How One Great Dane Opened the Door for Battered Women

Not only did J. Matthew save his human from an abusive boyfriend, he helped banish the no-pet policy at a women's shelter.


Dogs are amazing. We don’t need to say it twice. They can sense our sadness and try to comfort us, they can help turn people’s lives around, and they can make living with an illness much easier. Dogs and humans share a bond unlike any other relationship between people and animals. We’ve evolved to need each other — it’s a cosmic alliance that is centuries old.

It’s this very bond that saved one woman from domestic violence and helped change the very rules of one women’s shelter in Kansas City. Dubbed “Mackenzie” to protect her identity, the woman has her Great Dane, J. Matthew, to thank for where she is today — a survivor who escaped an abusive monster.

Speaking bravely before an audience, Mackenzie described her painful experience, explaining, “When your life is being threatened and you’re in that situation, you don’t think. [You only want to] make it through the next blow. Make it through the next second. Make it through the next minute.” It was during just such an incident that Mackenzie’s boyfriend at the time hurled her right through a wall by her shirt. “Literally — drywall, boards, nails — to the other side.”

Alerted to the commotion, J. Matthew rushed to Mackenzie’s aid, lying on top of her to protect her from the continuing onslaught. Once the abuse subsided, Mackenzie was able to escape, but her boyfriend threw the dog off the porch, dragging him to a busy intersection and abandoning him there.

Afterward, and back with J. Matthew, Mackenzie was directed to a women’s shelter called the Rose Brooks Center, where she learned her dog was not welcome. When Mackenzie insisted she would rather just leave town and stay at a rest stop than stay at the facility without J. Matthew, the Kansas City women’s organization had a change of heart.

The Rose Brooks Center now welcomes women and their pets, and is building a fabulous new kennel to house the companions who are more than just pets, but family and support systems. With as many as 40 percent of battered women revealing that they don’t leave abusive situations because they don’t want to abandon beloved animal companions, the shelter’s change of rules is one that can help save the lives of women like Mackenzie.

Rose Brooks Center CEO Susan Miller doesn’t regret the decision to banish the center’s no-pet policy, saying, “It was just great to see the bonding they had … the healing process they went through together. … It really made us realize this was something we needed to do. We needed to provide this opportunity for women to bring their pets.”

We’re totally crying at our desks now, and we’re not ashamed to admit it!

Via CBS News

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