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With the past couple posts we have been leading up to our conversation with Andrew Wilson, director of development at the National Mill Dog Rescue in our own backyard, Colorado. The National Mill Dog Rescue is a 501c3 non-profit organization whose mission is to rescue puppy mill dogs and educate the public about this industry. They receive no federal or state funding. All of the care provided to the rescued dogs comes from volunteers, individual contributions and a few grants.
In 2007 founder, Theresa Strader, received an email in her inbox stating, “50 Italian Greyhounds in need” from a large-scale commercial breeding operation (puppy mill) that was closing down and the dogs were going to auction. Yep. They actually have auctions for breeding dogs. A little Italian Greyhound, Lily, was among them. Once Theresa met Lily, it was all over but the shouting. She knew her life had a new purpose and this was it: to give a voice to mill dogs everywhere, bringing education to the public about pet store puppies (most of which come from puppy mills) and save the lives of as many dogs as possible. So in 2007 she formed the National Mill Dog Rescue and has since rescued over 13,000 dogs from the terrible environments we have been describing.
Some are relinquished by owners, some are strays; others come from large-scale commercial breeders with whom National Mill Dog Rescue has formed relationships. They are often notified by the breeders when they are ready to dispose of dogs in their stock and Theresa and her team go rescue them. Many other dogs like Lily come from auction.
Most auctions are in the Midwest with Oklahoma being one of the largest. Towards the end of the day, any dogs not sold and who would be destroyed are then rescued.
They may be puppies with something wrong with them, either cosmetically or medically. Older females who are bred continually and are at the end of their useful breeding years are a big candidate for auction. When we say continually, we mean every 6 months with 2 months in between pregnancies. They also see males who are deemed no longer useful for breeding.
We discussed some of the medical issues in the previous blog. Add to those a condition known as splayed feet. This condition is just what it sounds like and occurs due to living on a wire floor and adapting to that environment. Not only do the adults have a problem with this; but the puppies do as well. “Splayed feet” is just the beginning. That condition leads to joint, hip and knee issues as well as arthritis if not addressed.
In many states heartworm is a threat seen in many of these dogs when they are rescued. Spread by mosquitos, this disease can be fatal if not treated. How much is the treatment, you ask? It’s $4,000-$6,000. National Mill Dog Rescue takes care of the treatment when the dogs are rescued. Did we mention they receive no federal or state funding?
Pixie’s rescue featured on The Dodo
The folks at National Mill Dog Rescue go to work and the dogs’ lives begin anew. Upon intake, dogs are given a name. It seems simple; but they go their entire lives without a name. Why would they need one when they are only considered stock and not part of a family, right? So, a name is given. They get groomed, many of them for the first time. Mats and years of filth are washed away. Pixie shown above is an example of the condition of many of these dogs when the rescue team arrives. The veterinary staff treats each dog according to their needs and they are spayed or neutered. Part of that treatment is a good solid dental cleaning, again, probably for the first time. Volunteers then work with the dog according to their needs, give them fresh water, nutritious meals, a soft bed, toys and the love, touch and attention of a caring person. Not too much to ask in our book. The good people here also leash and potty train to the best of their abilities to help get the dogs ready for their forever homes.
Dogs will typically stay for 1-2 months before being made available for adoption if found to be healthy and behaving normally. They may get a longer stay, 6-12 months, if there are more issues to address.
What they want you to know is that these dogs are so very resilient. They fight through their past and come to be loving pets for their new families. They are not broken. Please do your research and consider adopting a puppy mill dog rather than going to a pet store. Each week we are featuring dogs on our Facebook page that are ready for their forever homes. Be sure to keep an eye out there for your next best buddy or just go to National Mill Dog Rescue’s website to view the whole gang. Next time we will chat about adoption, foster and other opportunities to help this amazing organization. Until then, have you considered adopting a rescue dog? Why or why not? Let us know!