Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue aids animals impacted by hurricanes

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MINOT, N.D. - It's the opposite end of the country but a North Dakota animal rescue organization wasn't going let distance or floodwaters from helping them save the lives of animals impacted by this year's hurricanes.

"We're in Florida, and it's hot," said Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue founder Keith Benning.

Fourteen days and 6,000 miles later, Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue took hurricane relief rescue into its own hands.

"Just dealing with dogs that are afraid. When they been trapped in floodwaters, they're scared so you just have to go slow and have patience with them," said Benning.

The group raised funds with the help of the community for the initial trip to Texas for Harvey, but then Irma hit Florida, which extended the trip.

"We raised a lot of money so you really have to thank everyone in North Dakota from the local community and the state for helping fund it. With the amount of dogs we shipped back, with the cost, we're $2,000 down from the trip, but if we're out $2,000 it was well worth it for the good we were able to do," said Benning.

Benning, his wife Kim, and Turtle Mountain volunteer Chelsey Rongen, brought back shelter dogs that were on death row.

"It was over 20 that we brought back. It ended up costing almost $2,000 to bring them back and they were all shelter dogs that were going to be put down to make room for other dogs that were displaced by the hurricane," said Benning.

These dogs displaced from the hurricane were kept in a safe place until they were reunited with their owners.

"It was the most deepest, heartfelt thank you that you could possibly get. A lot of people got chocked up, a lot of people got tears in their eyes. There were a lot of handshakes and a lot of hugs. They appreciated the help from as far away as we came" said Benning.​

The dogs that the rescue center brought back to North Dakota were sent to an animal shelter in Grand Forks where they will wait for their forever homes.

To find out how you can help the Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue Shelter, you can visit https://www.facebook.com/TurtleMountainAnimalRescueNetwork/