1. Headline
  1. Headline
Courtesy Rose Brooks Center
This heroic Great Dane, who shielded his owner's body as she withstood a brutal attack, has helped open one domestic violence shelter's doors to other pets.
TODAY contributor
updated 1/19/2012 1:53:20 PM ET 2012-01-19T18:53:20

The heroic efforts of one Great Dane continue to have far-reaching effects. And not just for the woman whose life he saved.

Last year, a young woman contacted the Rose Brooks Center (a domestic violence shelter in Kansas City, MO) after her boyfriend had beaten her — nearly to death — with a hammer. Space was immediately found for the woman at the shelter but there was one problem: She had a 110-pound Great Dane that she refused to abandon.

The dog had saved her life by lying on top of her during the attack, taking the majority of the blows. The heroic pooch sustained many injuries, including a broken hip and ribs.

How could the center refuse shelter for such a brave animal?

  1. Stories from
    1. Craig Strickland's Widow on Their Last Conversation: 'He Walked Out the Door, Looked at Me and Said, "I Love You"'
    2. Joe Jonas Packs on PDA with Former Top Model Contestant Jessica Serfaty
    3. White House Responds to Petition to Pardon Making a Murderer Subjects Steven Avery and Brendan Dassey
    4. Family of Sandy Hook Victim Commends Florida Atlantic University for Firing Professor Who Questioned Massacre
    5. Kylie Jenner's Lip Kit Is Ruining Lives (According to the Internet, Anyway)

“Because of her incredibly dangerous situation we made an exception for her and her dog,” says Susan Miller, CEO of Rose Brooks Center, who made the call to allow the woman and her dog to stay.

Thanks to the Great Dane's presence, the Center has changed its policy to allow other pet owners in need to keep their animals.

Story: Kayaker rescues swimming dog that fled fatal crash

“Since (the situation arose with dog), we created a mini pilot program to test the feasibility of keeping pets on site,” says Miller. “A small restroom in the basement was converted into a makeshift animal room, where one family at a time could keep their pet while they received emergency shelter services. It became abundantly clear early on that the incredible therapeutic benefit pets could have on a family greatly outweighed the cost and inconvenience of housing them. Over the years Rose Brooks Center’s crisis hotline has received countless calls from women who desire to leave their abuser, but ultimately decide to remain in their dangerous home because they fear their abuser will injure or even kill their beloved dog or cat.”

Story: Woman sues to prove dogs are 'living souls,' not property

Because of a 300% increase in demand for services in recent years, the Rose Brooks Center was already in the early phases of an expansion when the young woman and her dog — who have since moved on to a permanent home — sought refuge. Their story prompted not only the change in policy, but also an addition of new animal facilities to the existing plans.

Story: Despite pit bull ban, man reunited with service dog

Construction on the expansion — which will see an additional 25 beds for women and children escaping violent homes as well as seven kennels, a walking trail and pet-friendly play area — is well underway. The animal-friendly additions will cost an extra $140,000, and the project is set to be completed in late spring 2012.

  1. More on pets
    1. Festive felines: 11 cats in Christmas trees
    2. Boy, beaver wave to each other at zoo
    3. From blocks to stationery, 11 gift ideas for pets
    4. Most popular kitten names: Bella, Max and ... Kitty
    5. 24 fantastic animal photos

Other shelters and organizations across the country are also responding to the needs of pet-owners in crisis. SAF-T (Sheltering Animals and Families Together), launched in 2010, lists over 60 shelters that allow pets on site, providing a safe haven for both human and animal. According to SAF-T, up to 85% of women entering domestic violence shelters reported that their partner had threatened, injured, or killed their pet.

Pets of the Homeless (a nonprofit volunteer organization that provides pet food and veterinary care to the homeless and less fortunate in the USA and Canada) reports that of the 3.5 million homeless in America, 5% to 10% have dogs and or cats. More information is available on their website, including a list of pet-friendly shelters.

© 2013 NBCNews.com  Reprints

Photos: Puppy paw-parazzi

loading photos...
  1. Shelter animals get glam

    Photographers are reaching out to rescue groups and shelters to take better pictures of pets who need homes. Routine pictures of animals behind bars like Reagan the dachshund, right, don’t encourage adoptions, they say.

    Portrait photographer Teresa Berg reshot Reagan in pearls tilting his head in her Dallas photo studio. Pictures that capture an animal’s personality help people looking to adopt pets connect with them, photographers say. (Teresa Berg) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Camera shy

    Fabio, an orange-and-white cat, avoids the camera in his before picture. He gets cozy on a blue blanket in his reshoot and gazes into the lens of photographer Nanette Martin of Shelter-Me Photography. (Nanette Martin / Shelter-Me Photography) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. Let sleeping dogs lie?

    Niki the dachshund took a snooze during her before picture – but she’s awake and standing in an oversized food bowl peering up at Berg’s camera in her retake.

    Dark-and-tan dachshunds like Niki used to linger longest in foster homes of the Dallas-Fort Worth Dachshund Rescue Foundation. Berg’s photos have sped up their adoption rates, the foundation says. (Teresa Berg) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. I’m getting very sleepy…

    Austin the dachshund lies down and squints in his before picture – and sits up looking meaningfully into Berg’s lens in the reshoot. (Teresa Berg) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Did you color your fur?

    Before: Alaina the cat appears to have chocolate fur - but she’s glossy black, her after shot reveals. Cats with dark fur can be especially challenging to photograph, Martin says. (Nanette Martin / Shelter-Me Photography) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fashion faux pas

    Cody the dachshund is buried under a plaid hat in his before picture. He adorably looks up from his pillow perch in his retake. (Teresa Berg) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Perk up!

    Sympathy shots, photographers say, usually don’t get the animal adopted, and may turn people away from visiting shelters altogether. Martin reshoots Dude, this pit-bull mix, tilting his head and perking his ears up. (Nanette Martin / Shelter-Me Photography) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Positive pictures: Say cheese!

    Seth Casteel photographs people’s pets for a living including celebrities’ – and volunteers at shelters around the country to take positive pictures of pets without people like this smiley pooch. He just launched the site SecondChancePhotos.org to offer workshops and tips to amateur photographers and animal lovers looking to set up their own photo shoots with shelter and rescue pets.

    Ahead: Dos and don’ts of shelter photography. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. http://www.secondchancephotos.org// (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Got your attention?

    Photographers say some animals like this floppy-eared black lab especially need help getting people’s attention because they’re less desirable and trickier to photograph. Better pictures, they say, inspire visits to shelters and rescues and adoptions of animals – and can save a pet’s life. (LittleFriendsPhoto.com) Back to slideshow navigation
  1. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  2. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  3. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.

  4. Editor's note:
    This image contains graphic content that some viewers may find disturbing.

    Click to view the image, or use the buttons above to navigate away.


Discussion comments


Most active discussions

  1. votes comments
  2. votes comments
  3. votes comments
  4. votes comments

More on TODAY.com

  1. @HillaryClinton/twitter

    Hillary Clinton: Granddaughter led me 'to speed up' political plans

    4/10/2015 3:58:42 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T15:58:42
  1. Courtesy Bryan Morseman

    Marathon dad's victories help raise money for son with spina bifida

    4/10/2015 5:54:50 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T17:54:50
  1. YouTube

    8 great celebrity impressions of other celebrities

    4/10/2015 6:44:22 PM +00:00 2015-04-10T18:44:22