Last year, a woman contacted the Rose Brooks Center in Kansas City after her boyfriend had beaten her, nearly to death, with a hammer. As she lay there, she explains how her Great Dane came to her rescue. "My dog came over and began to smell me and lick on me and then he turned around and went after my abuser, then lay on top of me." The Rose Brooks Center arranged for the police to bring her to the shelter, but she refused to leave her 110 pound dog. After the dog went after the attacker, he laid on top of the women, taking the majority of the blows. The woman knew that she could not leave J Matthew also known as Hank.
Knowing that the woman was in danger, the Rose Brooks Center agreed that she could bring her dog with her. Hank became the first animal to live at Rose Brooks Center and opened the door for many other dogs to accompany their humans to safety. According to Susan Miller of the Rose Brooks Center, "Forty percent of abused women will not leave their abuser for fear that their pet will either be harmed or killed." The woman agreed, stating that "I would rather live in my car and drive around than abandon the dog that just saved my life."
The Rose Brooks Center began using a basement bathroom as a place for the dogs of other domestic violence victims and has had nearly 40 dogs in the shelter since Hank was first allowed in. The shelter is now building a new wing and is also building a pet shelter that will open this year.
Statistics show that 84% of the time, when a woman is being abused, the pet is being abused too. When Hank laid on top of his owner, he sustained many broken bones, including two ribs and a hip. Because of his bravery, Hank has been named the Human Society of the United States' Valor Dog of the Year. He has also been named the People's Hero, which is voted on by the public.
Hank received a crystal dog figurine, a sterling silver pet tag, a crystal trophy and $350 in merchandise certificates to the Humane Domain. Hank and his owner are keeping a low profile and are rebuilding their lives….together.