rescues that left animals with this sanctuary???should feel shame, but now they should speak up and join in the lawsuit to get these animals released from this place.
    The answer is to quit screaming, cursing, threatening, while still protesting the unethical treatment of these dogs.
    The people against this facility are going to protest in early December in Forks, Washington, as they should…but they should also bring food to the city for the dogs…THIS is the RIGHT thing to do, this does not mean that the owner of this facility is not committing a crime under the Washington State’s Humane Treatment of Animals, because it does appear he is..
    Sometimes people lose focus when they get involved….don’t lose focus…it is the dogs that are suffering….

    • Carl

      Thank you for sharing your comments on our site Paws for the News.
      It’s important, we all communicate and when there is something wrong, or tragedy before us, we need to know how to move forward together, as a collective to make the situation better.

      You’ve raised some very important points that I never even thought of, how we could better this situation.

      We wish and hope that all the protestors do bring food and supplies that sounds like are much needed to better the situation for these animals while we all wait to see how judgement will be passed according to the animal laws of the land.

      It sounds like to us at Paws for the News, this writer is very involved in this situation. I hope your message becomes spread far and wide and everyone dig deep to see how they can provided food and better shelter for these animals. Calling all contractors as well, who maybe can assist with reconstructing some of the shelter so that the pets will stay warm as we move closer to the colder months.

      Please feel free to continue to keep us up to date, we will look for more messages, and we will post everything we can relating to this unfortunate situation for those animals at the Shelter.

      Paws for the News – News Team

    • Petey

      I have a problem with anyone giving Markwell or OAS anything—because that means he has more cash in his pocket he can keep—-instead of using it to buy food!

      Markwell screams and cries about donations going down—well well well. Over $110,000 in 2009, over $115,000 in 2010, and over $150,000 in 2011.

      Declining? Really?

      And he cannot feed the dogs? In addition, all the cash—yes, 3-5,000 for EACH dog he takes in…..some for much much more.

      Giving food does not relieve the stress of dogs kept 24/7 in crates that may not have been cleaned in weeks……Giving food does not mean they will get out for exercise…..Giving food does not mean they are being socialized with other dogs…..Giving food only means Markwell does not have to purchase it—-and he can spend it as he wishes.

      For example, eating all his meals out. That is a huge expense.

      I, for one, am hoping all the rescues who sent will ask for the return of their animals. If not, there is rescue for every one…..Markwell is the one holding out—-he refuses to release them.

      If they do not get fed, it is Markwell’s fault—not the people trying to shut that garbage hole down. He only has to open his doors.

      • Carl

        Thank you for your comment. Wow, and I guess OMG! I’m so sad to hear, and we at Paws for the News don’t know how to help?
        It sounds like this has really been an ongoing problem. WE aren’t completely familiar with this story until recently. We are shocked you don’t have the SPCA Investigators removing those dogs?
        Here in Canada that is what would occur. I’ve seen some of the pictures and notes made on OAS Facebook page and for anyone looking for it it’s here at:
        We really do need more information, and please tell us how we can help?
        Your friends,
        Paws for the News Team

      • donyega

        oh Petey, come on! Not spewing false information again are you?

        • Carl

          Hmmm, there seems to be a bit of a cat fight on this issue. WE do want to hear from both sides, and we sincerely appreciate everyone’s comments. As Paws for the News has mentioned in an earlier reply we do want to understand what is happening at this Olympic Animal Sanctuary. WE at Paws for the News want to hear from both sides, so please keep the comments coming by both sides and please send us pictures with as much information as possible. We at Paws for the News stand neutral, and is a forum for both sides to share their comments.
          Paws for the News – News Team

      • donyega

        Petey, OAS has really changed since you failed to provide the quality care to the animals that they deserve. Steve Markwell has has many ongoing improvements, and is currently doing so. The dogs are being fed and have great new kennels, check it out, things are looking up!

        • Carl

          Paws for the News is requesting pictures and anything else you can share.
          Paws for the News – News Team

          • Elizabeth Schiltz

            Paws for the News,
            Yes, Markwell is frantically cleaning up again. Yes, food has been donated. This happened before. Markwell did a massive cleanup in the spring for the Bainbridge Article.
            Yes, some old kennels were taken out of storage and used again at the insistence of Markwell’s Advisory Board—who quit soon after because they could not work with him. Hurray, a few more dogs are out of crates and in to small kennels with no outside access now that he purchased a couple more.

            It is our fear that given a few weeks, a month or two, the excitement will die down and things will revert to the horrific conditions.

            Food for a week or two, in our minds, does not solve the other problems at OAS.
            There is no way that one person can walk 150 dogs. Think of the logistics!
            Food does not vet the animals.
            Food does not socialize the animals.
            Food does not exercise the animals.
            Those poor dogs are living in an old run down warehouse with no windows — which means no light unless Markwell turns the lights on for them.
            Those dogs are living in an old run down warehouse with NO HEAT, and it is winter.

            So, yes, it is wonderful that the dogs had a couple of meals. That is ALL that 700 or 800 pounds of food means.

            OAS supporters need to stop blaming everyone else if the animals do not eat. Markwell is responsible for feeding them, and if he cannot, then he needs to shut down.

            Again, winter is here. The dogs are cold. This is a sanctuary?

          • Carl

            Hi Elizabeth,
            I’m wondering if Paws for the News can do more?
            I’m wondering if any of the people who have placed both sides of comments be interested in Paws for the News to contact Markwell and the Sanctuary. I think it’s important people are allowed inside now to determine exactly what is going on.
            Also, allow followup tours or inspections.
            I can call or email there, I can also see if Paws for the News can somehow mediate this situation between both sides.
            Paws for the News – News Team

        • Deborah

          Donega, get it straight…Markwell has always had complete control of OAS. He calls the shots. He has control of the financials, the care and food and straw supply for these dogs. Volunteers have never had the abilty to feed them and care for them without Markwell being there. He has gone so far as to demand they feed those dogs rotten turkey necks and meat. Markwell is the one responsible (along with Diane Hawkins, Jason Ross and Matthew Randazzo, since they are on the board of OAS through 2012) so get your facts straight before you try to place blame on volunteers. Ask yourself why this place has been bad for 6 years since he has run this place and kept taking in more dogs knowing full well HE couldn’t care for them.

        • Petey

          A couple of new kennels, when he took in over $150,000 in his last reported tax year 2011?
          Yes, I am happy a couple of the dogs who were crated are now in larger areas. Are any still crated?

          Enough food for a couple days was donated….who is going to make sure the dogs continue to eat? You?

          Still no access to the outside.
          Am I being critical? YOU BET!

          This man is advertising a wonderful place to send dogs for the REST OF THEIR LIVES! Would you send a dog there?

          He charges THOUSANDS for each dog.

          Thank goodness for the calling attention to this!
          If those wonderful people did not call attention to this, the poor dogs would still be hungry and living in filth.

          Doesn’t it mean anything to you that Markwell WAITED UNTIL PUBLIC PRESSURE forced him to improve the state of the animals there?

          What it means to me is that every good thing done now will slide downhill the minute the pressure is gone.

          Markwell thought he had a way to make tax-free dollars. Guess what? The game is up.

          I, for one, will never give up. Ever. Until those animals are safe with a reputable rescue.

          All you have done is delay that—the animals could have been safe for the New Year….thanks. When your help is gone, those animals will suffer. Thanks.

  3. Melissa Snell

    Sort of a Catch-22…you want to help the dogs that are living in inhumane, filthy conditions so you donate food, but then when you do, it just prolongs the shutting down of this disgusting and cruel “sanctuary”. Some of the dogs arrived as puppies and have GROWN UP in the same crate they arrived in. Many have died. Many have serious skin conditions due to living in filth and an unbalanced diet of unrefrigerated raw butchers scraps. They are not vaccinated. There is no heat. People have donated hundreds of thousands of dollars, yet nothing changes. Please break the cycle, and share this story around the world. The Forks city admin will do NOTHING. There are legitimate reduces standing by to take these dogs. Put PRESSURE on Government officials to DO THEIR JOBS. If you want to be educated about what goes on there, and the lack of cooperation and sincerity of Markwell, go to OAS – Life Inside the Sanctuary Facebook page. Warning – graphic pictures.

    • Carl

      YIKES! Paws for the NEWS is not as familiar with this story as we are up in Canada. This sounds disastrous. We are lost for words after reading your comment. WE do encourage everyone to go to the OAS Facebook page. Here it is:
      They have a lot of information about what is going on over there. I wish I could make some suggestions, but now I’m tongue tied, and dont know what to say?
      Thank you for your comment and please keep all of us posted over here at Paws for the News in Canada. Whatever we can do to help, we would sincerely love to do it.
      Paws for the News Team

      • donyega

        Paws, please do some more research first about this place. This incorrect info is being spread around by a group trying to shut OAS down for personal reasons, THIS IS ABOUT THE DOGS

        • Carl

          At Paws for the News blog, we’ve posted the information given to us. WE appreciate everyone’s comments on this issue, and look forward to all comments on both sides to better understand this situation and to also share with our viewers. Please send us as much information to post along updated pictures please.
          Paws for the News – News Team

        • Dana


          How can one do research about the place when Markwell won’t let anyone inside? Are we just supposed to take his word for it that the dogs are well taken care of?

          • Carl

            It is important that the public is let inside now to see how the improvements to the facility have changed. It’s very important to set the record straight about what is happening there.

        • Deborah

          Donyega, Look up the taxes for OAS for the last 5 years, look at what he has been asking his donors for by email. look at his fundraisers for the New Building, Look up the laws of the state of Washington, and charity laws. It iss illegal for someone to use donations for personal use if they do not claim them as compensation, Who feeds Markwell? Who gives the guy toilet papeer ? Whaat does he drive? (We know this one… he drives the truck that iss listed on the OAS taxes which is NOT to be driven for personaal use unless he claims it andd there is no indication on his taxes that he does. Learn the Laws of WA State and then come on back and comment. This is a scam all of you. See him getting larger with each photo posted over the last year, yep that is your donationss haard at work to feed HIM not the dogs.

        • Petey

          Really? About the dogs? When Markwell refuses help from rescues trying to pull dogs out of there? When rescues have to SUE to get their dogs?
          How do you explain that?
          He cannot adequately care for the animals at OAS, but refuses to let any go.

          • LMM

            Pati – you using those boys names again trying to hide? You’re so silly.

  4. Sara

    If the information in this article was ever true, it is outdated. I saw photos of many of the dogs taken today and they look to be in good health. I have also seen comments from a person who works in the local vets office saying the dogs are vaccinated and see the vet regularly. I think perhaps more research should be done before people post such accusations.

    • Carl

      This is why Paws for the News is here is to share both sides so we can better understand what is happening in the U.S. We are located in Canada and have been contacted about this issue. We are relying on everyone to share and give as much information as possible so the full understanding and truth behind the matter can be broadcasted.
      Paws for the News – News Team

    • Carl

      Paws for the News has also received in a direct email to us with these comments. WE are here to share both sides and we encourage both sides to please leave their comments so that everyone hears and understands both sides.
      We stand neutral on this issue, we are just here as a public forum for both sides to explain what the heck is happening down there. Here is the direct email that was sent to us, rather than replying in the comments section. WE felt it was only fair to share this note as well.

      From a person who has not given us permission to broadcast their name or email address, so we are keeping it confidential until doing so.

      “The pictures provided by OAS-Inside the Sanctuary were years old and caused by a disgruntled employee who was let go for behavioral issues. The pictures were taken right in the middle of the recession when volunteers and donations were few and far between.

      Please see the facebook page WeStandWithOlympicAnimalRescue for current pictures.

      There was also a huge dog food drive where over 1/2 a ton of dog food was collected! These are things they don\’t want people to know because it is making them look bad that they are fighting so hard to shut this place down, and conditions and circumstances have much improved.

      Please be well informed before posting. I\’m sure your heart was in the right place.”

      This feedback direct email was edited slightly removing comments that Paws for the News did not consider to be a part of this story and we need to remain neutral and accept all comments at face value.
      We invite all sides to share, we are just a public forum that offer both sides to state as much about the facts as possible.

      Thank you very much for your comment.

      Paws for the News – News Team

      • Petey

        Over 200 police pictures, November 2012.
        Bainbridge article pics—dogs in filthy crates—April 2013
        Then, a lockdown and no one allowed inside. OOPS….one couple was allowed outside and made a video—I forget when that was exactly….around the same time.

        Markwell blames everyone but himself. It is his sanctuary–his responsibility.
        There are pics of the dogs who arrived to Warwick, NY….versus the pictures of them leaving to go to OAS….sickening what happened to those dogs in Markwell’s care.

        When the FBook page appeared, all Markwell had to do was open his doors. Instead, he hired an attorney and hid behind him—popping out to blame the volunteer, the police officer who took the pictures and wrote the report, and the economy (?????—for someone taking in more and more each year, how is that possible?)

        His advisory board came in and gave him money—thousands—to clean. They left for a number of reasons….one of which was mismanagement of funds.

        I will ask Dawn to post her pictures of one of the dogs….if not all of them….when they arrived from their vacation in HE## in Forks, WA.

    • Dana

      Sara, you tell people to do more research but how when Markwell won’t let anyone in or provide photos of dogs in good health and all these improvements you speak of.

    • Deborah

      rgin of Markwell stopped with Monohon. It ddid not stop because there was nothing wrong.

  5. Dawn

    Im very happy that the dogs have food. Let me start with saying that. That being said I have some questions for Steve Markwell himself. Why did it take the eyes of the world being on you for you to accept help? Why have you turned down help in the past? Why, if you were in such dire financial straits, did you travel all over the country and the world? Why did you take more dogs in in feb of 2012 if you were already overcrowded? Why did you let them stay out in the horse trailer in the same crates you put them in when you picked them up FOR MONTHS? Bear was healthy and robust when you picked him up. Young also. How did he die at your facility? Id like to see the vet records. Why did you let Buddy suffer with pus dripping out of his ears for months? You couldn’t tell he couldn’t walk straight because he never came out of the crate but Im sure you had to hear him yelp in pain whenever he shook his head. Which was constantly. Did he ever see a vet? Did you even notice his suffering? Did you even notice Cream and Murdock wasting away to nothing? When you fed them every now and again didn’t you see how skinny they had become? Please answer these questions. Now that the world is watching I would really like to know.

  6. LMM

    A simple bit of research, online, of some of the names of the primary accusers will turn up some interesting reading material for you. Officer J Goode and her past with previous public service jobs she has held. Google search of Heather Enajibi immediately discredits her, once you read about Animals First Foundation and Carina Sunga Borja.

    • Petey

      please also google Brandia Taamu—(sorry, spelling may be Tamu?). Please. The person who started the support page for OAS.
      After you are done reading all that, please try remember this is about the dogs.
      Stop all the pointing and name-calling.

  7. By now I am pretty sure that you have heard that the dogs were taken by semi in a trailer by Steve Markwell to Arizona and got to RUFFF rescue on Christmas Eve night, Dec. 24th, 2013. Most of the dogs were in really bad health and if they hadn’t been taken to the rescue they surely would have died. Guardians of Rescue was kind enough to take on all of the dogs and now are now at The OASIS Sanctuary. Of 124 dogs there are about 49 left that need rescue. Almost all of the dogs are friendly and not aggressive dispite what Markwell stated. There are plenty of pictures at the Oasis Dogs site and at the Guardians of Rescue site on Facebook. One dog Buddy or Bubba, is still staying with a vet in Arizona along with three other dogs due to him having non-stop seizures and having awful pressure sores so deep that he almost died. There were also a lot of dogs that were very emaciated. Be sure to check those pages out as they are the main source for what is happening with the dogs. As a side note: After Mr. Markwell dropped the dogs off and was there for a few days to help sort out which dogs were which, his mother came from California and picked him up and no one has seen either of them since. Mr. Markwell does have a warrant out for his arrest for assaulting a protesters car in Forks in Dec. The vet in Arizona has made his findings about the dogs public. I think that animal abuse charges will be forthcoming now. If not, they should be. Those poor dogs lived a nightmare. Many have died at Markwells hands over the years. Now he needs to be held accountable so he can never do this again. Thank you.

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