Every year millions of domestic animals are left stray and forced to fend for themselves, but one a local man is doing his part to help those animals in north-central North Dakota.
Keith Benning moved to Rolla four years ago to work as a Deputy Sheriff and Municipal Judge. But when he arrived, he noticed a problem that wasn’t being solved.
“We saw there were a lot of strays and reached out to try and find out where is the animal shelter,” said Benning, Turtle Mountain Shelter Owner.
But there wasn’t one. Benning knew something had to be done.
“The problem turned my head and then at some point realized that we needed to do something and I think that’s what it is with rescue is to just do something. Volunteer, foster, anything, but take some kind of action to try and deal with the problem,” said Benning.
And he did just that, creating Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue. But this isn’t your typical rescue center. This one is in the garage of his Rolla home and he said he’s serving a 2,000-mile radius, which doesn’t make things easy on him.
“People don’t really realize how much work it actually is. One of the biggest things is cleaning, that’s a constant all-day thing. Vaccinations, deworming, vet appointments, vet bills, they really add up fast,” said Benning.
His rescue shelter is non-profit and vet bills can climb into the thousands of dollars all out of Benning’s pocket. But thanks to constant support from the community, he’s been able to maintain and continue what he loves doing.
“People are happy that there is finally someplace to be able to take animals if they find them, they’re strays or injured or cold. The community feedback has been really good and honestly, without the community, we wouldn’t be able to do what we do,” said Benning.
Since starting Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue, Benning has helped save nearly 5,000 animals, and he said he plans to continue his push by building a bigger facility in the near future.
“With the future building, I really want to focus on a healthy environment for the animals. A lot of plants, trees inside, paint the inside of the kennels and murals to make it as calm and as wholesome of environment that we possibly can,” said Benning.
Benning’s work has also taken him far from home.
In 2017, he traveled to Florida and Texas to help with animal rescue efforts after two devastating hurricanes.
To see more about the work Benning is doing with Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue, CLICK HERE to see their Facebook page.