TMARS co-founder Puneet Grewal with her four dogs. (Yes there are four in this picture). (Photo contributed)

‘Rescue starts from the moment they come through the doors’: TMARS co-founder

Puneet Grewal of Elkford co-founded TMARS in 2020, and with the help of a small army of volunteers and fosters has helped dozens of animals find homes

For Elkford local Puneet Grewal, founding the Elk Valley’s first animal rescue society was as much a community service as it was a labour of love.

With a small pack of dogs of her own, she said too many animals were going without homes and abandoned in an area full of animal lovers.

“I saw a need for our community, I had fostered for a previous rescue (based) in the West Kootenays, and I had taken in a lot of animals from our local community – local animals. I saw this as a service that needed to come to life in the Elk Valley.”

Grewal started Twin Meadows Animal Rescue Society (TMARS) in early 2020, and was joined by co-founder Nycki Wannamaker of Fernie. Together, and with the help of volunteers, foster families and donations, more than 20 dogs found homes thanks to TMARS in 2020, “and lots and lots of cats.”

Grewal said that TMARS wanted to be more than just an organization that matched up homeless animals with future families.

“Often times when there’s an animal that’s surrendered, it’s not fixed or it doesn’t have it’s shots, and it usually requires some work to get the animal ready for adoption.”

Grewal said that helping people and families find a new family member was the most rewarding part of the work TMARS did, and that her philosophy since before she co-founded the society was that no matter their life before, “rescue starts from the moment they come through the doors. They get a toy, they get a bed, they get treated like a pet.”

One of her own dogs – Blue, a husky – had his own rough patch in life, but he had since become Grewal’s “right hand dog” at TMARS.

“It took him 11 months to warm up to my family. He didn’t want anything to do with us. A broken heart, is what I saw,” said Grewal.

But now?

“He’s happy. He has his moments. I am pretty sure about 50 puppies think Blue is their father. He helps with fosters. He’s a well-rounded boy.”

One cat currently looking for a forever home with TMARS – Carl – was a phone call.

“Someone said yeah, there’s a cat here that needs help. This was just a stray cat – we didn’t know if he was owned, where he was from, all we knew was that he needed medical attention, so we got him in.”

Grewal said that as a charity that was funded by the community, and worked for the community, they were always listening to what the community wanted and expected from them when it came to animal welfare.

“We try to go a little above and beyond the general scope of rescue services. Sometimes it can be overwhelming and a lot, but other times, its very rewarding to be able to help your community.”

Speaking of the community, Grewal said that TMARS wouldn’t be able to do much without the support they had received – through donations, volunteer time and more.

Above all, Grewal said that no matter what, anyone with an animal that they felt they couldn’t care for any longer should always think of the animals welfare first.

“Don’t feel ashamed ever to surrender a pet. Don’t let that stigma cloud your vision for what’s best for your animal … be kind to them.”

For more information about TMARS, visit their website or Facebook page.

READ MORE: Hearts of gold: Elk Valley locals help homeless animals find their humans
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