Meet ‘Roma’: Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue saves miracle puppy in bitter cold

Published: Dec. 29, 2022 at 5:27 PM CST
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BELCOURT, N.D. (KMOT) - It’s been a brutal winter so far, but there are stories that give us cause for hope.

Those who run animal refuges have to brave the bitter cold to save animals in need.

Your News Leader learned about the heroic efforts of a group in the Turtle Mountains to save a puppy, whose story is now captivating followers around the world.

The Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue, often referred to as TMAR, got the call on Dec. 20. A dog and her four pups were stuck beneath a hollow porch. The rescue posted a live stream on Facebook. One Facebook comment said, “I’d tear the deck off.” If only it was that easy.

Conditions were polar and arctic-like with temperatures as low as -30 degrees Fahrenheit. TMAR’s founder Keith Benning said the ground was frozen like ice.

“You swing as hard as you could and you’d make a little hole about that big and about that deep,” said Benning.

Benning said it took them 45 minutes with a pickaxe to dig a path.

He said the more he tried to reach for the pup, the further she backed away.

“I had to stop for a minute and rest my arm and one last time managed to hook and just yank her. She came tumbling. It had to be that way,” said Benning.

The mom and her one pup, now named Roma, were the only survivors. Three puppies the same size as Roma didn’t make it. Benning said the mom did a good job nursing them, but it was just too cold. The lone puppy was named after Roma, a Facebook follower from the UK whose mom passed away.

“We found out that her mom was also a very small woman and was a real fighter and really tenacious,” said Benning.

Benning said the dogs were likely born under the porch and managed to survive there despite the conditions.

“I thought there was no way she was going to pull through and after, I thought she was the toughest little puppy I’ve ever seen,” he said.

After the entire ordeal, Roma is receiving some TLC, and support from people around the world as she regains her strength.

Benning said they are partnered with organizations all over the country to provide people with access to spay and neuter clinics.

You can go on the Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue Facebook page for information about their adoption program and to follow Roma’s progress.