Native American group Standing Rock Sioux are protesting the construction of a new oil pipeline intended to cross their land. Not only does the planned construction intrude on their property, but the group fear an oil leak would destroy the land's fresh drinking water. During the Stand Rock Sioux's protests, many of the group's horses have become injured. Veterinarian Charmian Wright could not stand to hear the reports of the group's horse being harmed, so the veterinarian packed up and drove 900 miles to help.
Speaking to the Huffington Post the veterinarian with over 30 years of experience outlined just why she made the trip from Utah to help out. “I am passionate about the issues that are being addressed at Standing Rock,” Wright said. “But when I saw videos of horses being injured, I knew I had to go there.”
Wright manages an equine practice in Park City, Utah. After posting to the protesters' Facebook page and receiving a call from a horse caretaker, she decided it was time to go and help. Wright began preparing for the trip in early November. The drive to Cannonball, North Dakota would take her just over 13 hours one way.
The veterinarian was able to treat some of the animals for injury once she arrived. Being the only professional veterinarian present, Wright took the time to demonstrate emergency care techniques to horse owners and riders.
“I taught them how to do an in-depth physical exam, including the use of a stethoscope, how to assess for lameness, how to body-score for weight, and how to examine teeth,” she said. “We discussed how to assess different types of injuries and how they are treated. I showed them the uses of different medications, such as antibiotics for infection and anti-inflammatories for pain and colic.”
Some reports have indicated law enforcement's heavy handed tactics have killed horses. However, Wright said she did not anything that confirmed the reports in her camp. However, others have reported law enforcement have used items such as concussion grenades to disperse protesters. One 21-year-old woman required hours of surgery following a concussion grenade striking her, according to reports.
“The horses on site are very important for morale and for healing of the humans,” Wright wrote on a GoFundMe page to raise money for veterinary supplies. She returned to her home in Park City in the middle of November, but her knowledge and expertise was greatly valued by the protesters she worked with. She has continued her GoFundMe account as she attempts to raise more money for veterinary supplies in Cannonball. The group has already raised over $16,000 and is nearly to the $18,500 goal.
In a Huffington Post article, Wright stressed she is no hero. She did shine the light on the brave protesters who are standing up for their rights as American citizens. “I just think everybody needs to help and this was the best way that I could,” Wright said.