To rescue, rehabilitate and rehome discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry
Rescue is the most important part of our mission. In 2020, we reached a milestone by rescuing our 15,000th puppy mill survivor since our beginning in 2007.
Educating the public comes close on the heels of rescue. We are highly visible, with adoption fairs and dozens of school and Scout troops visiting our facility or receiving classroom programs, where they learn firsthand what these dogs have endured and how to help reduce the suffering in the future.
Our social media platform is our most successful educational tool. In 2020 we had more than 782,000 Facebook fans, 67,000 Instagram followers, 27,000 YouTube subscribers and 26,000 Twitter followers. Our total social media reach is 34,263,838. Our average engagement rate exceeds all measures of successful pages.
1) Our most pressing need is funding. It costs an average of $132,565 monthly to run the organization--including rescue trips to Midwest states, operating our kennel facility and veterinary/rehab center, feeding the dogs, providing veterinary care, adoption and post-adoption services and covering administrative costs.
2) Veterinary care for our dogs comes next. The average cost of in-house care in 2020 was $37,500 monthly. Conditions seen with frequency include pyometra, injured and infected eyes, ears scarred from untreated infections, parasite infestation, parvo, leg and foot deformities, blindness, deafness, hernias, mammary tumors, other serious cancers, decayed and infected teeth and rotted gums. About 1/3 of our dogs must be seen by specialists due to the serious nature of their conditions. The average cost of specialized care in 2020 was $8,000 monthly. We give every dog saved all the medical care needed to restore health. We have ongoing relationships with an emergency care hospital, regular veterinary hospitals, orthopedic specialties, heart specialties, eye and ear specialties, as well as the Colorado State University veterinary teaching hospital at Fort Collins.
3) In 2015, we built a warehouse on our property for the purpose of storing and distributing pet food to 75 or more rescue groups throughout Colorado. The food is delivered free of charge by RescueBank.org and distributed by Kibble Kitchen. We are the sole distribution point for our state. The cost of this warehouse, which would also provide inside storage for our vehicles, exceeded $50,000, and is one way we give back to the animal welfare community.
4) Thanks to a major donor, we also built on our property a free-standing, full-service veterinary clinic and rehabilitation center for our rescued dogs. The Timothy Center has been fully operational since early 2018. This donor's gift allowed us to realize a dream and has helped reduce our outside veterinary specialty expenses by permitting our veterinary team to diagnose and treat a multitude of conditions that we used to have to send for outside care.
5) In 2020, we added an addition to our 11,000 sq. ft. kennel, so that we could accommodate more rescued dogs. The addition adds 3,000 sq. ft. to our space. We found ourselves in need of this space because, since opening The Timothy Center, we have been able to provide faster, more efficient diagnostics, surgeries and treatment for our dogs. As a result, we are seeing a 10-day shorter timeline between rescue, rehabilitation and adoption. The addition enables us to rescue and care for another 36 dogs at any given time.
Statement from Theresa Strader: "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 were formerly 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."
National Mill Dog Rescue is the leading organization in the country devoted exclusively to rescuing puppy-mill survivors.
Over the past 14 years, we have grown from the original group of three committed individuals to a well established, well respected nonprofit whose day-to-day operations are handled by hundreds of volunteers. The organization employs only 31 full and part-time staff, most of whom are direct caregivers to the dogs..
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.
(1) NMDR Executive Director Theresa Strader received the ASPCA's 2013 Henry Bergh Award, Nov. 7, 2013. Following is from its press release::
NEW YORK-A group of outstanding animals and people . . . will be honored at this year's ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) Humane Awards Luncheon in New York City. The ceremony recognizes special animals as well as individuals who made a positive and lasting impact during the past year.
"This year's Humane Awards winners not only exemplify our mission of preventing cruelty to animals, but bring greater awareness to the unique and meaningful bond between humans and their pets," said ASPCA President & CEO Matthew Bershadker. "We're humbled by their achievements and their dedication to the voiceless and vulnerable animals who bring us so much joy."
(2) NMDR Executive Director Theresa Strader, founder of National Mill Dog Rescue, was recognized on Nov. 14, 2013, as the Merck Animal Health HomeAgain® Hero of the Year Award Winner.
Theresa was one of five finalists selected by an esteemed panel of judges including Captain Chesley B. "Sully" Sullenberger and Lorrie Sullenberger (hero and animal lovers), Steve Dale ("Steve Dale's Pet World"), Betsy Saul (co-founder of Petfinder.com), Dr. Jane Brunt (past president, American Association of Feline Practitioners), and Brian Kilcommons (author and award-winning dog trainer). Theresa was then selected as the winner by a public vote conducted on the HomeAgain website.
(3) In 2014, Theresa Strader was featured in "Woman's World," a weekly magazine displayed on news stands throughout the country. She was a Murphy-Goode Winery "meet our Heroes" winner for September that year, and she was chosen as one of "10 Amazing Women" by One Green Planet, an online guide that focuses on helping people, animals and the environment.
(4) Also in 2014, Theresa was chosen to present a TED Talk at a sold-out event sponsored by TEDx, a national nonprofit devoted to sharing ideas worth spreading.
(5) Feedback from the executive director of the Tony Stewart Foundation:.
CONGRATULATIONS on the outstanding work being done by staff & volunteers to so dramatically improve the lives of these animals. TSF follows your organization on our Facebook & Twitter and I personally continue to be impressed & impacted by the stories of rescue & survival.
Best wishes to everyone in Colorado! Joni Thompson / Executive Director / Tony Stewart Foundation
(6) In February 2016, Barkpost.com chose NMDR founder Theresa Strader as one of "Five Incredible Advocates for Dogs from Past to Present."
(7) Letters of Recommendation -- October 2016
I am so happy for the opportunity to recommend National Mill Dog Rescue for funding. As an NMDR funder we see first-hand the wonderful work that the organization does and the impact it makes to multiple communities across the country. The conversation around the injustice of "mill dogs" wouldn't be nearly as loud or have made such astounding progress without the strong leadership of NMDR.
Animal Assistance Foundation
405 Urban St.
It is my pleasure to confirm that National Mill Dog Rescue is an organization that fills an important role in removing dogs from puppy mill situations, investing necessary veterinary care and behavior care for these suffering animals, and finds appropriate placements for these dogs. It is only through careful collaboration that NMDR has built the necessary relationships to successfully impact these animals' lives. NMDR is an organization worthy of funding.
Apryl Steele, DVM
President & CEO
Dumb Friends League
2080 S. Quebec St.
Denver, CO 80231
On behalf of the Metro Denver Animal Welfare Alliance, I fully endorse National Mill Dog Rescue's application for a grant from the Lauretta Boyd Charitable Trust. NMDR has been designated an Alliance "partner," a formal acknowledgement of the organizations' mutual support. NMDR's founder and executive director, Theresa Strader, is a passionate and dedicated leader, who will -- without doubt -- make effective use of any grant funding.
Facilitator, Metro Denver Animal Welfare Alliance
Golden, CO 80403
October 2021 testimonial: I was blown away by the professionalism of this place and the the love that just emanated from the building. The people who work there are mostly volunteers and they love saving dogs from puppy mills. My adopted pet was a 2 year old Dachshund female who was slated for death because her uterus ruptured. Without NMDR, these dogs would be dead. They rescue so many mill dogs, it's mind boggling. The facilities are so clean, the dogs look so happy, the people there are full of joy and love. They truly care about each and every dog they rescue.
July 2020 testimonial: We've adopted 2 dogs from NMDR and feel so lucky! What a great organization to work with! They were very thorough in making sure that we were a good home for our pups, and helped us find a pup that was a good match for our family as well as for our other dog. We are so grateful that they rescued our pups, and we have been so blessed!
May 2019 testimonial: National Mill Dog Rescue has been a favorite of mine ever since they started on Facebook. Their hard work and dedication is second to none. Theresa and her crew are wonderful and I would like to thank them all, including those who work behind the scenes, i.e. poop scoopers, cage cleaners, laundry duty, dog walkers, etc.! Their smiling faces as they unload these poor, defenseless doggies are such a blessing. They have grown in leaps and bounds and no wonder!! They deserve all the praise and help we can give them. God bless each and every one of them. -- General member of the public
July 2020 testimonial: I have been a volunteer with NMDR for almost 3 years. I have fostered many dogs during that time. After volunteering for several other rescues, I am very impressed with the work that NMDR does to rescue and rehabilitate dog who have been traumatized by living in puppy mills. Everyone, from Theresa Strader, the folks who groom, supervise the kennels, work on the rehab team, etc. are passionate about the work they do provide the very best care they can for the dogs they rescue. The kennels are clean, the dogs are exercised daily, volunteers work to socialize the dogs, and all medical needs are met. Adopters are well matched to potential dogs and fosters are well supported by NMDR. I highly recommend this nonprofit. -- Robin Kronberg
May 2019 testimonial: My family volunteers here and we have rescued 4 furry family members and counting. They do amazing things for commercial breeding survivors, education, rehabilitation - and my soul. -- Jamye H.
National Mill Dog Rescue was established in 2007 in honor of a forgiving, courageous Italian greyhound named Lily. For seven years, 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.
After four decades of using dogs for profit, Lily's breeder retired. Lily, along with 560 other dogs from her mill, headed to auction.
Lifelong rescuer Theresa Strader responded to a plea to help rescue as many of the dogs as possible. She recalls: "On Feb. 7, 2007, I arrived at the auction and entered a building where about 100 dogs were housed. I'd never seen a dog auction before; and, within moments, much like the dogs in front of me, I was overcome with sadness and despair.
"It was in this dismal, putrid place that I laid eyes on Lily. She was plastered in the back of her cage with an auction tag around her neck. Her lower jaw had rotted away; she was riddled with mammary tumors, and she was absolutely terrified.
"As I quietly approached her cage, our eyes met and I whispered this promise: 'I will not leave without you. I will take you from this hell and love you until you die.'"
In that moment, National Mill Dog Rescue was born. Strader returned home with Lily, a dozen other dogs, and an unwavering passion to make a lasting difference for the dogs held captive by this industry.