For the first seven years of her life, Lily had no room to run or play. No opportunity to socialize. No chance to care for the litters of puppies who were taken away from her. She never received the most basic care or treatment she deserved.
As a result, she had an infected uterus and mammary tumors. Her mouth was rotting and she was missing her entire lower jaw when she was bought at an auction by Theresa and Rich Strader after Theresa received an email about Italian Greyhounds in need. They took her in and changed not only her life, but the lives of thousands of other dogs after she inspired them to start the National Mill Dog Rescue.
Thanks to their efforts, nearly 8,000 dogs rescued from puppy mills have been saved and gone on to new homes to be part of a family, but now the rescue is helping its founders, volunteers and members of the community who were temporarily displaced or lost their homes in the Black Forest fire near Colorado Springs that began on June 11.
While the Strader family and their 15 dogs were able to safely evacuate, they are now living at the NMDR headquarters in Peyton, along with some volunteers, in RVs and trailers that have been donated to provide temporary housing for families who were evacuated or lost their homes.
“Some of these families are still waiting for news to know if their house is still standing and they need an incredible amount of support. I am so grateful that the NMDR community is able to provide not only a place to stay for these people and the animals they have dedicated their lives to caring for, but also the ongoing emotional support that they will need to move forward once things begin to stabilize,” said volunteer Rudi Taylor in a statement.
The rescue has also taken in an additional 40 dogs for people who were displaced by the fire – leaving them with a total of 140 dogs to care for.
While some will be able to return home, the Straders were not so lucky – their house is completely gone. On Tuesday the family tearfully visited what had been their home for 17 years, and the place where Lily was laid to rest. Still, despite the devastation, Theresa says she still feels “lucky.”
As the community works on rebuilding, NMDR supporters are raising funds to help the Straders rebuild their lives so they can get back to helping others. The statement on the fundraising page says it all:
As someone who doesn’t live an extravagant lifestyle, it’s difficult for Theresa to accept help and donations from others, usually she is the one giving the help. It is important to Theresa that everyone realize there are many families other than her own who have been displaced and affected by the fire, including several devoted NMDR volunteers who still do not know the fate of their homes. Helping the Strader family get back on their feet will allow Theresa to help others. It is important to Theresa to pay forward the kindness which she receives. That’s not too surprising, it’s just her nature.
So far, they’re a little over halfway to their goal. Meanwhile, NMDR is also in need of volunteers and foster homes to help with the dogs. Donations can be made to help the rescue here and info on helping the Straders directly can be found here. More info and updates can also be found on NMDR’s Facebook page.
Photo credit: National Mill Dog Rescue