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Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids

Providing Advanced Medical Care to Homeless Animals in Eastern Iowa

Help Repair Broken Lives

Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids

We are thrilled to announce that Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids has been selected as a participant for The Gazette Gives Back 2019!
The Gazette Gives Back supports local nonprofits with free advertising to increase awareness of the critical resources and services made available to our region. In 2018, over $500,000 in free advertising was provided through this program. We need your vote to receive our share of the free ads! Every Gazette subscriber has 5 votes and non-subscribers have 1 vote to support the GGB participant of their choice.
Voting takes place November 16-December 31. To vote click on www.thegazette.com/givesback.  Subscribers can login or register. Non-subscribers may go to the website and select “Not a Subscriber? You can still vote!” icon to participate.
Individuals unable to vote online may call in to The Gazette Customer Care (319-398-8333) or use the print ballots that will be available in the newspaper throughout the voting campaign.
Thank you for your support!

Norma is a new case through Cedar Valley Pit Bull Rescue and she is estimated to be 6 years old. Her face is one we can’t erase from our hearts and her plight speaks to us. We feel the need to do whatever we can to make her whole again.  She is a haunting reminder of why we do this work and we sometimes step off a cliff into the unknown as we tackle medical issues.

Norma is at IVRC Specialty Clinic in Des Moines. She is strong heart worm positive.  She also has the largest oral fistula (hole) in her upper palate that IVRC has ever seen.  This is a pathway for aspiration pneumonia and massive infection. Further tests will help determine if it’s from dental disease, a neoplastic disease or injury. As we formulate a treatment plan for her we need to be sure her heart can withstand anesthesia due to the worm infestation. Attempting to close it will take multiple surgeries and the failure rate can be daunting. Our hope is that we can start the surgical process and then begin to treat the heart worms. Her body will dictate how we proceed.

It is important for everyone to understand that dogs and cats have a very profound and intact will to survive.  If we were to ask if they prefer euthanasia, or have the chance to return to a better, healthier life, we know exactly what they would say.  CC has hundreds of happy, healthy alumni!  So onward we go down a long and bumpy road with Norma.  Although her body condition is extremely poor, the staff at IVRC talks about how incredibly sweet and grateful she is.  Her tail wags constantly and she is no doubt more comfortable now than she has been in a very long time.

Summer is a very slack time of year for donations, so two of our board members are donating to her medical bills right now. We always manage our donated funds with the utmost care and respect for our wonderful donors, supporters and well-wishers.  We will be asking for your help as Norma will be a very big case.  For now we ask for your help in sharing her story and look forward to the difference we can make in her life.
Posted 8/15/18



Critter Crusaders teamed with Cedar Valley Pit Bull Rescue to offer a wonderful family, plagued by their own significant medical troubles, an alternative to euthanasia for their dog Twilight.  It is still a mystery as to why this boy has zero muscles in his hind end and rear legs. Because of this, he has been forced to crawl on the ground, but he is very efficient at it! Dr. Matt Keller at EIVSC does not feel this is neurological as his reflexes are appropriate. Although he has only been with us a short time Twilight is doing great!   Foster mom Paula reports that Twilight is becoming stronger and can now actually support his weight for short periods of time. Fingers crossed for more good news as we travel the medical road side by side with this amazing dog!

Posted 6/12/18

Digit’s Fight for Life


On Sunday, May 27th, Critter Crusaders received a call for assistance with a very severe neglect/abuse case south of Cedar Rapids. This is a male Yorkie mix who was found in bad shape wandering alone. The local police department contacted Unleashed Animal Rescue. Critter Crusaders was then contacted to help with his medical care and he was rushed to Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center. This little guy has been named Digit. Little Digit we will do everything we possibly can to restore your health. We ask you to join “Team Digit” by sharing his story on your social media and making a donation for his care at https://www.gofundme.com/digitsfightforlife.  We thank all of you for your prayers, concern and support for sweet little Digit!
Posted 5/29/18

Digit Pupdate! Posted 6/12/18

Look at little Digit now! From a severe neglect/abuse case to an amazing turnaround! We still have a long way to go with his medical treatment and the doctors have not ruled out the insulin producing tumor somewhere in his pancreas, but he is thriving! Next up…his eye appointment at Animal Eye Consultants of Iowa! Digit is in foster care with Sue Hartung, through Fur Fun Rescue. You go Digit -Man!

For more details on his story and to make a donation for his continued medical care click on  https://www.gofundme.com/digitsfightforlife.

Another Emergency on Memorial Day!

On Memorial Day we received an urgent call from Eastern Iowa Vet Specialty Center to save a 7 month old kitty. The  kitty, (Knuckles) had eaten several hair bands causing a major abdominal obstruction, and was taken directly into abdominal surgery with Dr. Rhonda Aper. More to come on this young guy’s status. Many thanks to our friends at SAINTS Cat Rescue for accepting him into their organization.
Posted 5/30/18


Take a look at Rambler! Aka Superman! Rambler has had a leg amputation through CC and is chronically incontinent, so his very talented Last Hope foster mom Lois Richardson made him a diaper and matching bow tie! We will now refer to him as Tuxedo Man!

Posted 5/18/18


Zeke Update

May 9th is a big day for gorgeous black German, Shepherd Zeke! He will have his final set of x-rays at Frey Pet Hospital after knee surgery. Zeke was injured when struck by a vehicle on Ellis Blvd. NW in Cedar Rapids. Zeke was assisted by Critter Crusaders and our friends at the Cedar Rapids Shelter’s non-profit, Friends Helping Friends Foundation. Here he is pictured with “ brother Rex”


Justice Update

Do you remember Justice? She was the severely injured kitty who had been snared in a tube trap, then became lodged in a vehicle engine compartment as she tried to escape the pain of the trap. The vehicle was then driven many miles before she was discovered injured and severely burned by the heat of the engine. She was admitted to Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center through Critter Crusaders on November 22nd, 2017 with very dramatic multi system trauma. She underwent days of critical care and a front limb amputation. Fast forward her story…and a drum roll please…….JUSTICE is ADOPTED! Her new momma is Gina Ballestrasse-Ernster, a wonderful local business owner, animal advocate and well-known supporter of many animal organizations! While Gina followed Justice’s story and struggles, she knew she was meant to be her mom! Justice hit the kitty jackpot! Gina says she is quite shy but is a purring machine! We could not be happier for Justice, Gina and her new family! Congratulations!

Justice was the first animal in a string of very critical medical cases that we handled through the winter months of Nov, Dec, Jan, Feb and continue today! Justice survived and beat the odds.

A big shout out goes to a great friend, Tracy Belle from Wildthunder Rescue and Rehab in Independence. Justice was under her care at the time of the injury. Tracy contacted CC due to the severity of her injuries.


Do you remember Otis?

Otis was the kitten found barely alive on an extremely cold day in January and was taken directly to Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center through CC. He was hospitalized in critical care for many days with organ failure. We were unsure if he would survive, but we didn’t give up on him! Here are the before and after pictures of this beautiful little boy…Look at him now and how he has grown! He just finished his final appointment through CC. His adoption is being handled by our friends at Last Hope Rescue! He’s living large and in charge! From a very sick puddle of a kitten to a prince! The way it should be for every homeless pet.

Posted 6/12/18

A Boy’s Kindness

Critter Crusaders would like to thank a very special boy who stopped into Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center with his dad. Luke saved his money and wanted to help animals in need. He decided to donate his $50 to the Critter Crusaders animals hospitalized at EIVSC. Knuckles the kitty, who had emergency surgery and Digit the little Yorkie mix abuse case, both remain under care at EIVSC. This reaffirms our faith that a child’s kindness can be a beacon of hope for the future. Luke, you are a role model and a hero to Digit, Knuckles and Critter Crusaders. Your parents must be so proud. We are too!

Thank you Luke! ❤️🐾

Posted 5/30/18

A Very Special Memory

Many thanks to Jen Bentley, owner of the Donut Experiment for collecting $120 this month for Critter Crusaders. Jen does this every month in memory of CC’s Tina MacNaughton who passed away last November. Tina will never be forgotten.

Please visit Jen at her amazingly yummy shop at 5300 Fountains Dr. NE in Cedar Rapids.

Thanks Jen!

Posted 5/18/18



Lady Delilah has been doing fantabulous lately after scaring us to death with multiple daily seizures. This little gal suffered a head injury at 4 weeks of age but Dr. Kingus from Frey Pet Hospital has been right on top of Delilah’s medical issues. The addition of Zonisamide, another anti-seizure med has done the trick and we are now a little over two weeks seizure free! Delilah feels so much better too!


Look at Little Lola!

Lola came to CC in critical condition last fall. She changed owners 4 times in one day on Craigslist until the last adopter called us about a very sick pup!  She received emergency surgery and many weeks of treatment to save her life! Once returned to health, she was adopted through our friends at Fur Fun Rescue! Her former foster momma Sheryl sent us the photo and we are all doing a happy dance! Wow! She is up to 20lbs now and just thriving with her adopted family! This is why we do this work! Go little Lola!


Poseidon Update

What an adventurous journey we’ve had with this puppy Poseidon, from Cedar Valley Pit Bull Rescue.  He was critically injured in a dog attack, then became critically ill with complications from the attack. One complication was the huge esophageal strictures that formed and blocked him from swallowing.  He then had a state of the art self-inflating balloon esophageal tube inserted through the side of his neck. His foster mom Dr. Katelyn Marlowe at UW Madison inflated this balloon daily to flatten out the strictures without the use of anesthesia. This was good for Poseidon and ultimately saved CC over $800 per treatment cost.  The world renown Animal Medical Center in New York City developed this specialized e-tube and this was UW Madison’s first experience with it.  No doubt this will change the lives of pets all throughout the Midwest. Our little ground breaker Poseidon is living proof that it works! He is a rock star!

Poseidon has been very adventurous lately! He remains at UW Madison Veterinary Teaching Hospital with Katelyn and the stinker decided to chew a gastric tube out of his tummy that had been inserted during his e-tube surgery! Yikes! He is feeling sassy and frisky so the docs decided not to replace it. He is eating now but slowly with multiple meals and soft food. He has had a couple of regurgitation episodes but nothing like before. His esophagus is still healing. The “P” Man is on month 5 of ongoing treatment from his devastating dog attack injuries and it has been quite a ride! In his photo, Katelyn decided to get the boy something super tough to chew on and play with, besides a g-tube! His puppyhood is in full swing! This has been a truly amazing journey with one incredibly, resilient pup. He is a true warrior and survivor!  We thank you all for your support of this boy️!


In Loving Memory

On Thursday, November 9th Critter Crusaders suffered a devastating loss to our organization. Tina MacNaughton, suddenly passed away at age 44 from complications of cancer treatment. Her commitment to Critter Crusaders and the animal rescue world was amazing. Her death has left a hole in our hearts and in the animal rescue community. One that we will never be able to fill.

Tina became a volunteer with us in 2011. She served as Board Secretary from 2012- 2016 and organized multiple fund raisers over the years with the last one on August 5, 2017. She fostered multiple medically challenged dogs and several litters of kittens totaling 29 animals. The animals with medical conditions received their care through Critter Crusaders. Tina worked tirelessly caring for these medically challenged animals who suffered from conditions including cancer, meningitis, recovering from various surgeries, seizures, Cushing’s disease and blindness, until they were adopted. In usual Tina fashion, she did adopt two of the dogs herself.

Most of the animals she fostered came from Cedar Rapids Animal Care and Control. She began volunteering there in 2011. She recorded 4,264 hours of volunteer service which included organizing pet adoption events, animal transports for the shelter, adoption outreach events, was a volunteer orientation dog team member and helped at many fund-raising events.

In April 2013 Tina began transporting homeless dogs for PAWS – Pushin’ Another Waggin’ To Safety. Doing 18 transports until her last trip on Sept. 23, 2017, she saved the lives of 195 dogs and puppies transporting them over 2,213 miles to safe rescues and shelters. Sometimes driving two or three legs of the journey when no one else was available.

In July 2014, Tina was diagnosed with breast cancer. Despite the diagnosis, she didn’t slow down with the animal rescue work that was so important to her. She had courage and strength like no other, fighting the whole way, never feeling sorry for herself, never giving up, and always putting the needs of animals and humans ahead of her own. She saved the lives of hundreds of animals and inspired many during her lifetime. Tina’s last foster dog, Heike has since been adopted to his forever home.

Our hearts are broken with the loss of a friend and fellow volunteer. We take comfort in the knowledge that she awaits at the Rainbow Bridge for those pets we are unable to save. God speed Tina.

OUR MISSION “Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids exists to provide and guide lifesaving advanced medical care for homeless or stray animals. We offer this service to shelters and rescues in the area to reduce euthanasia numbers and restore broken lives.”

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Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids is a 501c3 non-profit all volunteer organization made up of a Board of Directors and volunteers that has been in operation since 2008.

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Until one has loved an animal, part of their soul remains unawakened.

Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids

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