116 3rd St SE
Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
CEDAR RAPIDS — Jan Erceg, who works for a Cedar Rapids animal rescue nonprofit, on Thursday recalled the day she received a call about a severely injured, 12-week-old golden retriever puppy.
Erceg, in a victim impact statement, said the actions of this “single violent act” that Jayden Cliff took against Kimble has stayed in her head for the last 50 days.
During Cliff’s sentencing on an animal abuse charge, Erceg, founder and medical coordinator of Critter Crusaders, said she had “glimmers of hope” for Cliff because he contacted a woman to get help for Kimble after he threw the puppy against the wall and kicked it on April 1.
“I firmly believe that Jayden Cliff was horrified by his own actions,” Erceg said.
Cliff, 22, of Cedar Rapids, told the judge he was remorseful. He apologized and took responsibility for his actions.
Sixth Judicial Associate District Judge Angie Johnston sentenced Cliff to the maximum prison term of two years for the aggravated misdemeanor.
After sentencing, Assistant Linn County Attorney Jennifer Erger, said the abuse was a “horrendous” case and she was glad it received attention from the public. She said she pushed for a prison term and wasn’t willing to offer a plea deal for a lesser sentence.
“I received so many emails and letters about this case,” Erger said. “I wanted people to know I was taking this seriously. I hope it will be a deterrent for others.”
Police said Cliff grabbed the puppy by the scruff of the neck and threw it against the wall for defecating on the bed and then kicked it when it continued to defecate on the floor.
Cliff was identified as a suspect in tips from the public and arrested about a week after the dog was injured.
After receiving the call about the dog, Erceg had Kimble taken to Blue Pearl Pet Hospital for treatment and contacted Cedar Rapids Animal and Control to investigate.
Kimble had his right front and back leg broken and bones in his right front paw were crushed. The front leg and paw injuries affected the puppy’s growth and the leg will be shorter than the others, Erceg said.
Erceg said Kimble, now about 5 months old, was recently released for full activity “to be a puppy.”
Kimble remains at his foster home with Dogs Forever, a shelter in Cedar Rapids. Erceg said a number of callers are asking to adopt the dog, which Dogs Forever will handle.
Critter Crusaders raised $15,000 through social media fundraisers to pay Kimble’s medical bills — more than enough for the surgery. Remaining funds will go to other animals with medical needs at the rescue.
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