Helping recently rescued puppy-mill survivors learn to trust the kindness of the volunteers at National Mill Dog Rescue, aiding in their adjustment to life as a family pet.
We rescue more than 800 puppy-mill breeding dogs a year, lifting them out of miserable lives lived in cages with little or no human contact. As a result of their grave lack of socialization, these dogs must be given time and TLC to adjust to freedom. They may be so fearful at first that they will not permit any contact. The product supplied, Beggin’ Strips, helped us bridge the gap between total fear and positive interaction.
Seven-year-old Nimbus didn’t know how his life was about to change when he was rescued on Feb. 27 from a Midwest puppy mill and brought, along with 114 other dogs, to National Mill Dog Rescue’s Peyton, Colo., headquarters. Nimbus had been a breeding dog for most of his life, but he was no longer profitable to the mill owner, and so, one way or another, he had to go. Thanks to the delicate relationships National Mill Dog Rescue Executive Director Theresa Strader has built with about 150 commercial breeders, tiny Nimbus got a chance for a whole new life. The mill owner contacted Strader in January to see whether she would take Nimbus and several other dogs off his hands. Strader didn’t hesitate because, when a mill dog’s time is up, getting there is literally a matter of life and death.
Nimbus was part of one of the largest rescue efforts in the organization’s 9-year history. Dubbed Hearts2Hearts, the trip covered 1,800 miles in 56 hours through three states, with three rescue vehicles and a team of nine experienced rescuers.
Strader led this latest run, as she so often does, and she oversaw the dogs’ care and treatment post-arrival at Lily’s Haven, the spacious NMDR kennel facility. She filed this report on March 12:
“It’s been two weeks since we returned from our big rescue. We’ve been very busy getting all the dogs medically evaluated and treated, groomed and settled into a whole new routine. As usual, we’ve uncovered a host of medical conditions that not only make us sad and angry but keep us very focused on our mission and the desperate need to make puppy mills a dark part of America’s history.
“The following is a list of conditions our veterinary team found in this group of dogs: severe dental disease, broken and/or decaying jaws, dry eye, ear infections, orthopedic diseases, mange, cherry eye, hernias, luxating patellas, cataracts, eye infections, blindness, skin infections, injuries/wounds, foot lesions, pyometra, mammary tumors, heart murmurs, neurological disorders, respiratory illnesses, alopecia, severe matting of fur, fleas and ticks, internal parasites and a variety of congenital defects. After doing the math, 95 percent of our new arrivals are suffering from one or more of these conditions.
“In addition to the care we provide at our own veterinary clinic, we’ve taken 21 of these dogs to local private-practice veterinarians for additional care: x-rays, blood work, ultrasounds or echocardiograms, specialist evaluations or emergency care.
“Unfortunately, there is nothing new or unusual with this group of dogs. It is so deeply disheartening to see them in such horrible condition, an utter betrayal of the human-animal bond. There is so much work yet to be done to abolish this cruelty.
“Despite these deplorable conditions, the vast majority of the dogs greet us with resilient and forgiving spirits, wagging their tails, kissing our hands and accepting our touch. As ever, a few will take more time to find their courage, but over time, we will make all of them well and prepare them for the life they’ve always deserved.
“Although the work we do each day is physically and emotionally exhausting, we are truly some of the most rewarded people on the planet. The indomitable spirit of the mill dogs gives us strength, and knowing that one day their person will come for them keeps us hopeful. We are as determined today as we have ever been to be their voice and to bring about lasting change.”