The Story of How Critter Crusaders was Founded


In Feb 2008, a two year old Siberian Husky named Ellie, was surrendered to the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter by her owner. Going blind from cataracts, the shelter was unable to afford the medical procedure that would restore her sight and make her adoptable. Ellie’s plight became our inspiration.

As shelter volunteers, we interacted with Ellie and could see the bleak reality of her future.  She was one of countless other shelter animals in need of medical attention. Things became crystal clear to us. Homeless animals deserved access to medical care as a means to increase their adoptability and make them healthy. Our goal was set for Ellie. Raise the money and restore her sight. With the financial help of many generous people across Eastern Iowa, that goal was a success!

Ellie received sight saving surgery in Ames. After recuperating, she was adopted in May 2008 by a family from Omaha, NE.  On Friday, June 6th, 2008, Ellie and her family returned to Cedar Rapids to make an appearance at Grant Wood School to an all school assembly. They were there to say “Thank You” to the students who had helped raise funds for Ellie’s surgery.

One week later, on Friday, June 13th, the Cedar River crested in a catastrophic event that changed lives forever. Cedar Rapids and surrounding communities experienced an epic flood, which wiped out the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter and displaced hundreds of pets from their homes. That disaster strengthened our conviction to help our local homeless animals.

In February 2009, Triton, a 6-week-old puppy with a badly broken front leg, limped into the Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter. With the help of many doctors and a great foster family, we were able to facilitate a complex surgery that included growing new bone while in an external fixator device. From start to finish this was a 4 month commitment of time and resources, and once again the public responded to our request for financial help.

Our non-profit was first formed in the name of Friends of Cedar Rapids Animal Shelter. On March 19, 2009, we became an official 501c3. Later our name was officially changed to Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids on April 21, 2011.

Our role has greatly expanded over the years to include partnerships with local rescues and shelters in Eastern Iowa.  We are committed to assisting homeless, abused and neglected animals with advanced medical care that saves lives, mends broken bodies and restores health, happiness and adoptability.  A true second chance at life.

The commitment to form Critter Crusaders came from Ellie. The vision we had for her then, is the mission we continue today. One dog and one horrible time in Iowa’s history inspired us to succeed on behalf of all local homeless animals. We exist to provide the care they desperately need and deserve.

This is our passion!

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