Why We Do What We Do
In February 2007, Theresa Strader, a nurse, wife, and mother in Colorado Springs and a fan of Italian Greyhounds, received a one-sentence email about hundreds of dogs in need of help at a large dog auction in Missouri. Unsure what to expect, she traveled with her daughter to the auction, and when they arrived, was horrified by all that she saw and learned. She was instantly moved by a female Italian Greyhound sitting up in the back of a cage in a dark barn. The dog was sitting on her back legs, rubbing her stomach with her front paws. She looked Theresa square in the eyes and asked her for help. Theresa knew that she couldn't leave the auction without #251.
During her years as a breeding dog, Lily (as Theresa named her) had spent all of her days confined to a small, cold wire cage in a dark, foul-smelling barn. Never was she removed from her cage for exercise or socialization. In her dreary confines, Lily was forced to produce one litter after another with no respite. Like all commercial breeding dogs, she was a veritable breeding machine whose worth was measured in only one way – her ability to produce puppies for sale in pet stores across the country.
‘Lily’ was worn out, with a rotted jaw and mammary tumors along her entire left side. Lily was born, raised, and perhaps had 13 litters of puppies before being sold to Theresa at the auction for $40.
On that day, Theresa Strader single-handedly started National Mill Dog Rescue, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization incorporated in the state of Colorado, whose mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry. She started the organization in her home in Black Forest, CO.
Under Theresa’s inspirational guidance, National Mill Dog Rescue has rescued more than 9,900 mill dogs from across the country. The organization has grown to include hundreds of passionate and dedicated volunteers and a large social media following. NMDR is now based in a facility in Peyton, Colorado. The facility houses approximately 100 rescued dogs at a time and, on average NMDR rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes about 75 dogs each month. The documentary, “I Breathe” was based on the story of Lily and National Mill Dog Rescue. It is truly Theresa’s passion that inspires many across the world.
On June 11, 2013 the original location of National Mill Dog Rescue (and Theresa's home) was destroyed in the Black Forest fire that consumed 511 homes. Through all of this and her loss, she continued to remain focused on her mission and was on the road again within weeks, rescuing mill dogs.
Lily died in May 13, 2008. In her memory, more than 9,500 mill dogs have been saved. Learn more about National Mill Dog Rescue Here.