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Luna’s Happily Ever After

Back in 2013, the Olympic Animal Sanctuary located in the rural town of Forks, Washington was at the forefront of many animal advocates’ minds–and not for the right reasons. Multiple accusations made by volunteers and the general public of deplorable living conditions and inhumane treatment prompted the Forks Police department to investigate.

The resulting lack of action–an animal cruelty citation written but never issued despite the investigating police officer’s scathing report, founder Steve Markwell’s being allowed to keep the facility open even while $300,000 in donations went unaccounted for–led many protesters to take matters into their own hands.

Picketing of the sanctuary’s property was only the first step in a long and hard battle fought by organizations far and wide. It looked as though progress was being made when Markwell announced he would close the sanctuary–looked being the operative word.

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Within days he’d loaded up the dogs in a semi-truck, crated and stacked three high with limited food and water, and escaped into the night, leaving no indication of where he was going or what he planned to do with the dogs. Emotions ran high through the rescue and shelter community as Guardians of Rescue, an east coast organization that had offered help to Markwell early on, waited for word.

Finally, on Christmas Eve, 2013, an agreement was reached and some 124 tired, hungry, and scared dogs arrived at an undisclosed location along the Arizona-Nevada border. Rescue Unwanted Furry Friends (RUFF) worked with Guardians of Rescue to settle the dogs into a temporary shelter and the call went out for help.

In the following months, all 124 dogs found spots with rescues and shelters across the country and Markwell was convicted and served jail time for an incident indirectly related to the sanctuary. End of story? Not even close. We’re just getting to the good part.

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Meet Luna, a pit bull who’d been surrendered in 2008 to a shelter when her owners moved. A kind woman there knew the chances of a pit bull being adopted were slim, so she sought out alternatives for the goofy, fun pup who was inching closer and closer to euthanasia with each passing day.

Markwell agreed to take Luna and give her a warm, safe place to live out her days at the sanctuary. Fast forward to 2013. News of the sanctuary, now known as the “Sanctuary of Sorrow” broke, and the woman who’d tried her best to help Luna feared the worst.

Thankfully, Luna was one of the dogs who’d made it to the Arizona-Nevada border–underweight, neglected, and terrified, but alive. The Academy of Canine Behavior in Washington state graciously agreed to take Luna on and she made her way back to the Northwest with hope in her heart and the love of all who’d taken part in the rescue operation.

After thorough training and endless hours of well-deserved love and attention, Luna found her forever home with an adoring couple in Seattle. Now that’s what we call a happily ever after. It may have taken far too long for Luna’s, but in some small way, that makes her story even sweeter. Enjoy watching her frolic with toys on her adoption day!

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Lydia Lee lives in Seattle with two sweet, if slightly out of control, dogs. She loves reading, food, and the opportunity to make a difference.