116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — An 8-month-old American pit bull terrier puppy named Sox was rescued in June by Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control after a neighbor noticed he was tied up and in distress. Sox was tangled in his line and the chain around his neck became so tight he could barely breathe.
A local nonprofit rescue, Critter Crusaders of Cedar Rapids, stepped in to care for the pup and he was taken to the emergency veterinary hospital where he remained in critical care for several days. The medical bills ran onto the thousands, but Critter Crusaders was able secure a grant that helped cover some of the costs.
That grant came from the Friends Helping Friends Foundation — a local nonprofit organization founded to raise funds for the Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control shelter, and the first of its kind here.
Initiated in February, the organization’s animal welfare grant program was developed in collaboration with the Greater Cedar Rapids Community Foundation, and offers $2,500 grants to local nonprofits engaged in lifesaving animal welfare initiatives within the Cedar Rapids and Marion communities that directly or indirectly affect the ultimate success of Cedar Rapids Animal Care & Control.
“It was my idea to take some of the money that we had raised and, instead of letting it just sit in the bank and not really gain anything, we could take $50,000 and set that aside to create a grant program,” said Diane Webber, founder and treasurer of Friends Helping Friends. “That way, every quarter we can award $2,500 to local nonprofit for a special purpose or project, that meets certain criteria, and will also benefit the shelter.”
“So for instance, if an organization takes an animal that would otherwise have been turned over to the shelter, and it's injured and needs a lot of medical care over a period of time, obviously that's something the shelter can't handle because they need to have space for incoming and outgoing strays,” Webber added. “The animal shelter typically can't hold an animal in serious medical condition for a number of months, so, this is something that our grant program could help that organization with, and that’s we were able to help Critter Crusaders with Sox.”
Sox was found June 13 in severe respiratory distress and rushed to Blue Pearl Pet Hospital in Cedar Rapids where he was placed in a medically-induced coma and put on a ventilator for three days.
“In Critter Crusaders’ almost 14-year history, this is the fourth time we have had a dog on a ventilator, and Sox is the first of those four to survive,” Critter Crusaders posted on its Facebook page June 17 after Sox was taken off the ventilator. “We are so grateful to the doctors and staff at (Blue Pearl), and to all of you who sent prayers and donations. Our bill will be enormous … but we saved a life.”
According to a later post on the Critter Crusaders Facebook page, the bill for Sox’s care exceeded $8,000.
The pup has since fully-recovered and is now neutered and vaccinated and available for adoption through Last Hope Animal Rescue, another nonprofit animal rescue organization.
“We just want to help save as many lives as we can,” Webber said. “And the fact that we could offer some help to Critter Crusaders and support their efforts with Sox is just one example of how we can help, and it helps the shelter, too, which is our goal.”
Webber, former Animal Care & Control program director from 2009 to 2019, founded the Friends Helping Friends Foundation in 2012 as the city was preparing to build a new animal shelter facility.
“Up until that point, we had been housed in a temporary warehouse facility … over there on the northeast side,” Webber said. “And there were a lot of things we were discovering that we would like to have incorporated into the new shelter … that we just were not going to be able to afford under the city's budget.”
Things like equipment needed to outfit the new shelter’s surgery suite or the large dog exercise area behind the shelter of the large cat rooms in the front of the shelter, Webber said, that weren’t going to fit within the shelter construction’s budget.
“So that was the initial idea for the foundation, and from there it just gradually grew over the years to provide more of the specialized care and more amenities for the animals that just isn't covered in the city budget,” Webber said.
Since its founding, the foundation has raised more than $400,000 to support the shelter and improve the lives of the animals it houses, Webber said. Most of that money, she said, has been raised through annual fundraising events like the Paws in the Park Dog Walk that is happening this year from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. Oct. 23 at Noelridge Park.
The event will feature roughly a mile walk on the park’s trail, a dog costume contest, food trucks and vendors and organizations connected to animal welfare efforts.
“It’s pretty much just a nice day in the park with your dog,” Webber said.
Comments: (319) 398-8238; firstname.lastname@example.org.