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Domestic Violence Shelter Expanding to Protect People and Pets

HSUS Dog of Valor winner inspired Rose Brookes Center to open wing for violence survivors and their pets

Rose Brooks Center

  • "Hank's" courage won him two Dogs of Valor awards and inspired the Rose Brookes Center to make room for pets at the shelter. Rose Brookes Center

The Humane Society of the United States applauds Rose Brooks Center for working to provide refuge for animals in domestic violence cases and urges other groups working to prevent domestic violence to consider launching similar programs. Rose Brookes's new center was inspired by “Hank,” whose heroic actions recently earned him The HSUS’s Valor Dog of the Year and People's Hero awards.

Bravery "without hesitation"

The Great Dane from Kansas City (called "Hank" to keep his and his owner's identities safe) who is going earned both the Dogs of Valor awards for helping shield his owner from her boyfriend who was viciously attacking her with a hammer. Although Hank’s hip and several ribs were broken, he provided enough of a distraction to allow his owner to escape the brutal attack. After both were treated, Hank and his owner were reunited at Rose Brooks Center in Kansas City.

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“It’s difficult to imagine the amount of courage it must have taken for a dog to deliberately put himself in such a horrifying scenario,” said Anne Sterling, midwest regional director for The HSUS. “Hank did it without hesitation though, demonstrating once again the undeniable intelligence and compassionate nature present in animals.”

An exception for Hank

Following the attack, Hank’s owner received shelter at Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence agency in Kansas City. Because of the dangerous situation, Rose Brooks Center made an exception to their no animal policy and opened their doors to Hank when his owner called for help.

The incident prompted a change in the agency’s policy and inspired them to add new animal facilities to their building expansion plan. The new facility will house people seeking refuge from abusers with their animals, since pets are often targeted as a way to inflict emotional injury. Victims of domestic violence can be reluctant to leave an abusive household if they have to leave a pet behind.

Meet Hank and the other Dogs of Valor winners »

"Pets are part of that family, too"

“Rose Brooks believes in family,” said Sarah North, spokesperson for Rose Brooks Center. “Our work every day is to keep families safe and help them rebuild their lives.  And pets are part of that family too.  We’ve simply redefined what ‘family’ means to us.”

Rose Brooks Center has broken ground on the new construction but is still raising the funds to cover the $140,000 animal-friendly addition.  The shelter, which will be completed in May, will be only the second free-standing domestic violence pet shelter in the country.

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