Lilly’s Story from The National Mill Dog Rescue

Lilly’s Story reprinted with permission from The National Mill Dog Rescue



Sometimes it’s important to remind ourselves why we do what we do.Lily, wearing tag #251, crouched, suffering in a small wire cage at the auction. Breeding dogs were being sold to the highest bidder. Lily looked straight into Theresa’s ey…es that day and asked for help. Theresa purchased Lily and promised to “shower her with love until the day she died”. For the next 15 months Lily learned about being a dog. She learned about soft beds, belly rubs and rolling in the grass. But most importantly, Lily learned what love felt like. Despite surgeries and the best care possible, the 7 years of neglect at the puppy mill had taken its toll on her body. On May 13, 2008 Lily passed away. Theresa vowed, in Lily’s name, to take up the cause for the mill dogs and thus National Mill Dog Rescue was born. Please join us in our efforts. Share the story of Lily and the plight of mill dogs everywhere. Thank you.


Lily is the love and the light of my life. If you’ve ever had a special dog like Lily, then you will understand right away what I’m talking about. If you haven’t… read on.

Lilly and the wolfhound

When she came to me I took her to work everyday and she slept in the warmth of my Irish Wolfhound’s stomach. She slowly learned to trust and in seven months she would come to me to get on my lap! She now loves all humans as no one will ever hurt her again. As you can see from the picture on the right she has her silly moments and keeps a lookout so she won’t get caught.

Lilly in bed

Lily was born, raised and perhaps had 13 litters of puppies at the Reedgate Kennels before we were able to buy her at auction. Her time there was spent in a wire cage with a board to sleep on and a rabbit water bottle to drink from. While in the mill she received little or no vet care and because of this she lost all her teeth and her lower jaw rotted off, which is not unusual for the smaller breeds in the puppy mills. Everything that was precious to her was taken away (her puppies). The human hand brought only  misery.

Lily is my inspiration. She can teach anyone about love, courage and the ability to forgive. Unfortunately the cancer she acquired through years of neglect is now close to ending her life. I have promised her she will never be alone again and I will be with her at the end. To date she is responsible for saving over 7700  dogs as she is the inspiration and founder of MDRN.

Lily died in my arms May 13, 2008. She will be missed.

To all of Lily’s friends:

At 5:30 PM on Tuesday May 13, 2008, our little Miss Lily made her way to the Rainbow Bridge. Over the two days prior, the ever-present spark in her eyes faded and she had become so frail and weak, the abuses of her past finally catching up with her, surpassing her ability to keep up the fight. Tuesday evening our vet came to the house and helped her on her way. Rich and I buried her in a very quiet area in our back woods with Tasha and Molly and many of our dogs at our sides. Interestingly, the only moments of sunshine on an otherwise dreary day were right upon her grave as we laid her down. No surprise at all…. she loved the sunshine so much.

We are just devastated, especially my husband, who was Lily’s constant companion. Thank God we have a couple of rescue Iggy’s right now – despite that no dog could come close to replacing Lily, I think they will help fill the void a bit, strange little creatures that Iggy’s are.

When I think back to the day that I saw Lily crammed in the back of her cage at Reedgate Kennels, I whispered her a promise – “I will free you from this hell no matter what the cost and we will shower you with love until the day you die.” Our family can take pride in keeping every word of that promise, not knowing then what Lily would come to mean to so many people for so many reasons.

Lily was a serious dog, stripped of her ability to be a typically silly Italian Greyhound because during her first seven years of life she had no opportunity to move or socialize with what came to be her favorite thing in life – people. What she did find in herself in time though, was courage. When she found her courage, she let everyone know about it, climbing into the laps and arms of total strangers and sharing her very special love with everyone around her. No one walked away from Lily the same person. Her tiny, disfigured little self moved grown men to tears, many times. Over this past year, Lily and the story of her life educated hundreds of people about the plight of mill dogs and the realities of the commercial dog breeding industry. My husband believes that Lily is perhaps the most important dog in history (not that he is at all partial).

When Lily was rescued in February 2007, she suffered from several medical conditions. She had severe pyometria (infected uterus), several mammary tumors, and from years of no care her entire mouth was rotted to point that she was completely missing her lower jaw. The latter would prove to become life threatening as it eventually led to cancer. Lily was so brave through four surgeries and unspeakable amounts of pain as we worked so hard to improve the quality of her life. Unfortunately, the years of no care won over and we were unable to give her more than just over a year in our home. However, during this past year Lily knew nothing but love and she was truly a treasure in our home. She will always be “one of those dogs”, one you can never seem to let go of, one whose face you can see simply because you want to. To our family, Lily has made us stronger, kinder people and our world a better place to be.

We will continue the fight in Lily’s name to bring about permanent change in this criminal industry. Please join us in our efforts and tell everyone you know the story of Lily and the plight of mill dogs everywhere, as she continues to watch over them from the heavens.

Two of Lily’s friends have written poetry for her, please read it.

In Memory of Lily

She withstood her life of misery
Her cage was her domain
The hopelessness, the loneliness
She was a number with no name.

Her eyes had never glistened
No love, her heart had known
Her cries were never answered
Her doom was hers, alone.

Her body, torn and tattered
So weak, so thin and frail
Her small sweet face disfigured,
As she languished in her jail.

Like the others all around her
From neglect she lived in pain
Oh, humans void of heart and souls
Were surely those to blame.

Shrouded behind secrecy
They perpetuate their lies
The puppy mills breed misery
Kept hidden from our eyes.

Then breaking thru the darkness
An angel brought the light
Reaching down with kindness
To alleviate this plight.

And so a few were taken
To be given a new start
And a mission was now realized
From deep within a heart.

Discarded were the numbers,
Now Lily was her name
She was nurtured now and cared for
And the others, just the same.

She responded to the kindness
She was kissed upon her head
Each night as she lay sleeping
In her warm and cozy bed.

From beginnings that were tragic
Lily now embraced the love
But she would only stay a minute
She had lessons up above.

Her life brought inspiration
She taught her humans well
About courage and conviction
To save others from the hell.

Lily’s life had purpose
As she endured such strife and pain
She emerged with great forgiveness
Oh, her life was not in vain.

Now the cozy bed is empty
But Lily’s memory lingers still
And hundreds more will follow
…..Rescued from the mill.

Bari Mears
Copyright 2008


The National Mill Dog Rescue

Peyton, CO (east of Colorado Springs)

Toll free: (888) 495-DOGS
Local: (719) 495-7679
Media: (719) 445-6787
Sponsorships: (719) 445-6787
Grants/Foundations: (719) 495-7679
Donations: (719) 445-6787 Donation Page
Lost NMDR Dog: (719) 445-6787 Lost Dog Page
Relinquishing a Dog  (not NMDR dog) Please be aware we do not accept relinquished dogs.

3 Replies to “Lilly’s Story from The National Mill Dog Rescue”

  1. I dont understand how it would be legal to neglect a dog to that horrifying degree and then go on and auction it also. How were the sellers not prosecuted???

    1. It is because the USDA is not doing its job and protecting animals. You can help by writing your local, county, state and federal politicians and demand that they ban the sale of dogs and cats in stores. You can also help by educating everyone you meet, about the horrors of buying dogs from breeders and stores. Everyone should adopt from legitimate non profit rescues. Remember the AKC or American kennel club not only supports puppy mills, they promotes them, 80% of the AKC funds come from puppy mill registrations. Also another little known fact the NRA supports puppy mills and spends millions of dollars fighting laws that would reform or ban puppy mills.

We want to hear your thoughts.