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Jun 19, 2011 12:11 AM by Matt Stafford

Local dog rescue group gets a quarter-million dollar gift

The new truck given to National Mill Dog Rescue, based out of Peyton, means almost too much to put into words.

"It's so much better than the way we did it; I mean we rescued 5,000 the other way and it was hard," says Theresa Strader, director of National Mill Dog Rescue. The other way was a 1980s RV, with cages tied together inside.

"It ran on duct tape and bailing wire," says Darrell Rhodes, who's been volunteering for the non-profit for the last three years. Rhodes has done a lot of the driving on regular trips they make across the country, rescuing dogs from what they call "puppy mills". Many of the dogs come from breeders who have had issues with their state on the living conditions the dogs are in.

Now the non-profit has a new truck for their missions.

"It's the Hilton, it's the Hilton for our dogs," says Strader, as she shows NF5 one dog that just made the trip to Peyton -- named Harrison.

"He's got a lot of space, he's got open air and light, it's very easy for me to get to him because we have all this room; I mean it's a completely different ride for these dogs," says Strader.

The truck was custom built for moving dogs; North Shore Animal League America, based out of New York, has seven of them. They've been working with National Mill Dog Rescue, so they decided to give them a truck so they can increase their work together.

"The mobile unit can cost up to $250,000" explains Devera Lynn, a representative of North Shore Animal League America who helped bring out the truck.

"We certainly don't have that," says Strader, acknowledging that without the help it would have been next to impossible for them to get a truck that nice.

However the new truck wasn't the whole deal; remember Darrell Rhodes, the volunteer driver? Now he's no longer a volunteer. Rhodes was hired to be the new truck's driver.

"It's a great feeling!" says Rhodes, he's not just excited about getting a paycheck for his work; he knows how much the new truck will help.

"The Achilles' heel has always been transport," says Rhodes. "We fixed that problem."

Now it's just time for Rhodes to hit the road in the new wheels.

You can see the new truck in action for yourself on Sunday, June 18th, in the parking lot of the Whole Foods Market off of Powers Blvd. The truck will be there from noon until 5 p.m. trying to find homes for dogs that they've rescued.

For more information, click here.

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