Last summer, a Kansas City woman's life was saved when her brave Great Dane threw himself over the woman's body as she was beaten by her boyfriend. After the incident, the woman fled to a domestic violence shelter. But what would happen to the animal that saved her life?
When the woman contacted an area domestic violence shelter, she was told that her dog wasn't welcome to follow her. She didn't want to leave the dog with the man who had thrown both her and the dog from a second story window, and so the shelter's director, Susan Miller, decided to make an exception to their "no pets" policy for the pooch. Now, Kansas City's Rose Brooks Center is looking to add seven kennels to their facility, and Miller hopes other domestic violence shelters follow suit.
Heartbreakingly, it's not uncommon for abusers to threaten to harm their partner's children or pets in an attempt to further control them, and Miller estimates that many women put their own lives and the lives of their children in danger by remaining in abusive situations in the name of their furry companions. According to her, two out of five women have expressed hesitance to leave abusive partners because they're worried about what might happen to their dogs. One woman lived in her car with her pet for months while she waited for an opening in a pet-friendly shelter. Uncounted others never left, or stuck around until it was too late.
While it may seem irrational to put one's life on the line in the name of saving an animal, pets often serve as emotional support to people who are otherwise alone. To ask them to give up their friend, their support after what they've gone through as survivors of violence is, well, inhumane. Even though my cat spends most of her day sleeping, pooping in a box, and trying to murder everything, for example, I know I'd have extreme difficulty leaving her in the hands of someone who I thought might mistreat her. I can't imagine the difficulty of subjecting oneself to the secondary trauma of losing of a pet in addition to escaping an abusive home life.
The Rose Brooks Center is accepting donations for their kennel project (and, holy crap, if you live in the Kansas City area and have as unmanageable a girl crush on Kristen Chenoweth as I do, you can attend their big gala fundraiser next month. She'll be there!) If you'd like to find out more about how domestic violence shelters are helping women with pets in your area, here's a place to get started. Now, go hug your dog or something.