The tragedy of 300 dogs found frozen to the ground in Turtle Mountain, North Dakota has been shared hundreds of times from the Facebook page of Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue. The news, however doesn’t mean in anyway that the rescue organization founders, Keith and Kim Benning, were responsible for the deaths of the dogs. The couple drove around an area of land covering 31 miles and found 300 dead dogs as the spring temperatures melted the snow and the ice in their little section of the world.
“One of our volunteers from Grand Forks came up and I drove her around to show her the problem. Did we see dead dogs? Yes. Did we stop and count 300 that day? No. Did 300 dogs die this winter? Yes. I had several messages for stray mothers that had puppies under trailers in early December. The people that message did so because they cared. What I ended up with was 30 dead frozen puppies from various litters. Some were emaciated and a little older, and some were only a few days old. Mom must have gone out looking for food and the puppies couldn’t stay warm enough. That was on four trips from people that messaged. How many didn’t message? How many died in garbage piles and abandoned homes or trailers?”
According to Keith, who is a deputy in the area and Kim, an emergency room nurse practitioner, this sad state of affairs happens every year. Dogs that have not been spayed or neutered breed in the spring, summer and fall, and when the innocent litters are born, they quickly become sick, neglected and starved – thus freezing to death from lack of care. Although the rescue organization does the best they can to save dogs, they have no actual shelter and use their own home to nurse and foster strays with a little help from outside volunteers (thank goodness).
“I know this because we are the ones that do our best to deal with it… We turn dogs away every week because we just don’t have the room. We are the ones that decides who lives and who dies by who we have room to rescue,” continued Kim. “This is not a reservation problem. This is not a native problem. Anyone who thinks differently can leave the page. This is a geographical economic problem. We are the second poorest county in the state and have the highest jobless rate. It’s hard for people to find work when there…”
And as to the photo of the dead dog, his picture was posted as a reminder of a dog Kim loved when she was younger. His name was Snowy, and for this dog – she was there when his photo was taken:
“This one, what was his life like, how old was he, was he ever loved once, even for a day? Or did he somehow revert from domesticated back to his wild ancestor and only care about survival? Even then, survival is never a solitary thing; was anyone ever by his side, even for a day? I fear that what I imagine his life to be is actually much less harsh than the incredibly cold life he lived.”
Spring is upon Turtle Mountain again. Pets who have not been spayed or neutered will begin the reproductive cycle again, and next winter history will repeat itself. The solution is to rescue, surrender, spay and neuter. To help, please click here. Break the cycle and help those who cannot speak.
(Photo of dead dog from 300 dogs died at Turtle Mountain courtesy of Turtle Mountain Animal Rescue)
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