- The Washington Times - Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Along with tons of garbage left behind at the Dakota Access protest camp, at least eight dogs have been discovered since protesters departed last week under a federal evacuation order.

The canines — two adults and six puppies — were picked up by volunteers with Furry Friends Rockin’ Rescue after the last of the protesters exited the Oceti Sakowin camp, allowing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to join the massive cleanup effort.

“Yesterday a group of volunteers headed down to the DAPL campsite and surrounding area and brought back some of the animals,” said the Bismarck rescue Saturday on its Facebook page. “They received immediate vet care, were given a bath and love, and will now remain in quarantine until we know they are healthy enough to be with other animals.”

Julie Schirado of Furry Friends said the rescue effort has been made more difficult by conditions at the muddy, debris-strewn camp.

A Florida-based sanitation company, hired by the corps on a $1 million contract, has moved in with dump trucks, loaders and other equipment to clear the encampment located on a federal floodplain before the snowmelt washes the trash into the Cannonball River.

“It’s a mess down there, so it’s really, really hard to find these animals and get them,” Ms. Shirado told KFYR-TV in Bismarck.

The protesters have come under criticism for abandoning the animals, but several commenters on the rescue’s Facebook page said that the dogs could have been strays that wandered into the camp on their own during the protest.

Rescue workers have asked anyone who believes they own the dogs to contact the facility. Photos of the dogs are posted on the Furry Friends Facebook page.

“Please consider donating to help with the care of these animals. There will be many more where they came from,” said the post.

Volunteers with the rescue plan to return to find more dogs. Some of those picked up already have been treated for frostbitten ears, patchy fur and mange.

“We have a couple cases of mange, we might have had some, I know we’ve had some problems with claws that haven’t been clipped before,” the rescue’s Tiffany Hardy told KFYR-TV.

Thousands of protesters descended last year on the area near Cannon Ball, North Dakota, in a show of opposition against the $3.8 billion, four-state oil pipeline, which is expected to be finished within weeks.

The last of the activists exited the large Oceti Sakowin camp Thursday, although some have moved to camps on private land, including one on property nearby being leased by the Cheyenne River Sioux.

• Valerie Richardson can be reached at vrichardson@washingtontimes.com.

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