Even small gifts change lives

Pay It Forward

Thousands of Animals Rescued Out of Garage

The reality is tragic: where people are suffering, animals are suffering. The stray and unwanted animal population exists in the most underserved counties and communities. But thanks to Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue in North Dakota, forgotten animals are rescued every day.

"Together with donations like that from Bell Bank and individuals around the nation who have stepped in and recognized the force we've become, we've been able to make a real difference in a place that has – until now – been forgotten." - C.J. English, animal advocate and Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue volunteer

Bell Employees

Jen Lynch, Mortgage Servicing Lead



Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue

The Need

Founded in 2013 by husband and wife, Keith and Kimberly Benning, Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue (TMAR) is a grass roots garage rescue funded by supporters across the nation. The organization’s mission is to provide resources to end animal suffering.

Affordable vet care is sparse and animal overpopulation is persistent in and around North Dakota’s Rolette county. Vet bills alone can run $1,200 to $5,000 a month. Paying for those kinds of bills, in addition to supplies and resources for rescue, creates tremendous overhead. With their sole income coming from animal adoptions, TMAR’s funds are often scarce.

“Saving for a shelter, at times, seems insurmountable, but we are doing it with donations like the one we've received from Bell Bank,” says C. J. English, a TMAR volunteer in charge of raising awareness and funds. “Not only was it a surprise – and uplifting to every volunteer to keep going – it puts us that much closer to our dream of preventing thousands of unwanted animals from dying in the cold.”

The Impact

Since its humble beginnings, TMAR has rescued more than 4,000 stray and unwanted animals in North Dakota, all out of a 4-kennel garage. While the bulk of their rescues occur in the Midwest, Keith has driven thousands of miles to rescue animals when natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey and Florence hit Texas and the Carolinas.

Today, more than a dozen volunteers work on the ground and behind the scenes moving 70 to 100 cats and dogs into rescue and, eventually, permanent homes. C.J. has written a book called Rescue Matters – to be released December 2018 – detailing the organization’s story.

When Jen heard TMAR’s funds were scarce – forcing them to make a decision between a life-saving procedure and keeping their doors open – she knew she wanted to help. Pooling Pay It Forward funds with co-workers Maribeth Joraanstad, Casey Gourde, Jeff Williams, Brandy Duberowski, Carrie Nett, Paige Bladow and Abigail Delling, Jen sent a surprise letter and check for $6,200.

“When a problem gets so large, it can feel as though there’s no hope. I believe this rescue brings hope to the community,” Jen says.They hold free clinics, knowing many individuals in their community cannot afford certain procedures for their pets. They save those that other people or organizations may give up on. They believe all animals are worth saving.”

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