JoAnna Lou
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Dog Inspires Shelter to Become Pet Friendly
A Kansas City women’s shelter will welcome pets this year

This year, the Rose Brooks Center women’s shelter in Kansas City will become the first in the area to welcome pets, thanks to a heroic Great Dane named J Matthew.

Last year, a woman arrived with J Matthew at Rose Brooks Center after her boyfriend tried to kill her with a hammer. The Great Dane protected the woman by lying over her body and taking most of the blows until the man finally threw them both out of a second story window.

J Matthew suffered multiple broken bones in the attack, but saved the woman’s life in the process.

At the time, like most other shelters, the Rose Brooks Center had a no pets policy. They initially turned J Matthew away, but the woman was adamant that she be allowed to keep him safe too. Inspired by their story, the shelter made an exception and later decided to change their policy and welcome all pets. 

Rose Brooks is now working on a $140,000 renovation that will create a pet-friendly wing with kennels, a play area and access to walking trails that will be ready later this year.

Women all over Kansas City have J Matthew to thank for this new resource. The brave Great Dane saved not only his favorite person, but will help countless others who turn to Rose Brooks with their pets. Twenty to 40 percent of battered women stay in abusive relationships to protect their pets. But women in the Kansas City area will no longer have to choose between their pets and leaving a bad situation.

Hopefully other shelters will be moved by J Matthew’s story as well.

JoAnna Lou is a New York City-based researcher, writer and agility enthusiast.

Photo from Life With Dogs.

CommentsPost a Comment
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Submitted by Anonymous | January 24 2012 |

This is awesome. I worked for an animal shelter that had a program to take in animals for people who had to seek help at domestic violence shelters, most of which have no-pets policies. The animals were kept safe in an undisclosed location until the owner could reclaim them.

Unfortunately, our funding for the program dried up, and we were no longer able to take these animals in except through our regular intake, which means total relinquishment of the animal.

More domestic violence shelters need to take this step. Humans aren't the only victims.

Submitted by Anonymous | January 25 2012 |

Despite my sadness over this terrible attack on a woman and her dog, I am so glad to hear that this story is beginning to change the no-pet policy of domestic violence shelters. Animals offer such deep emotional support, not to mention physical wellness, that everyone in a shelter should have access to someone furry!

Next up... changing the no-pet policies at disaster shelters!

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