Dogs of Valor Awards. Hank was named not just Valor Dog of the Year by celebrity judges Tamar Geller and Braylon Edwards, but also received the highest number of votes in the People’s Hero Award.
Hank earned the Valor Dog of the Year and People’s Hero awards by helping to shield his owner, a woman named McKenzie, from her boyfriend who was viciously attacking her with a hammer. When Hank crawled on her to block the blows, the man turned on Hank, shattering several ribs and a hip.
"He turned around, went after my abuser and laid on top of me," McKenzie said.
Her abuser then dragged the gravely injured dog into a busy street and left him for dead. The man told McKenzie that if she called her dog he would shoot them both. McKenzie managed to escape by driving to a police station, her attacker following with a shotgun.
Understandably, McKenzie didn't want to leave Hank behind when she went to the Rose Brooks Center for help. "I could not let that happen to this animal that just saved my life," she said.
"(McKenzie) wouldn't have come without him," said Sarah North of the Rose Brooks Center. “She said, ‘I would have rather lived in my car and driven around than abandoned a dog that had saved my life’, and who are we to make that call?"
Hank became the first dog that Rose Brooks Center ever took in. Officials there said many women are reluctant to leave abusive homes for fear of losing beloved pets.
"In 84 percent of cases when a woman is being abused, the pet is being abused too," said Susan Miller of the Rose Brooks Center.
The center started using a basement bathroom as a haven for other pets of domestic violence victims. "We've had 38 pets since we allowed (Hank) to come into our shelter," said Miller.
The shelter is adding a wing to make room for more women, and it will also build a pet shelter that will open later this year.
McKenzie said she and Hank plan to keep a low profile as they rebuild their lives. They will have the help of the additional money they received from the national awards.
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Sources: KMBC.com and HumaneSociety.org