National Mill Dog Rescue's mission is to rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome discarded breeding dogs and to educate the public about the cruel realities of the commerical dog breeding industry.

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 8,900 mill dogs from across the country. The organization has grown to include many passionate and dedicated volunteers and over 140,000 Facebook fans. 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.  


What is a puppy mill?

As defined by the Humane Society of the United States, Puppy mills are breeding facilities that produce purebred puppies in large numbers. The puppies are sold either directly to the public via the Internet, newspaper ads, at the mill itself, or are sold to brokers and pet shops across the country.  Sadly, some dogs are forced to live in puppy mills their entire lives. They are kept there for one reason only: to produce more puppies. Repeatedly bred, many of these dogs are disposed of once their reproductive capacity wanes unless a rescue group will save them. Thousands of these breeding operations currently exist in the United States. Please click to spend "12 Seconds in a Puppy Mill".


The farming of dogs is an American disgrace. Do not purchase puppies in pet stores or on the Internet. Do your homework before you purchase a puppy. Better yet, visit your local shelter or rescue group and adopt a dog who already has no place to call home. Take pride in rescuing your dog and ask all of your dog-loving friends to do the same. It is high time to put an end to the pain and suffering forced upon the wonderful creatures that we call "man's best friends".  Watch Believe in Something to learn more about why we do what we do. 

Puppy Mill Survivors - before and after


Thank you for supporting National Mill Dog Rescue.


National Mill Dog Rescue
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