Heroic Dog Saves Woman from Abuser, Incites Change in Shelter Policy

An abused woman refuses to enter a battered women’s shelter without the dog that saved her, prompting an important change in policy that will ensure safe harbor for battered women and their pets in the future.

When the Rose Brooks Center for women took in a domestic violence victim and her heroic dog, they bent the rules in doing so, setting the wheels in motion for a much needed change in policy.

Like most battered women’s shelters, the Rose Brooks Center did not accommodate pets. But this was no ordinary dog: when her boyfriend tried to kill the woman with a hammer, her fearless Great Dane jumped in the way, laying over her body and taking most of the blows until the man threw both of them out of a second story window. The dog, Hank, suffered multiple broken bones in the attack, sparing his owner’s life in the process.

Despite their injuries, the woman was able to escape with her dog, and eventually made her way to the Rose Brooks Center. When they offered her a bed and told her no pets were allowed, she was defiant, and for the first time in its history, the shelter overlooked regulations and allowed the dog to stay.

That decision would eventually lead to a permanent change in policy. Knowing that forty percent of battered women with pets stay in abusive relationships in order to protect their pets, the center’s chief executive officer, Susan Miller, said adding a pet-friendly wing would remove a serious barrier that women face when attempting to leave an abuser. Miller was the one who had ultimately made the call to admit the woman and her dog.

“They provide so much comfort, and to have to leave that pet behind is so heartbreaking,” Miller said. “It has become abundantly clear that the incredible therapeutic benefits that pets can have on a family greatly outweigh the cost and inconvenience of housing them.”

The center is investing $140,000 in renovations that will add seven kennels, a walking trail and pet-friendly play area. Future victims of abuse in the Kansas City area will no longer have to choose between personal safety and the well-being of their four-legged loved ones, a change that shelter officials believe will save lives.

Miller points out that none of this would have been likely were it not for the fierce devotion of a pet and the unwavering love of the woman he saved, and that there was just no way she could turn the two away.

“She was not going to leave her pet alone with him,” she said. “He saved her life.”

Update (6-12-12) The Rose Brooks Center celebrated the opening of its pet kennel today. The pets will have a walking trail and a play area on-site, and shelter occupants are elated at the news.

Rose Brooks Family Center CEO Susan Miller said the change was long overdue. “Up until today, women have had to make a choice – get to safety or abandon their pets. I’m so glad they don’t have to make that choice anymore,” Miller said.

The shelter cost $160,000 to build, and donations will be required to fund vet care, food and housing needs. To show your support for this terrific initiative with a donation, visit http://www.rosebrooks.org.

115 thoughts on “Heroic Dog Saves Woman from Abuser, Incites Change in Shelter Policy

      1. me too, that is why I refuse to date anyone anymore. I don’t trust them around my pets, you never know in the beginning either they always seem nice and then they turn to a holes. So I just chose to stay away. My dogs are far more important.

        1. Do you even know what she looks like? Or are you just bored waiting for the kindergarten bus to come get you?

        2. You sir, are an asshat. Who cares what people look like? Obviously you because you certainly can’t get by with humor, intelligence, compassion, love and kindness.

        3. People post things like that so they can get 8 or 9 people to rage over it. Why? I don’t know but it seems to work everytime.

        4. you are so right….i’d rather be alone the rest of my life with my sweet baby Navarre….then to worry about her safety when i am not there…

    1. Ill give you a high five on that one . I have three dogs that never abused me emotionally or physically, loved me no matter what and one that i believe was my savior after a very hurtful time in my life . I am no longer comfortable in the mainstream society seeing what a bunch of heartless, lying deceptive race is out there. So im living for my dogs, thanks now i dont feel alone.

    2. I am Cherokee and do animal rescue, I have 29 cats. PLEASE don’t worry about nasty people, we can not punish but Wakan Tanka CAN, wait till they go to the Forever, we will all be there waiting OUR hammers in hand and there will be a lot more of us !. I am a recluse and very happy to be so…

  1. this is amazing that they altered their policy. while it’s disheartening to read what the abuser did, it’s also very encouraging to see people react in a way that lead to positive change.

  2. I don’t know who to feel more sorry for, the woman or the dog. It makes me wonder though why she didn’t want her identity revealed.

    1. No, Ainnirbard is not kidding. In most communities the location of the domestic violence shelter is a well kept secret. It is not uncommon at all for an abuser to track down a spouse and “finish the job.” Abused spouses often relocate to new communities so the monster can’t easily track them down.

      1. Really though domestic violence shelters need to be front and center…victims should not be made to feel like they need to hide from their abusers-they need to be safe and protected in a safe environment and the perp needs to be held accountable–in my community it is a coordinated response from a team that includes the shelter and its programs (it is a safe haven) the police dept and sheriffs and the local hospital emergency dept. The steps need to be able to have a person live safely and not have to hide the rest of their lives for leaving an abuser. They deserve that and abusers need to be prosecuted.

        1. Usually in the case of violent spousal abuse, a restraining order is set up. Most restraining orders are saying the abusive spouse must not be within 300 yards or more of the abused. If the order is breached the abuser stands to spend some time behind bars or is put on probation for a set period of time. Sometimes if the abuser is able to locate the whereabouts of his spouse, he may commit a crime against her. This could end up in hospitalization or death as has been some of the cases in the past. Police Departments and Local Security is usually advised of such instances.

    2. @Why is the identity of this woman important? The important thing is that there is being a change made in the shelter to protect both the victim and their pet which most women wil not leave behind.

    3. I would be afraid for my safety if my name got out to the world. The fact that I was abused attached to my name would make me afraid to even date a guy again. In my mind they would be thinking I was easy pickens and they could just threaten me into doing anything they wanted. I wouldn’t want to be revealed either. The Army saved me and my dog went to stay with wonderful people who knew what I was going through and my son went to live with his Dad for awhile. His Dad was not the abuser.

  3. What a dog….I hope the lady he saved cherishes him for life. I have Great Danes too and the male takes his role of protector very seriously. They are wonderful family members, but so are all pets.

  4. I am glad to finally see human shelters taking in pets. People who are about to loose everything need to be able to keep their pets. Keep up the good work and I hope that this shelter is a model for others. I hope that the woman and the dog both heal and have a good life from now on.

  5. Abusers use beloved family pets to coerce, control and further traumatize their human victims. In an abusive home, the unconditional love of a pet may be the only real affection a child or adult victim is able to feel. Abusers keep victims from leaving a dangerous situation by threatening to harm or kill the pet left behind. If the only real friend you’ve had during a traumatic home life is your dog or cat, you are not going to leave him/her behind with the monster who has made your life a living hell. Domestic abuse shelters must accommodate all members of a family fleeing danger and possible death at the hands of the abuser. This story is heartbreaking and very moving. The undeniable strength of the love shared between this beautiful dog and woman just rocks my world.

    1. I cant believe you said that. The dog had broken bones. OF COURSE he got vet care or he would be dead or seriously crippled.

  6. We actually had a local situation with an ugly divorce that the husband was threatening harm to the wife’s Danes. We got the Danes into a foster situation so the wife could leave the house and not have to worry.

    And yes, most women’s shelters are in secret locations. I had a (male) friend that happened to know where one was and wouldn’t even say (I respected him for that).

    In regards to the dating comment…if your dog or your kids don’t like him, that is a pretty good sign you shouldn’t either. They can’t hide their bad intentions from a dog…they can smell it…

  7. And that’s why people don’t say anything and are anonymous, because she doesn’t need her friends and family thinking what an idiot she is for staying, sometimes you just can’t get away without leaving your pets behind and if you think for a moment a violent abuser won’t make that dog suffer after she’s left, think again. I went through much the same and the judgmentalism comment right there makes me say you are a thick headed person. Let me know when you come up against someone who weighs twice as much as you and is a foot taller and decides YOU are the problem in his life when alcohol has fueled his rage. And I’ve stood up to that, who’s brave and who’s a coward. The first time I see an abusive man take on someone twice his size, I’ll eat my hat, they are all cowards. – A view from the front.

  8. Great story. Animals add so much to our lives. Studies have proven the health benefits to humans from our animal companions- lowered blood pressure, longer life expectancy, etc. Abusive relationships are when we need their “medicine” the most.

  9. I was going to a womans shelter for verbal and emotional abuse and one of the main reasons I did not stay at shelter was because I didn’t want to leave my cats behind, I have two and they have been thru cancer with me and all my other illnesses. Wish all shelters would consider this.

  10. Some of the comments in here just proves how ignorant people can be. God Bless this woman that loved her dog so much that she didn’t want to leave him. Who cares what she looks like or why she didnt’ want to be seen on TV (even though, Jeff, it is a no-brainer) and what difference does it make if he was the “boyfriend” or “husband?” – the man is a monster – great story and cudos for Rose Brooks Center for realizing tha pets mean just AS MUCH TO US AS CHILDREN DO!
    Geeezzzz people!

  11. I stopped paying attention to your bigoted, ignorant, stereotyping reporter after she said “for some women”.

    Domestic violence hits men too, and women initiate about 50% of domestic violence overall.

    Men are forced to stay into relationships for much the same reasons: protect loved ones.

    And worse, there are few shelters for men.

    So I am glad things are working out better for this woman and her dog, but screw you and your reporter for your shoddy, misinformed treatment of a serious issue.

    1. The reason why domestic violence is stereotyped as being male on female is because women are much more likely to sustain serious injury when the victim of physical abuse, are much less able to defend themselves against men who are generally larger and stronger, and usually are more financially dependent on the male partner in a relationship. As you point out, this is not universally the case and there should be shelter space for men as well.

      I have a serious problem with your statement that “women initiate about 50% of domestic violence.” That sounds an awful lot like blaming women for starting the fight. If either partner “initiates” physical violence, and the targeted partner does responds in kind rather than leaving the situation, then they are also at fault. The problem is that a male is much more likely to be able to walk away without injury, i.e., be allowed to leave.

    2. What? No one is stopping men from starting their own cancer movement. Quit relying on women to do everything for you. If you don’t like the pink ribbons, you’re free to do as you choose to support whatever cause you want. The only people you have to blame for the lack of a similar male movement is the indifference of men.

      1. Why would I want to start a sexist charity? I am not a sexist who falsely believes that my gender is in a constant state of victimization in order to defer responsibility from the results of my own poor choices in life.

  12. Did she call the police? Someone called the police on the abuser, right? I want the guy’s name and address posted as a follow-up to this story and I want to read about how he was arrested, tried, and convicted of attempted murder as well as cruelty to animals and any other charges law enforcement can come up with.

    It’s no less than the minimum she and her dog deserve. Society criest out for justice here. At least, I do.

  13. I send my best wishes to the victim who was fleeing abuse, the shelter that allowed the heroic dog to stay with the fleeing victim and most of all I hope that that heroic dog who made this story possible and saved a life can get whatever is needed to let him live in comfort. That dog is a hero and apparently prevented a cold-blooded murder. Don’t know about the abuser but it is frightening to think that there are people like that in society.

  14. And if SHE would have used deadly force she would have gone to prison! (I consider a hammer to be deadly force being used against her.) How can we stop this domestic violence?

  15. What a beautiful Story, this was something I was actually thinking I wanted 2 do if I ever won the millions, I just mentioned it the other day even.

    Thank God it is finally in the works, about time
    Awesome stuff Rose Brooks Center, I sure hope all the rest of the world of all shelters men and woman both have a pet shelter added on.
    What a wonderfull world that would be, Yes mine R/were like My children

    I love all animals and couldn’t really care less 4 people really.
    At least They really deserve it. They sure do have My respect

  16. I currently have 10 rescued dogs and outside of my immediate family and a few choice friends, I would choose my dogs over most people any day. Every time I see man’s inhumanity to man and beast, I know I made the right choice. Thank God shelter’s are finally recognizing the important place animals have in our lives, mental and physical health.

  17. I am a victim of domestic violence and the only reason I Never went to a shelter because my pets weren’t important so instead I moved into a different town any man who hits a women is a pussy you best believe I am not leaving my pets with him and shame on any shelter that says we dont allow pets. I’m lucky I had the Money to relocated because if I didnt who would of known what would of happened to me or my pets

  18. The article states that “forty percent of battered women with pets stay in abusive relationships in order to protect their pets”. That is an absolutely preposterous claim.

    1. The article does not say it, the video does if you pay attention. It is not preposterous either. They stay for their children and pets. Innocent creatures that cannot take care of themselves. I’ve been on “the other side” and I can tell you it is a hellish nightmare. You are afraid to call police because when the abuser gets out—you are the 1st person he wants to see. Don’t tell me about restraining orders. They are just that. A piece of paper. Nobody pays attention to them until you are dead.

      1. Susan Cooke-Erskine

        The article DOES say it. Here I will cut and paste for you (Just like I did the first time)

        “Knowing that forty percent of battered women with pets stay in abusive relationships in order to protect their pets,”

        That is a preposterous statement. There may be a tiny, tiny minority of women who stay in abusive relationships because of their pets. Those are what everyone one else in the world calls crazy people.

        1. That is simply translated from the video. Her assertion may be incorrect, but when you consider that the American Humane Association reports that 71 percent of battered women who own pets say that their abusers had threatened, maimed or killed family pets as a means of intimidation – or out of revenge, you can understand that many would choose to stay.

          And that aside, it’s one hell of a story whether the actual stats are 4% or 40%.

  19. In Austeria a Dachshound Saved his 14 Year old Mistress from a Rapist a while ago! The Dog got so cross when the Guy attacked the Girl it bit him so hard and often he ran away! LOL

  20. Rick rememeber when Ginger play held you when we were play fighting but when you got good and pissed off and tried beating on me Ginger grabbed and held your arm til you stopped?

  21. The sad thing about this posting is that the jerk that did this should be charged with assult on both, attempted murder, and animal cruelty and will probably get off with a slap on the wrist. smh

  22. This is so long over due. I regret that I had to leave my dogs behind. They were on a farm, the only home they had known. I ended up moving nine times in ten years time, with two boys. I hope the dogs knew to run when the masters temper boiled over. The boys lost their best friends, and the comfort they provided.

  23. Denne historien viser to ting (synes jeg): 1) At hunder er kloke og fantastiske dyr. 2) At det ofte er enkeltmennesker som får til de store systemforandringene.

  24. This story prompted a group in our community to form a support coalition of vets, rescuers, and the local crisis center to take care of the animal a woman won’t leave behind. The animal will be kept in a safe undisclosed place while the woman is safe in the crisis center.

  25. Good for her for not abandoning her dog and I hope more shelters follow!!! Or find safe places for the dogs while the women are in the shelters!

  26. Once again, dogs don’t love? Yeah, right……..he obviously loves her more than her abusive ‘boyfriend’ ever did! And thank you to the shelter for allowing her to stay with her faithful friend and for changing their policy about pets ~ one more step in the right direction!!

  27. My husband has written a software and travels into women’s shelters across Canada. I was telling him that it would be wonderful if every shelter had it’s own dog. He felt it would be too much red tape (allergies, fear of dogs, responsibility) Hopefully one day all shelters will be able to bring pets in so that women will get to the shelters faster.

  28. A wonderful story with a great ending. Let us not forget that, along with their human victims, our pets are victims, too, and traumatized by what they have experienced and witnessed. Separating them from those who would protect them is cruel. I’m glad this shelter saw the light, and hope others will soon follow. And we need a registry of pet abusers.

  29. Ultrasound teaching might be located in healthcare educational institutions and teaching hospitals, at the same time as community colleges and universities. Foreseeable future ultrasound technicians discover the way to operate professionally within a diagnostic imaging department. Moreover to understanding to run the devices, college students will also study how to keep patient data, put together function schedules, and consider machines purchases.

  30. You ought to really think about working on developing this blog into a major authority in this market. You evidently have a grasp handle of the topics everyone is searching for on this website anyways and you could certainly even earn a buck or two off of some advertisements. I would explore following recent topics and raising the amount of write ups you put up and I guarantee you’d begin seeing some amazing targeted traffic in the near future. Just a thought, good luck in whatever you do!

  31. Good blog. I got a lot of good data. Ive been keeping an eye on this technology for awhile. Its interesting how it keeps varying, yet some of the core factors remain the same. Have you seen much change since Google made their most recent acquisition in the arena?

  32. Just desire to say your article is as amazing. The clearness in your post is simply nice and i could assume youre an expert on this subject. Well with your permission allow me to grab your feed to keep updated with forthcoming post. Thanks a million and please carry on the rewarding work.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.