National Mill Dog Rescue | A second chance

Photo courtesy of Theresa Strader.

The National Mill Dog Rescue (NMDR) is located east of Colorado Springs near Peyton, and it is in this rescue that thousands of mill dogs have started new lives.

Executive Director, Theresa Strader, has led the rescue since its founding in 2007 and is always happy to share the story of this inspiring organization.

Strader reports that she always had a passion for animals and their well-being, even as a young child. In 2007, she came across a one-sentence email on a dog-related message board. It mentioned 50 Italian Greyhounds to save, a phone number and nothing else.

Calling this number changed his life. It rang at a dog rescue in Ohio, which had heard of a puppy mill closing in Missouri that would auction off 561 dogs, including 49 Italian Greyhounds (one of the favorite breeds in Strader).

The Ohio-based rescue planned to buy all of the greyhounds there, but Strader said she would help because she was familiar with the breed. She planned to take two or three home – but ended up with more. She traveled to Missouri with her 14-year-old daughter and brought 13 home.

According to Strader, “As soon as I walked into this building and saw dogs living this way, I knew I would spend the rest of my life doing something for these dogs. This organization was born this that day.

Strader came home with these 13 dogs. She says, “The weeks and months that followed were the education of a lifetime… the dogs were so physically and emotionally damaged that it took over a year to place them all.”

The dog that had the biggest impact on the founding of NMDR was Lily. Lily was terrified of people and huddled in the corner of her cage, shivering, when Strader first saw her. She suffered from severe jaw and facial injuries resulting from years without dental treatment. While Lily was only with Strader and her family for 15 months before she died of these complications at just 8 years old, she had a huge impact in motivating Strader to start and grow the National Mill Dog Rescue.

Strader and her husband — a nurse and a post office manager, respectively — had no experience running nonprofits and had to learn as they went. But, says Strader, “Sometimes you have to make bold moves.”

They found their success through “hard work, phenomenal people and a love of dogs”. They struggled at first to find the right volunteer staff, but have since developed a team dedicated to helping these dogs.

Factory dogs and their rehabilitation

Life in a puppy mill is no life at all. Dogs are almost never socialized and therefore become extremely fearful of humans and other dogs. They are kept in kennels or small cages that they hardly ever leave. They have no idea of ​​the outside world and many dogs need a careful introduction to grass, dirt, stairs, people, other dogs and anything that a normally bred dog would accept without ulterior motive.

National Mill Dog Rescue before grooming
‘Needs tender care and a bath’ Photo courtesy of Theresa Strader.

Factory dogs receive no dental or medical care in most cases. Strader says that many dogs, “if they’re 4 or 5 years old, they’ve had a lot of litters. Some get calluses on their feet from standing on the rungs that make up the floor of their kennel. Many don’t have teeth, which is a big problem for small breed dogs.Many have large hernias, uterine infections, malnutrition, and other serious medical issues.

Dogs are often treated for tumors, eye problems, and illnesses. Some have birth defects, such as stunted or missing limbs, which can lead to mobility issues and other problems.

Strader shared that many dogs have most if not all of their teeth pulled when they come to the NMDR, but they bounce back quickly. “In the first two days they eat better than ever, they’ve been through so much for so long – when you relieve that pain and that bad taste…they start to like eating.”

Even after correcting their health issues, these dogs still need to learn that people are safe and life can be good. Many remain reserved around people and other dogs. Some adapt quickly.

“We are learning how forgiving dogs really are. I see them when they come out of the cage, I see where they come from. Strader said. “They really are forgiving little creatures.”

Much of their time at NMDR involves socializing. Volunteers make time to talk to the dogs, sit in their kennels, walk them, and socialize with other dogs in open spaces around the facility. They work patiently to make sure the dogs get used to the sights and sounds of people so they can eventually be adopted into loving homes where they will feel safe.

This method works. Strader was happy to share that in April this year, 15 years after its founding, the Rescue helped 17,000 dogs. And that number keeps growing – in May alone, they brought in almost 100 new dogs from factories across the country. Strader points out that these are “some of the hardest dogs to manage…they had minimal socialization, minimal medical care.”

National Mill Dog Rescue after photo
“Looking healthy after a grooming” Photo courtesy of Theresa Strader.

how to help

There are many ways to help the NMDR. For those interested in adopting or fostering dogs, start with the “Get Involved” page on the NMDR website. After completing the application, the Adoption Team Leader will contact you and discuss the approval, and from there you can tour the facility and meet the dogs.

The staff will help you find the right dog for your personal situation and help you find out what the dog may need. Some dogs may require additional conditions for adoption, such as a secure fence. Additionally, anyone who adopts from rescue is also enrolled in the Lost Dog Team, which assists any never-adopted or adopted dog if it escapes.

For those who prefer to volunteer, there is always a need for help. Register online and attend an orientation. Volunteers can come individually or in groups, and there is always work to be done. Volunteers help with all aspects of care, from walking the dogs and supervising “puppy parties”, to enrichment, assisting with awareness events, helping out on social media or maintenance of the establishment.

A popular volunteer program connects children and dogs through the NMDR Reading Program. Here, children (adults are also welcome) are paired with dogs and sit in their kennels and read to them.

Of course, donations are always accepted. There are a variety of ways to donate, including PayPal and an Amazon Wishlist. You can also find NMDR on Amazon Smile or donate through King Soopers or a variety of online retailers.

You can buy NMDR products – including a calendar – or just donate dog food. If you would like to memorialize your own dogs, you can sponsor a brick for the memorial garden. One fund is specifically for veterinary care, while there is also an option to donate your vehicle or set up a monthly donation.

Finally, those interested can also follow NMDR on Facebook. Liking, commenting and sharing their posts will help spread awareness of the work Rescue does. Also keep an eye out for fundraisers, including a benefit gala at Broadmoor on October 1.

Any help is appreciated by NMDR staff. Strader says, “I’m a big proponent of encouraging people to adopt their animals, of standing up for the animals that are already on this planet to whom we owe, that our fellow man has somehow failed in the shelter and rescue system. Speak for the animals that are already there. It’s been an interesting journey to see how this industry works, and it’s gotten better, but there’s still a long way to go.

The Maverick Observer is a free-thinking online publication covering events in our region. We launched in February 2020 to hold our politicians and businesses accountable. We hope to educate, inform, entertain and instill a sense of community in you.


About Author

Comments are closed.