For those wondering what a hero looks like in canine form, J. Matthews would be it.
The 140-pound Great Dane saved his owner, who did not want to be identified for safety reasons, from her abusive boyfriend two years ago. While her attacker beat her with a hammer, J. Matthews laid his lean, but very large frame on top of her body to take the blows.
The woman managed to escape from a balcony and went back with police to find her beloved dog suffering from broken ribs, lacerations and bruises.
When the owner finally did seek help from a domestic violence shelter, she could not find one that would allow pets, but she wasn't going to leave behind the dog that saved her life.
"That story was really the most inspirational moment for us to do this pet shelter. She came to us in such a situation and she and her dog were just both so brave," CEO of the Rose Brooks Family Center Susan Miller said.
Employees at the Rose Brooks Family Shelter decided to make an exception. They found room for J. Matthews - which was very little - and decided others might be experiencing the same situation.
"Up until today, women have had to make a choice - get to safety or abandoned their pets. I'm so glad they don't have to make that choice anymore," Miller said.
Tuesday, thanks to numerous donations, Rose Brooks is the first domestic violence center to house a pet kennel. Crews put the final touches on the new kennels for dogs and cats. It will house about eight pets.
The pets will have a walking trail and a play area on-site. It was obvious just how much the pet shelter was needed as women were waiting for it and before the shelter had even been dedicated the kennels were at full capacity.
"It's so emotional for children to have to leave their house, their belongings and their beloved pets too that have provided them with support. It's very devastating," Miller said.
J. Matthews is a hero to his owner, but now a hero for others families too.
The shelter cost $160,000 to build, but donations are still needed to maintain the facility, for vet care, food and housing needs. For more information on the shelter and how to donate, click here.
Copyright 2012 KCTV (MeredithCorp.) All rights reserved.
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