Nationally renowned dog rescue accused of retrieving puppies from pet store


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PEYTON, Colo .– Critics have said National Mill Dog Rescue collected puppies from a Kansas pet store and misled the public about the conditions inside some of the breeding establishments it works with.

National Mill Dog Rescue is a nationally recognized nonprofit based in Peyton, on the Eastern Plains east of Colorado Springs. Since its inception in 2007, the rescue has said it has rehoused more than 14,000 dogs, with adoption fees ranging from $ 200 to $ 350.

In 2018, the rescue generated $ 2,345,117 in total revenue, down from 2017 when it generated $ 2,999,439 in total revenue.

In October, a FOX31 Problem Solvers investigation reported on a state investigation into National Mill Dog Rescue and its founder Theresa Strader. Investigators cited the nonprofit for committing critical violations that could lead to infectious disease across state lines. The state said the rescue had failed to collect the proper documents for the dogs it had transported in the state, although it had previously been warned to change its habits. The state also discovered that Strader had vaccinated several animals, even though she was not a veterinarian. National Mill Dog Rescue is currently on probation and could lose his license if he commits another offense during his one-year probation.

Jene Nelson used to handle social media and marketing for the nonprofit and has now spoken out about the issues inside the facility.

“It was an organization that meant a lot to me. I worked with my heart even before I was employed and I’m sorry to some extent for knowing that, ”Nelson said.

According to its website, National Mill Dog Rescue’s mission is to “rescue, rehabilitate and resettle abandoned breeding dogs.” Nelson said she wondered why a rescue focused on “retired breeding dogs” would help a pet store by getting its unwanted puppies back.

Nelson said she first realized what was happening when they pulled over on a rescue mission.

“Theresa told me to stay in the van. She said, “Don’t go out. I looked on GPS to see where we were and we were in a pet store. And again, the big mantra is “adopt, don’t shop”. And we were actually in a pet store, ”Nelson said.

The owner of Dorothy’s Pet Shop in Junction City, Kansas, told Problem Solvers that she gave Strader unwanted puppies. Dorothy Stewart’s breeding establishment was a repeat offender on the Humane Society’s Horrible 100 list, a list of the worst breeders in the United States according to USDA inspection reports. The Problem Solvers asked Stewart about the violations. Stewart said she had made improvements to the facility, but her facility was still on the Humane Society’s 2019 report.

The Problem Solvers found two cases of dogs listed on Dorothy’s Pet Shop’s Facebook page reappearing months later at National Mill Dog Rescue. Stewart told FOX31 that she can’t remember how many unwanted dogs she passed on to Strader.

In a video shared with FOX31, Strader asks a dog “How didn’t you sell? “

Strader would not answer Problem Solvers questions when receiving dogs from a pet store.

In addition to pit stops in a pet store, Nelson wonders about the history of dogs “saved” by the association.

Nelson said the breeding dogs that came in were in poor condition. However, she said the breeding industry has changed over the years and conditions have improved for many dogs and puppies that the nonprofit is now relocating.

“Are there breeders who are bad breeders? Yes! I’m just not sure those are the ones she’s dealing with anymore, ”said Nelson.

In 2017, FOX31 aired a story with National Mill Dog Rescue about a group of German Shepherds he had recently acquired. During an interview, Strader said the conditions the dogs lived in were some of the worst she had ever seen.

“You see a lot of different horrible things that most people wouldn’t want to see, but it was some of the worst,” Strader said.

She said the animals lived in an unprotected field and in total filth. Dog owner Scott Worthing said Strader’s description fell far short of reality. He said he was shocked by the misinformation being released to the public.

“Someone said to me, ‘You better watch this [story]. ‘ And she trashed us like you wouldn’t believe, ”Worthing said.

Worthing spent years raising German Shepherds, some even ended up in first responder units in Colorado and Florida. Worthing said his animals were well cared for and loved, living in a heated kennel or in his home.

Worthing’s health began to deteriorate due to his decades-long battle with Crohn’s disease. As medical bills started to rise, he said he moved into a bus. However, he said the dogs were never touched, that they continued to live inside the heated indoor kennel with plenty of opportunities to play outside of the farm as well as vet care.

When Worthing doctors asked him to move to Denver, he said he worked with his vet to find new homes for the dogs. He said the research led to Strader with National Mill Dog Rescue.

“I was just happy to have someone to take care of my dogs,” Worthing said.

Prior to the meeting, Worthing said he took the dogs to play in a pond and get their energy back before the long ride in the rescue van. Worthing said he couldn’t believe Strader would later tell the public that the dogs lived in the field near the pond.

“These were outside in the elements, barely able to stand in the crates they were in and totally filthy,” Strader said in 2017 in an interview with FOX31.

Worthing said he was furious and helpless.

“I had to give up because it was eating me away,” Worthing said.

He said the only thing that gives him peace of mind is knowing that his dogs are happy.

“I think dogs have good homes. Hope they did, ”Worthing said.

Strader told FOX31 that she will not be interviewing Scott Worthing’s breeding facility or answering any questions about the conditions inside the breeding facilities she works with.


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