With suspects identified, will the injured Sioux sue?
FORT YATES, North Dakota––Who let the dogs out?
Confronting protesters near the Standing Rock Sioux reservation on September 3, 2016 with five to eight leashed but leaping, lunging, and biting dogs, who injured at least six people and a horse, the Dakota Access pipeline construction security guards handling the dogs avoided displaying identification or insignia.
Social media hounds pick up the scent
But eyewitnesses and viewers of video of the incident were soon on the trail anyway. Dozens, perhaps even hundreds of sympathizers with the protesters overnight traced the license numbers on the security guards’ vehicles and ran down other clues on social media.
The dog attacks “just go to show what kind of a company Energy [Transfer] Partners is,” charged Standing Rock Sioux chair David Archambault II to Amy Goodman of Democracy Now.
“They hire security companies with untrained handlers. And these handlers—the dogs were attacking the handlers. That’s why they released dogs into the crowd. And then they go and try to recover them.
“Who was handling these dogs?”
“First thing I did,” Archambault said, “was I asked the law enforcement, where did this company get these dogs? Was this something that law enforcement supplied? When I asked the question, they said, no, they had nothing to do with it. The company hired someone to get these dogs, and there was a lack of training on how to handle the dogs. They were using the dogs as deadly weapons. And that’s something that needs to be looked into. Who was handling these dogs, whose dogs were they, and why were they used?
“This was all premeditated,” Archambault alleged. “They knew something was going to happen when they [the Dakota Access pipeline builders] leapfrogged over 15 miles of undisturbed land to destroy our sacred sites. They knew that something was going to happen, so they were prepared. They hired a company that had guard dogs, and then they came in, and then they waited.”
Cell phone images of the dogs used by the Dakota Access security guards appeared to show at least one Malinois, a cane corso, a pit bull, a German shepherd, a boxer, and a Rottweiler. Eyewitnesses said eight dogs were used in all, but the most appearing in any one cell phone clip looked to be five.
One Native American protester at the scene held a harnessed pit bull, but that dog was kept well away from the others.
“Don’t appear to have an ‘off’ switch”
The security guards dogs’ were “vicious but not well trained,” Gavin Ehringer of Waggin’ Tail Dog Training in Denver, Colorado, told ANIMALS 24-7 after viewing the available cell phone footage. “Several, at least, don’t appear to have an ‘off’ switch. A correctly trained guard dog would not need to be pulled back,” Ehringer explained, “but simply be given a voice command to cease. And the level of aggression seems inappropriate for the threat, if you can call it that. The handlers seemed to be provoking the people.”
“Alligators on leashes”
Agreed Jonni Joyce, of Morton, South Dakota, introduced on video by Amy Goodman of Democracy Now as “an expert in law enforcement canine handling with more than 25 years of experience, “It appeared that the handlers were not trained properly in order to manage a dog who has been trained in some type of controlled aggression. What it looked like was a bunch of alligators at the end of leashes being put on the Native Americans there who were protesting. It absolutely was an egregious use of canines.
“What happened there at the protest, in my opinion,” Joyce said, “was an excessive use of force by civilians who obviously did not have proper training in the utilization of dogs that are trained to bite humans.”
“Your dog is biting protesters”
Said Goodman on camera, “We interviewed one person after another who were bitten by dogs. And as one of the security guards was holding a dog whose mouth and nose were dripping with blood, I said to her, ‘Your dog is biting protesters.’ She simply moved down the line, and the dog moved on to attack more of the Native Americans.”
Affirmed Joyce, “Yeah, in that particular part of the video, the female handler with the black dog moved away from you. And this is of particular concern to me. There were about six protesters who were, oh, approximately 15 feet in front of her, and without the protesters moving forward or making any aggressive act towards her, she pushed her dog into the crowd. And you can see on the video that the dog had enough sense not to go in the crowd. The dog actually backed up. And then she corrected the dog and pulled the dog into the crowd. And this is especially concerning, in reference to this application of the use of force, and it certainly provides evidence that these people were improperly trained.”
Bob Frost of Frost Kennels
Elaborated Joyce in a much more comprehensive statement published on her Facebook page, “Reports include that an elementary school age child was severely bitten and required hospitalization, and a pregnant female was bitten in the shoulder.
“Within 24 hours,” Joyce acknowledged, “social media investigators had identified Bob Frost of Frost Kennels in Ohio as the provider of the attack dogs and Ashley Welch from Ohio as the female handler of the black German Shepherd with a blood-soaked mouth.”
Frost appears to be associated with several dog-related businesses, including Frost Kennels of Louisville, Ohio; a grooming shop in Hartville, Ohio; and selling dog fencing.
Bob Frost on Frost Kennels’ own Facebook page offered a link to the opinion of online conservative commentator Rob Port––who was not at the scene––that the Dakota Access pipeline protesters threw rocks at the security guards, hit the dogs with sticks, and were “actively antagonizing the dogs,” though the available video shows some protesters engaging with the dogs only after the dogs were encouraged to lunge at them.
Several online investigators posted records pertaining to a Robert Alan Frost, a registered sex offender in Kansas, with addresses listed in Illinois and Texas.
In addition, a vehicle bearing a license plate number said to belong to convicted pedophile Edward William Frost, 27, of Uniontown, Ohio, was identified in posted video clips of the Standing Rock confrontation.
Responded Bob Frost of Frost Kennels, “FOR THE RECORD THE SEX OFFENDER YOU ARE ALL POSTING DOES NOT WORK HERE AND IS A RELATIVE RELATED TO THE OWNER THEREFORE WE SUGGEST DELETING ALL POSTS. He is not affiliated in any way with our company or family besides a last name.”
Bob Frost did not stipulate which sex offender he meant.
Ashley Nicole Welch
Ashley Nicole Welch, the more aggressive of two female dog handlers in the Standing Rock video, was identified as a “client of Frost,” posted Diana Heidemann of San Jose, California, “who has seven dogs from them, at least two in training.”
Welch is also a quarter horse trainer and barrel racer, who was age 19 as of August 2009, according to a Cleveland.com article about one of her horses.
Law enforcement history
ANIMALS 24-7 on September 7, 2016 received an anonymous tip that “Ashley Nicole Welch is a dispatcher for the Solon Police Department in Solon, OH. She finished up the Police Academy and is actively if not already has an offer to work for one of our police stations in the Ohio area.”
Available public records indicate that an Ashley Welch, whose photo indicates that she is the Ashley Nicole Welch photographed at Standing Rock on September 3, 2016, was a Solon police dispatcher from mid-2012 until at least mid-2015, and in April 2013 was honored for helping to save a life on November 11, 2012, acting in her capacity as dispatcher.
As of 6:00 p.m. PST, however, ANIMALS 24-7 had not yet found anything associating Ashley Nicole Welch with the Solon police following a mention in Solon Civil Service Commission records of a “Memo dated August 10, 2015 from Chief [Christopher] Viland to Dispatcher Ashley Welch regarding Departmental Charges.”
Ashley Nicole Welch in May 2014, meanwhile, was sworn in as a Deputy Clerk of Court in Walton Hills, Ohio.
Others named Ashley Nicole Welch
Several other women of similar age have accessible legal history and have been mentioned online, apparently erroneously, as being possibly the Ashley Nicole Welch who was at the Standing Rock protest:
- An Ashley Nicole Welch, 19, was charged with identify theft in June 2009 in Rockingham, North Carolina.
- A 29-year-old Ashley Nicole Welch was on August 12, 2016 sentenced to serve nine to 18 months in county jail in Tunkhannock, Pennsylvania, was fined $500, was ordered to pay $125 restitution, and was put on probation for 12 months, after being convicted of possession of illegal substances with intent to deliver and possession of drug paraphernalia.
- In Marion, Ohio, on August 16, 2016, an Ashley Nicole Welch, 30, pleaded no contest to endangering children and was sentenced to serve 180 days jail, with 170 days suspended, and was fined $400, with $250 suspended.
“Not found in public data base”
“Assuming that Frost and Welch were involved and correctly identified,” said Joyce, “the state of Ohio requires that anyone furnishing for hire guard dogs in connection with the protection of persons or property be licensed through the state and that failure to do so is a misdemeanor crime for first offense and a felony for any subsequent offenses.
“The names Bob Frost, Frost Kennels, and Ashley Welch are not found in the public data base of those licensed in Ohio to furnish for hire guard dogs in connection with the protection of persons or property,” Joyce wrote.
“In order to travel to North Dakota to provide those services, said guard dogs would have to have been trained in Ohio, and the agreement for services as well as payment be processed in Ohio. This gives the state of Ohio jurisdiction in determining if Frost Kennels, Bob Frost, or Ashley Welch violated the law. A complaint will be filed with the Ohio Department of Public Safety alleging a violation of Ohio Revised Code, Chapter 4749,” Joyce promised.
Chay Wilkerson Moore
“I am also a K9 handler of 23 years,” posted Spokane dog trainer Chay Wilkerson Moore. “What [Ashley Welch] did was completely wrong. K9 dogs are trained to bite people who are a threat, or are running toward or away from you, people with weapons, such as sticks or bats. The dogs [deployed at the Standing Rock protest] were very confused because no one was moving. They were forced to bite by their handlers, going against all the formal training that the dog understood.”
Moore said he was en route to the Standing Rock reservation to offer his services to the Sioux if dogs were used against them again.
Judge denies Sioux a TRO
In Washington D.C., U.S. District Judge James Boasberg on September 6, 2016 denied the Standing Rock Sioux’s request for an emergency temporary restraining order against work on the Dakota Access pipeline, pending his decision due on September 9, 2016 as to whether the pipeline builders were properly permitted to proceed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers.
Boasberg did temporarily suspend work between North Dakota State Highway 1806 and a point 20 miles east of Lake Oahe, but work near the Standing Rock reservation may proceed.
Lawyer claimed crews were attacked
“Dakota Access attorney Bill Leone said during Tuesday’s hearing that if it weren’t for the stoppages, the section in question would be finished by the end of this week,” wrote Padmanda Rama of Associated Press.
“Leone also said in court that there were two more attacks on crews in North Dakota,” after the September 3, 2016 incident. “Morton County Sheriff Kyle Kirchmeier said law enforcement officers pulled back from responding to a report of 150-200 protesters gathered at a construction area on private land,” Rama continued, “because they determined it wasn’t safe to respond. He said some protesters had hatchets and knives, and two secured themselves to heavy equipment. No pipeline workers were at the site, and no arrests have been made.”
As with Kirchmeir’s statements about the September 3, 2016 confrontation, it was unclear how he had any idea what actually went on if neither law enforcement officers nor pipeline workers were present.
Since protesters against the Dakota Access pipeline have been camped out near the route for weeks, pitching tents and cooking shared meals, their possession of hatchets and knives would not be remarkable.
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