BBS Rescue Spotlight: National Mill Dog Rescue

National Mill Dog Rescue recently received a donation from We always love learning more about the rescues we donate to and sharing their stories with our customers and fans. We are grateful for National Mill Dog Rescue’s experience and the care and love they pour out on dogs. Keep reading for more about National Mill Dog Rescue, their beginnings, their inspiration and their successes.

When & Why did you start?


National Mill Dog Rescue was established in February 2007, in honor of a forgiving little Italian Greyhound named Lily. Theresa Strader, NMDR’s Founder and Executive Director, rescued Lily from a dog auction in Missouri. Prior to that day, Lily had spent the first seven years of her life as a commercial breeding dog, a puppy mill mom. Determined that her years of living in misery would not be in vain, Strader started NMDR, giving a voice to mill dogs across the country.

During her years as a breeding dog, Lily 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.

By seven years of age, Lily was worn out. Commonplace in the industry, she had received little to no veterinary care throughout her life, the result of which, for her, was terribly disturbing. Due to years of no dental care, poor quality food, rabbit bottle watering and no appropriate chew toys, the roof of Lily’s mouth and lower jaw, had rotted away. Her chest was riddled with mammary tumors and she was absolutely terrified of people.

Strader brought Lily and twelve others home from the auction and declares that even for a highly seasoned rescuer, the following months were the education of a lifetime in rehabilitation. That she would take up the cause for the mill dogs was never in question and National Mill Dog Rescue was promptly underway. IIn six years, NMDR has rescued more than 8,700 puppy mill survivors.

Run almost solely by volunteers, NMDR has pledged to put an end to the cruelty of the puppy mill industry. Through widespread informative efforts, NMDR hopes to educate the public to acquire their companion animals through reputable breeders or better yet, from shelters and rescue groups across the country.

After her rescue, Lily spent the remainder of her life as a beloved member of the Strader family where she received medical care, warmth and companionship. In time, Lily found courage and her disfigured little body educated countless people about the horrors of the puppy mill industry. Lily died, at home, peacefully, in the arms of her loving dad with her family gathered around, in May 2008, fifteen months after she was rescued.

What’s different about your rescue?

Our organization rescues, rehabilitates, and rehomes discarded commercial breeding dogs as well as educate the public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.

National Mill Dog Rescue

What is the greatest success story or “win” that your rescue has had?

Lily was born, raised and perhaps had 13 litters of puppies at the Reedgate Kennels before we were able to buy her at auction. Her time there was spent in a wire cage with a board to sleep on and a rabbit water bottle to drink from. While in the mill she received little or no vet care and because of this she lost all her teeth and her lower jaw rotted off, which is not unusual for the smaller breeds in the puppy mills. Everything that was precious to her was taken away (her puppies). The human hand brought only misery.  She was loved until she passed away 15 months after being rescued.

What’s the most rewarding thing about working at your rescue?

Seeing dogs who have known nothing but the ‘cage’ their entire lives, blossom & grow into a beloved pet.


What can people do to help your rescue?

Donate – as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit, we rely solely on the generosity of our supporters to continue our mission.  Veterinary care is an enormous expense when rescuing mill dogs. A typical retired “breeder dog” is 5-7 years old, has spent its entire life in a small filthy wire cage, has been bred literally almost to death, and in most cases has never received any veterinary care. Upon rescue, we see a wide variety of illnesses and injuries, some are life-threatening.  Each rescue trip typically costs $2,500.

BestBullySticks says Thank-You to National Mill Dog Rescue for your hard work and efforts in saving dogs. We sincerely admire and are proud to support National Mill Dog Rescue. For more information visit National Mill Dog Rescue website or follow National Mill Dog Rescue’s Facebook page.

To read more inspiring stories, browse all of BestBullySticks Rescue Spotlights.

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