Critical care expenses on the rise for pet rescue non-profit agencies

Fur Fun Rescue Inc.

Southern, a 15-month-old red bone hound, receives an examination from Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital.
Fur Fun Rescue Inc. Southern, a 15-month-old red bone hound, receives an examination from Wisconsin Veterinary Teaching Hospital.

CEDAR RAPIDS — Southern, an underweight, 15-month-old Red Bone Hound, hasn’t had an easy first year of life.

He’s a transplant from Topeka, Kan., who was brought to Fur Fun Rescue in Lisbon last July in hopes of receiving treatment for a heart condition. Southern was born with Patent Ductus Arteriosus — his heart duct didn’t close after birth and it prevented blood flow. In November, he finally received the needed heart surgery at the University of Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital and is now up to 74 pounds with his foster family.

Poseidon, an 8 month-old Pitbull puppy, is like Southern, lucky to be alive, or as Jan Erceg, medical coordinator at Critter Crusaders in Cedar Rapids, said, it was nothing short of a “Christmas miracle.” Poseidon was attacked by another dog and in need of critical care. He was transferred to the Eastern Iowa Veterinary Specialty Center to receive life-saving blood transfusions. Poseidon had gaping wounds on his head, neck, front limbs and shoulders. He also has damage to his esophagus and may have nerve damage.

Southern and Poseidon are just two of the critical care cases these two area rescue organizations handled in 2017. Surgeries and treatment for just these two animals totaled over $11,000 so far. Both organizations, who rely on donations and fundraisers, saw an uptick in critical care expenses in 2017, and officials expect it to continue this year.

Roxanne Hoover, director of Fur Fun Rescue in Lisbon, said the medical bills last month were $35,000, which is unusual, but they had 14 dogs treated for heartworm, three back surgeries, and Southern’s heart surgery and treatment.

Some of the critical care expenses last year included 35 animals they rescued from Arkansas and Texas, as a result of Hurricane Harvey, Hoover said. They still have three from Arkansas and one from Texas in foster homes waiting for adoption. Overall, the rescue had about 300 dogs and cats adopted last year.

“Our usual medical bills are about $6,000 to $9,000 a month,” Hoover said. “It’s a tough time for donations after Christmas.”


Erceg said Critter Crusaders recently had five critical cases in five weeks, which is more than usual and totaled over $18,000 in medical expenses so far, but many of these animals, including Poseidon, will need further surgeries and treatment.

Critters had a recent tragedy when they lost “Lone Survivor,” a 6-weeks-old German Shepherd/Lab mix, who survived a shed fire caused by a heat lamp on Jan. 6, Erceg said. Her parents and seven siblings all died. Lone Survivor was found outside the shed, buried under debris.

Erceg said she thought the puppy, who had respiratory problems from smoke inhalation and severe burns all over her body, was going to make it, but she couldn’t survive the injuries. She was suffering and they had to euthanize her, Erceg said.

They also had another recent, unusual critical case of a cat that was trapped and lodged in a car engine, but it had a happy ending, Erceg said. The driver of the car didn’t know the cat was in the engine and went miles before it could escape, but not before it suffered severe burns. One of the cat’s front legs had to be amputated, but he’s doing well and ready for adoption.

“Last year was our busiest,” Erceg, a former paramedic specialist for Area Ambulance, said. “We saw a major trend in emergency and traumatic cases. We treated well over 100 this year and had animals needing about 417 surgeries and other diagnostic procedures.”

Anyone wanting to donate to these two organizations can send to:

Fur Fun Rescue Inc.

229 Badger Road

Lisbon, Iowa 52253

Or go to website to donate -

Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids

P.O. Box 10111

Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52410-0111

Or go to website to donate -

l Comments: (319) 398-8318;



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