The Dakota Access Pipeline protesters left more behind than just piles of trash when they were booted from their makeshift camp: they left several dogs and puppies to fend for themselves, abandoned with the rest of their unwanted belongings.
Furry Friends Rockin Rescue, a local animal rescue near Bismark, North Dakota, says they’re working to catch all of the abandoned animals, and so far, they’ve managed to rescue two dogs and six puppies. They believe, however, that the dogs represent only a small fraction of the pets left behind at the camp.
“It’s a mess down there, so it’s really, really hard to find these animals and get them,” Julie Schirado, a rescuer with Furry Friends, told local media.
Schirado noted that, because authorities are using heavy machinery to clear piles of garbage from the dry creek bed campsite, scared animals are probably hiding out. The rescue workers say they’re going back on weekends, when the bulldozers are silent, to search.
The Oceti Sakowin protest camp has been vacant about a week, after authorities evicted several hundred activists who had been living there to protest the Dakota Access Pipeline. The Standing Rock Sioux Tribe also asked protesters to leave after realizing that they would be able to better negotiate with the Army Corps of Engineers over the pipeline’s placement, without an ongoing civil demonstration.
Since the protesters’ departure, authorities have been racing to clear the site of thousands of pounds of garbage and items left behind before the campsite fills with water, and runoff from the garbage leaks into the tribe’s water supply, and causes major environmental damage. It’s now clear, though, that some of that debris includes pets.
Many of the dogs, Furry Friends say, have health issues, from cases of mange to ingrown toenails, to signs of hypothermia and frostbite from being kept at the camp during the frigid North Dakota winter.
Thankfully, for the left-behind pets, Furry Friends says they’ll do their best to rehome (or reunite) lost animals. “Extremely sad—being these guys were left behind. But we offer, Furry Friends offers hope. I mean, there’s so much hope within Furry Friends as far as these puppies finding homes,” said Tiffany Hardy, avolunteer with the organization.