PEYTON, Colo. -- A Colorado nonprofit is celebrating a major milestone.
National Mill Dog Rescue in Peyton turned 10 years old this month and it celebrated the way it always does, by rescuing dozens of dogs from puppy mills throughout the Midwest.
Theresa Strader founded the organization. Over the years, she's been able to convince about 200 commercial breeders across the country to call her when they have dogs they no longer want.
"Without us, they would have no future. Once their productivity is done they're usually killed at that point," Strader said.
About 90 percent of National Mill Dog Rescue's staff is volunteers.
When the phone rings, Strader and her team of volunteers pack their bags and hit the highway, often traveling thousands of miles to states like Arkansas and Missouri where puppy mils are abundant.
However, she knows she can't save them all.
"When we leave a place and we leave maybe 50 to 100, 500 dogs behind, it's hard. I just look at them and say we'll be back for them," Strader said.
National Mill Dog Rescue has saved more than 11,000 dogs over the past 10 years.
A little poodle now living in Denver is one of them. Tasha Eurich named the dog Freddy after seeing her on Facebook.
"I literally saw her and I can't explain it, but I said that's my dog," Eurich said.
However, Freddy didn't warm up to Tasha quite as fast. In fact, for months she trusted no one.
"She spent about two or three months in a state of constant fear or anxiety. You have no concept of that, and so it's really just a process," Eurich said.
Freddy came with a lot of baggage.
"She didn't know what stairs were. She didn't know what outside was. She had no concept of that, and so it's really just a process," she said.
However, it's also been a rewarding process. Just recently, Freddy had a breakthrough and played with a toy for the first time.
"My husband and I were looking at her almost crying, and we got it on camera. Those moments are what make it so, so rewarding," Eurich said.
That's why Strader said she's made saving dogs her life's purpose. She's helping wash away the past, while restoring hope and saving lives.
"It's worth every minute, every second, because I know what's coming for these dogs," said Strader. "It's the most rewarding thing in the world. It defines labor of love."