In the past 10 years as executive director of the National Mill Dog Rescue, Theresa Strader has undoubtedly met a lot of puppy mill survivors — more than 12,000, to be exact.
Strader’s circle grew by 107 this past weekend, when she and a team of dedicated volunteers hit the road in all different directions to save dogs being surrendered by puppy mill breeders. Three separate vans left rescue headquarters in Colorado and drove a combined 5,000 miles through the midwestern Dust Bowl states to stop at 18 different mills along the way.
The majority of rescues over the course of the weekend were senior dogs, who had lived their entire lives in cages at the mills, having litter after litter of puppies to be sold to pet stores or private buyers. When dogs reach the age where they’re no longer able to produce puppies, Strader said, mill owners will often kill them since they’re not a source of profit for their businesses.