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June 15, 2012

A Safe Haven for Victims of Domestic Violence

Thanks to one dog’s heroism and a community’s outpouring of support, victims fleeing violent homes no longer have to choose between seeking safety for themselves or protecting their pets.

Joe Maxwell and Hank
Joe Maxwell, former Lieutenant Governor
of Missouri and The HSUS’s Director of Rural
Development and Outreach, with "Hank"
photo: Amanda Good

In a blog post this March, I told you about a dog named "Hank," the Great Dane from Missouri who we named Valor Dog of the Year and People’s Hero in our Fifth Annual Dogs of Valor Awards for helping shield and save his owner from a violent domestic abuse attack. When Hank’s owner, “McKenzie,” sought refuge from the violence in her own home, she couldn’t find a shelter that would allow her trusted companion, Hank, to stay with her. Because of the dangerous situation, however, officials at the Rose Brooks Center, a domestic violence shelter in Kansas City, Missouri, made an exception to their no-animal policy and opened their doors to the pair.

The bond between Hank and McKenzie was so powerful that it inspired the folks at Rose Brooks Center to take their lifesaving work one step further. This week they extended their humane reach into the community by opening Paws Place Pet Shelter, a new safe haven for animal victims of domestic violence. The second of its kind in the country, the facility will provide housing for up to eight pets belonging to families staying at the Rose Brooks Center.

This Wednesday’s opening celebration of the Paws Place Pet Shelter was the perfect place to honor Hank and the bond he and McKenzie share. Joe Maxwell, former Lieutenant Governor of Missouri and The HSUS’s Director of Rural Development and Outreach, presented Hank with two handcrafted sterling silver tags, a crystal statue created in the canine hero’s likeness, and a crystal trophy to commemorate his Valor Dog of the Year and People’s Hero titles. 

There’s no doubt that because of Hank’s inspiring courage and devotion, there are some Missouri animals and their families who will be much safer tonight.

P.S. For a nation-wide list of safe havens for animals and a list of pet shelters for those fleeing domestic violence, please visit humanesociety.org/safehavens.

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