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DE SOTO, Iowa — Pets in animal shelters may need a little TLC, but you’ll find they still have a lot of love to give. Rocket is living his best life after coming to AHeinz57 with some serious health problems.

“You just wonder if he knows how lucky he is.  Number 1 that he’s alive and number 2 that he’s walking,” said Amy Heinz of AHeinz57 Pet Rescue & Transport.

Earlier this year, Heinz got a frantic call after Rocket’s owners had to give him up. 

“This 3-year-old beautiful Anatolian shepherd was going to be euthanized because the owners couldn’t afford the $15,000 to make him walk again because he just became paralyzed in his back legs,” she explained.

The shelter didn’t have the money either.  That’s when Critter Crusaders stepped in to save the day and Rocket’s life.

“Rocket’s care was extremely expensive and we don’t pass any fees on to the shelters or rescues,” said Jan Erceg with Critter Crusaders.

The Cedar Rapids-based group raised the money to cover his surgery and ongoing care.  AHeinz57 is one of the dozens of rescues and shelters across the state they help.

“We really act as a safety net for shelters and rescues throughout Iowa.  I kind of liken it, The United Way for animal world,” explained Erceg.

This spring, Rocket underwent surgery to remove a tumor from his spine.  He was walking the next day.

“It was incredible and then he had to go to the University of Wisconsin for the radiation and the rest of the care he needed,” said Heinz.

Today, Rocket is still a little wobbly on his back legs, but it doesn’t slow him down.  You really have to look closely to see any noticeable signs of his surgery.

Saved once already, the hope is that his luck continues.

“He’s only three so he has a lot of life left in him and he really needs a home,” said Heinz.

Sadly, we learned that Rocket’s cancer has likely returned.  The good news is that he’s expected to be adopted by one of his caretakers at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

You’ll find plenty of pets in need of new homes at

To learn more about Critter Crusaders, just go to