Natural disasters bring havoc to lands and property, and everyone in the community is affected.
They smash homes and wreck livelihoods. The devastation that they can bring is unimaginable and the amount of damage they leave behind is immeasurable.
They force newly-homeless families to move which, most of the time, comes with a huge sacrifice; leaving their animals behind.
Keith Benning is an animal lover that knows this type of story all too well.
Keith is the founder and shelter manager of the Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue (TMAR) located in Rolla, North Dakota. He is also a Deputy Sheriff and Municipal Judge in the county.
He started the non-profit way back in 2015 and since then, they have already rescued thousands of animals.
Keith is a hero he never thought he would be to these animals, but that’s not quite how he puts it.
According to him, saving animals is no act of heroism. It’s our responsibility.
“I’m not a hero. We domesticated animals as species and we’ve got a responsibility to them. I’m just doing my part,” he said in a YouTube video by The Dodo.
Keith and his team rescue animals who are stranded in the middle of a natural disaster’s aftermath.
Most of the animals are trapped in deserted homes in the middle of the flood. These poor animals get left behind by their families.
Sometimes it’s because their families don’t have the means to bring them and, tragically, sometimes it’s because they feel their pets just aren’t worth saving.
Here is where Keith and his team step in.
They go to the affected areas and search for any stranded animals. Then, they will rescue these helpless pets by taking them into their shelter. From there, they will re-evaluate them and do medical assessments.
Once their wounds get treated and they are free from any illness, they will try to search for their owners in the hope of reuniting them. Otherwise, they place them in adoption programs to find them their forever homes.
To Keith, there’s nothing more fulfilling than being able to rescue animals and reunite them with their families. He’s happy to play a small part in saving them.
Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue operates out of a 40′ x 60′ metal building. Keith and his team live in the same building.
One-third of the building is a house while the other two-thirds is a shelter.
According to him, they struggled during the first two years. It was hard just to keep things going for the entire animal rescue team. Even still, they managed to bring in approximately 20 to 30 rescue animals per month.
Now, however, they are taking in about 60 to 100 rescue animals a month.
Over the last 5 years, they have rescued somewhere between 4,000 to 5,000 animals.
TMAR is a 501 C3 non-profit since 2015 and their goal is to:
“Offer resources for the surrounding communities such as low cost spay and neuter, vaccination clinics and a place to care for homeless animals in addition to providing jobs within the shelter. Youth involvement programs, where kids can participate in the rescue and care of homeless animals in addition to helping solve the bigger problem of overpopulation and animal homelessness is paramount.”
Thanks to this guy’s huge heart, thousands of animals have been rescued from terrible, life-threatening situations.
He may not think of himself as a hero, but we certainly know otherwise. We only hope that his message hits home and others start feeling inspired to play their part in saving animals’ lives whenever the opportunity strikes as well.
Thankfully, if you need a little more inspiration, TMAR provides it by sharing their journey in a short video.
Visit their official website if you want to donate, adopt, or just want to know more about the Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue.
Watch Keith’s journey to becoming a hero to homeless animals in the video below.
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