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Her Dog Took the Blows From Her Abuser Husband (and the shelter policy that changed because of it)

As if I needed another reason to brag about cats drooling and dogs being the ones who rule!! Boom. Case in point:

“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.”

The dog SAVED HER LIFE!!! (if you could see me right now you’d see me jumping up and down, fist pumping like a Jersey Shore resident, over excitedly proclaiming that dogs are FANTASTIC!!!)

This Kansas City shelter is so impressed with this animal they’re literally re-hauling their policy of pets not being allowed, and making way for renovations to accommodate other women and their animal companions.

(to read more about that, and how you can help, click: here)

If you don’t get how big a deal this is for even just this one shelter to allow abuse victims to seek help and safety for themselves and their cherished companion, then maybe you’ve been living under a rock and have yet to hear a lady refer to her pet as her child…(it’s a big deal!!)

Maybe these American Humane Association FACTS will paint a more understandable picture,

Facts About Animal Abuse and Domestic Violence

In association with the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

Why it Matters

  • 71% of pet-owning women entering women’s shelters reported that their batterer had injured, maimed, killed or threatened family pets for revenge or to psychologically control victims; 32% reported their children had hurt or killed animals.
  • 68% of battered women reported violence towards their animals. 87% of these incidents occurred in the presence of the women, and 75% in the presence of the children, to psychologically control and coerce them.
  • 13% of intentional animal abuse cases involve domestic violence.
  • Between 25% and 40% of battered women are unable to escape abusive situations because they worry about what will happen to their pets or livestock should they leave. 
  • Pets may suffer unexplained injuries, health problems, permanent disabilities at the hands of abusers, or disappear from home.
  • Abusers kill, harm, or threaten children’s pets to coerce them into sexual abuse or to force them to remain silent about abuse. Disturbed children kill or harm animals to emulate their parents’ conduct, to prevent the abuser from killing the pet, or to take out their aggressions on another victim.
  • In one study, 70% of animal abusers also had records for other crimes. Domestic violence victims whose animals were abused saw the animal cruelty as one more violent episode in a long history of indiscriminate violence aimed at them and their vulnerability.
  • Investigation of animal abuse is often the first point of social services intervention for a family in trouble.
  • For many battered women, pets are sources of comfort providing strong emotional support: 98% of Americans consider pets to be companions or members of the family. 
  • Animal cruelty problems are people problems. When animals are abused, people are at risk.

Did You Know?

  • More American households have pets than have children. We spend more money on pet food than on baby food. There are more dogs in the U.S. than people in most countries in Europe – and more cats than dogs. 
  • A child growing up in the U.S. is more likely to have a pet than a live-at-home father.
  • Pets live most frequently in homes with children: 64.1% of homes with children under age 6, and 74.8% of homes with children over age 6, have pets. The woman is the primary caregiver in 72.8% of pet-owning households.
  • Battered women have been known to live in their cars with their pets for as long as four months until an opening was available at a pet-friendly safe house.

This isn’t the only shelter out there to accept pets (thankfully) but it is a reality that all cannot care for them. I’d encourage you to learn more about this. And maybe what you can do to help.

These aren’t the only kinds of situations where care for a loved animal dedicated a person’s response. Think about that.

Heck, I don’t even like cats (even though practically ALL my friends have them!! grrr!!), but my earthquake buddy has particular simulations for addressing the needs of his cat in the event of a natural disaster, and similar to the Rose Brooks Center (now at least), I’m willing to accommodate.


About maggie.

Maggie Barnes is a nonprofit and for profit business content specialist / social media consultant; and social sciences web writer interested in everything from psychology and sexuality, to technology, race, and economics. She is passionate about good communication and information accessibility.



  1. Pingback: Hero dog prompts women’s shelter to accept canines – CBS News « lennyesq - June 22, 2012

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