Born in Freedom – the story of puppy mill survivor Matilda and her 6 puppies born into freedom

From National Mill Dog Rescue, their mission is to rescue, rehabilitate and rehome discarded breeding dogs and to educate the general public about the cruel realities of the commercial dog breeding industry.

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.

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