GOLDEN VALLEY, Ariz. -- Up to 124 dogs are now safe after being rescued in Washington state and brought to Arizona.
The owner of the dogs, Steve Markwell, had operated a controversial animal shelter outside the Seattle area. But when protesters lashed out against the facility, accusing Markwell of neglect, he loaded the dogs into a tractor-trailer and fled the area, apparently with no clear destination in mind.
That's when a national animal rescue group stepped in to help. The group Guardians of Rescue immediately went to work trying to find a safe, new shelter for the dogs. The goal was to find a place that was big enough for all the dogs, and to find that place in a warm climate.
“We’d been in contact with Markwell since November and in discussions about removing the dogs from the shelter,” affirms Robert Misseri, founder and president of Guardians of Rescue. “We had no idea that he was going to pack up and move the dogs, but when we heard, we immediately took action for the benefit of the dogs.”
Soon, the group found Rescue Unwanted Furry Friends Foundation or R.U.F.F.F. The organization operates a licensed animal sanctuary in Golden Valley, which is near Kingman, Ariz.
When crews learned about the dogs headed their way, they scrambled to build outdoor, fenced kennels to accommodate the dogs. Veterinarians were also standing by to treat the animals.
The dogs arrived in Golden Valley on Christmas Eve.
"Their spirits are exceptional," said Hillarie Allison of R.U.F.F.F. "They are so thrilled to be out of that truck and in the sunshine. We've built pens and runs and kennels, and they're in the sunshine and fresh air with plenty of fresh food and water."
R.U.F.F.F. hopes to have all the dogs evaluated for vet care by this weekend, but they still need donations to feed and care for all the furry friends until they can be adopted out.
“Unfortunately, the R.U.F.F.F. can't keep these dogs forever," Misseri said. "We are going to ensure that the dogs are not euthanized, but find rescue groups or alternative shelters.”
If you'd like to help out, you can visit the shelter's website, rufffhouse.org.
Guardians of Rescue provides food, veterinary care, and shelter to animals in need. To learn more about or donate to the organization, visit www.guardiansofrescue.org.