Theresa vowed, in Lily's name, to take up the cause for the mill dogs and thus National Mill Dog Rescue was born.
To read more about Lily's story, click here:
Please join us in our efforts. Share the story of Lily and the plight of mill dogs everywhere. Thank you.
The journey that brings us to this point has been physically demanding, emotionally draining, and has consumed every spare second of my and many other people’s lives. And I don’t know a single one of us who would trade the experience.
Speaking for myself, I can say that I have never reaped such deep personal rewards. Right behind the dogs we rescue, I am the most blessed one of all. I feel so fortunate to have the opportunity to give them a voice.
Our rescued dogs are heroes, each and every one. They give a whole new meaning to strength, courage and ability—the strength to overcome serious illnesses and injuries, the courage to trust hands that formerly were so unkind, and the ability to enrich our lives beyond measure.
The lessons in forgiveness and resilience that they teach us will stay with us forever. They give us the energy and yearning to go back for more. What an incredibly fulfilling and special experience it is to be on this journey.
To our volunteers and supporters, you are the lifeblood of this organization. National Mill Dog Rescue would not exist without you; and thousands of dogs would continue to languish or be destroyed, never having the chance to enjoy life as a member of a loving family.
To all of you who have stepped forward to support our efforts in so many ways, my gratitude is truly immeasurable.
My most sincere thanks,
We are a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization located in Peyton, Colo.
National Mill Dog Rescue was established in 2007 in honor of a forgiving, courageous little Italian greyhound named Lily.
For the first seven years of her life, Lily was a commercial breeding dog in a Missouri puppy mill. She lived in a small, cold wire cage in a dark, foul-smelling barn. In her dreary confines, she was forced to produce litter after litter without reprieve. A veritable breeding machine, Lily’s worth was measured in only one way—her ability to produce puppies.
By 7 years of age, Lily was worn out. Years of no veterinary care had taken a devastating toll on her body, leaving her profoundly disfigured. Minimal human contact had left her terrified of people.
After four decades of using dogs for profit, it was time for Lily’s breeder to retire. Lily, along with all 560 other dogs from her mill, would head to auction.
Responding to an email plea for help with the dogs from this auction, Theresa Strader, a lifelong rescuer, offered her assistance. At that time she didn’t even know dog auctions existed, but she was determined to help. Although she knew what the term “puppy mill” meant, she could never have imagined what she would witness and learn on that rescue journey.
On Feb. 17, 2007, Strader arrived at the auction. As instructed by the auction staff, she followed the crowd into the first building, where approximately 100 dogs were housed. Within moments of entering, much like the dogs in front of her, she was overcome with sadness and despair.
Lily was plastered in the back corner of her breeding cage, terrified of the goings on around her. She caught Strader’s eye, her auction tag No. 251 hanging from her neck. Strader could readily see the toll the years had taken on the little dog—she was riddled with mammary tumors and her lower jaw had rotted away. Quietly approaching the cage, Strader whispered this promise: “I will take you from this hell and love you ‘til you die.”
In that moment, Strader knew she would devote the rest of her life to giving these dogs a voice, and on that day National Mill Dog Rescue was born. Strader returned home with Lily and a dozen other dogs and an unswerving passion to make a lasting difference.
of neglect she had suffered, Lily died
peacefully in her daddy’s arms in May
95% volunteer-based 50,979 hours recorded 1,283 individuals registered
Education and Outreach
School and other programs: 13 Media appearances: 15
Website: www.milldogrescue.org Social Media:
facebook.com/nationalmilldogrescue: 81,073 likes twitter.com/milldogrescue: 10,503 followers pinterest.com/milldogrescue: 3,038 followers youtube.com/milldogrescue: 420,952 views
27 trips @ $2,500 each 60 or more dogs per trip 28,270 miles traveled
Typical number at our kennel: 110 Typical number in foster care: 100 Average rehabilitation time: 4–6 weeks
Basic veterinary care: $200 per dog Extensive veterinary care: $5,000 per month Dog food: $65 per day
Kennel expenses: $6,400 per month
Average per month: 64 Off-site adoption fairs: 60
Over the past seven years, we have grown from the original group of three committed individuals—Theresa Strader, Richard Strader and fellow-rescuer Helen Freeman—to a well-established, well-respected nonprofit whose day-to-day operations are handled by hundreds of volunteers. The organization employs only 11 full- and part-time staff.
From 2007 through 2013, more than 8,400 dogs were rescued from puppy mills throughout the Midwest and as far east as Virginia and Tennessee.
By providing extensive medical treatment, rehabilitation, socialization and adoption services, each and every rescued dog has been assured a future life as a treasured pet.
Our long-range goal is to have the financial resources to save every dog in need until puppy mills can be closed permanently. To that end, we work tirelessly to educate the public about the cruelty of the commercial dog-breeding industry. We stand strongly opposed to the mills, the pet stores that front for them, and in support of rescue and shelter adoptions.
We rely on donations for everything we do.
Rescue is the most important part of our mission. In 2013, we lifted 1,638 dogs out of misery, 130 more than in 2012. We brought 912 home with us for rehabilitation and adoption, and arranged for 726 to go to shelters and rescues in our small but well-established network across the country.
Occasionally, we bought dogs at auction that were unwanted by attendees for a variety of reasons, most often advanced age. Considered unmarketable, these dogs do not draw large bids (typically $10 to $20). We are mindful not to infuse any significant amount of money into the industry.
A typical rescue involves a three- to seven-day road trip of 2,000 to 5,000 miles across several states, gathering 60 to 120 dogs each time. Our rescue teams are extremely skilled at keeping the dogs safe and comfortable as they travel to promising new lives.
Our unique approach to rescue involves developing and maintaining relationships directly with mill breeders. This has allowed us to access and save thousands of dogs that otherwise would have been destroyed.
In the past three years, the number of breeders who contact us when they are retiring their dogs has nearly doubled, now approaching 200. They are located primarily in Kansas, Missouri, Iowa, Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Nebraska.
Despite our desire to respond to every breeder’s request and thus save many more lives, we continue to adhere to a strict policy of not overcrowding our kennel facility or overburdening our volunteers. Doing so would jeopardize the well-being of the animals already in our care.
Once rescued, our puppy-mill survivors’ final destinations differ depending upon circumstances. We bring those needing the most help back with us.
Those that are younger or need less rehabilitation go to our network partners.
National Mill Dog Rescue 2013 Annual Report
Distances travelled also depend upon circumstances. We often drive dogs all the way to their destinations; other times we meet our network partners midway.
In 2013, the dogs that did not come to our Peyton kennel facility went to the following organizations: Arizona Animal Welfare League, Denver Dachshunds, Dumb Friends League, and North Shore Animal League America. These groups honor our policy of returning to us any dog that they determine needs more rehabilitation than they are able or qualified to provide.
Last year we continued to streamline the intake process at our facility, getting new arrivals out of their traveling crates and into loving arms as quickly as possible. Every dog is ID-collared, microchipped, named and photographed. Each then receives a thorough exam by our veterinary team. Dogs needing emergency treatment are prioritized and cared for accordingly. Several were taken to the Powers Pet Emergency clinic in Colorado Springs during the year.
Our standard intake protocol also includes deworming, vaccinations and heartworm testing. Baths and grooming follow—an experience many of our dogs have never before encountered.
In the days following rescue and intake, we provide spay/neuter surgery, extensive dental care due to severe dental disease, and a multitude of other necessary surgeries, including but not limited to: mammary tumor removal, hernia repairs, eye and ear procedures, and orthopedic surgeries.
Throughout their entire stay with us, from rescue through rehabilitation and adoption, our dogs are lovingly cared for by our extraordinarily compassionate, dedicated volunteers.
A typical discarded mill dog is 6 to 10 years old, has had minimal, if any, veterinary care, and limited socialization with humans. Despite the magnitude of suffering they have endured, most of them are amazingly resilient. Once they receive the physical care they so desperately need and learn the trust of a loving touch, the great majority—approximately 80 percent—are ready to move on to lifelong homes. The average time they spend with us is only four to six weeks.
About 20 percent do suffer serious physical or emotional effects from long-term neglect. These dogs may require extensive veterinary care and/or psychological rehabilitation. Nurturing them often takes many months, sometimes longer. We are deeply committed to
these dogs and are entirely successful in their restoration to health and eventual placement.
Due to the grave lack of
socialization, most puppy-mill
survivors display some degree of
fear once rescued. They are in desperate need of security, consistency, time and, above all, a knowledgeable, loving hand.
We do an initial evaluation of every dog during intake, separating those that fall into the 80-percent category (i.e., expected to become adoptable fairly soon) from those that need more help.
Most dogs in this first category quickly learn to enjoy meal time, one-on-one play time in our large indoor and outdoor exercise areas, as well as cuddle time in the
laps of many volunteers.
Each dog experiences significant, positive human contact every single day. Nothing we do is more important than exhibiting to these dogs that, in their new lives, people can be trusted and will always be kind to them.
Some dogs go into skilled foster homes where they learn all about life as a family pet—including housetraining, stairway navigation, leash walking and more—from both the humans in the household and the resident dogs. Once they have gained confidence and learned family-living skills, they are ready to be adopted into lifelong homes.
Highly fearful dogs are enrolled in a special program where they receive intensive, long-term rehabilitation.
Our experienced rehabilitation team evaluates these dogs and creates individualized plans of care
that include setting reasonable goals and documenting progress. Three team members are assigned to each dog.
National Mill Dog Rescue 2013 Annual Report
Intensive rehabilitation generally begins with visits from the dogs’ assigned caregivers three to five times a week. Caregivers may simply sit and read in the dogs’ kennels in an effort to get them accustomed to the presence of people.
These dogs may need days or weeks before they seek an outstretched hand or permit a gentle touch. We give them whatever time they need. Their progress can be heart- wrenchingly slow, but each small step is a miracle considering what they endured in their former lives.
In 2013, 99 dogs went through this long-term rehabilitation program for extreme fear. All have since graduated and have been adopted.
The successful work of our rehabilitation team demonstrates that every life has value, and that with time, patience, persistence and love, we can help even those dogs that have suffered the most severe emotional damage.
In 2013, we continued to rely heavily on the advice of certified behavior expert Jill Haffley, MA, IACP-CDT. Jill donated hundreds of hours of professional services helping our rehabilitation team—as well as 200 foster families and new adopters—better understand the behavior of the dogs in their care. (Read more under Post-Adoption Support.)
Some of the dogs we rescue have injuries, illnesses or genetic defects that require specialized veterinary treatment and/or surgery. No matter the cost, all of our dogs receive the care they need to restore them to health and put them on the road to happy lives.
Conditions seen with frequency in puppy-mill survivors include pyometra, injured and infected eyes, ears scarred from untreated infections, parasite infestation, parvo, leg and foot deformities, blindness, deafness, hernias, mammary tumors, other cancers, decayed and infected teeth, and rotted gums.
In addition to our outstanding in-house veterinary team led by Dr. Michele Robinson, we were grateful last year to receive exceptional care for our dogs from Dr. William Tuthill and Dr. Megan Pansiera of North Academy Veterinary Hospital, Colorado Springs; Dr. Ted Mohr, Dr. Amy Mueller and Dr. Rick Coufal of Black Forest Veterinary Clinic, Colorado Springs; Dr. Michael Bauer of Colorado Canine Orthopedics, Colorado Springs; Dr. Jeremy Orr of Rocky Mountain Veterinary Cardiology, Denver; Dr. Stephen Lane of Rocky Mountain Veterinary Neurology, Denver; Dr. Cody Laas of Veterinary Imaging Specialists, Colorado Springs; as well as the staff at the Colorado State University Veterinary Teaching Hospital in Fort Collins
Behaviorist/Trainer Jill Hafflffley and Emmett
suite. When rescued at age 5, Haylie was completely blind and in severe pain due to glaucoma, requiring immediate removal of both eyes. Haylie was adopted by her foster mom and is now living a happy, carefree
National Mill Dog Rescue 2013 Annual Report
Throughout the year, we had as many as 150 dogs available for adoption at any given time.
Our most effective tools for highlighting our available dogs are our website postings and social media platforms. Our volunteers post exceptional photos of our dogs along with detailed biographies. We also post our available dogs on Petfinder.com, Adopt-a-Pet.com and Petango.com.
Most often, people learn about our website through traditional media appearances, local and national news stories, and social media. In 2013, roughly 5,000 people from across the country submitted pre-adoption applications.
Potential adopters are carefully screened to determine:
(1) whether they understand the possible challenges and/or expenses in adopting a former mill dog, and (2) their level of understanding and commitment to ensure the dog’s safety.
A comprehensive application, phone interview, meet-and-greet session and,
in most cases, a home visit are all part of ensuring that our dogs are placed in the
best possible homes. We also have a thorough out-of-state adoption process, which includes completing the standard application plus providing three personal references, a veterinary reference, and several photos of the home and securely fenced yard.
Another successful venue for showcasing our dogs is our adoption fairs. Last year, we conducted an average of five per month at area businesses. Our hardworking adoption-fair team handled all aspects of these events from transport to set up and breakdown, care of the animals, and communication with the public.
Much appreciation is extended to the following adoption-fair host businesses: In Colorado Springs, Petco (Prominent Point and North Nevada), Whole Foods, Furry Friends, and Sam’s Club; to the north, Petco (Englewood and Denver), Kriser’s in Westminster, and Wag N Wash in Highlands Ranch.