Dog Earns Valor Award for Shielding Owner From Domestic Violence

Hank, a Great Dane, is this year's Valor Dog.
Hank, a Great Dane, won the Humane Society's Valor Dog award.

A young Great Dane from Missouri named Hank, who didn’t hesitate to put himself in harm’s way to protect his owner from an attack, was given the Humane Society’s 5thAnnual Dog of Valor Award. Hank crawled onto his owner’s back to protect her from her boyfriend when he came after her with a hammer, according to the Humane Society. The man turned on Hank, who sustained several broken ribs and a broken hip; he then dragged the seriously injured Hank out into a busy street and left him there.

Hank's owner, McKenzie, escaped from her attacker, who was threatening to shoot both her and Hank (the woman's name and her dog's name have been changed, for their protection). Police told McKenzie to call the Rose Brooks Center; she did, but was told the shelter couldn’t take dogs. When she said she’d rather sleep in her car than leave her “angel,” the shelter bent the rules to allow the hero dog a safe place to stay. The center is now raising funds for a $140,000 pet-friendly wing for families, Vetstreet reported in January.

“The dogs in this year’s Humane Society of the United States Dogs of Valor Awards are powerful examples of the strong bond between people and animals,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society, said in a statement. “Hank’s heroism in the face of such terrible violence is just another example of dogs employing their amazing senses, intelligence and courage.”

Last Year's Hero

Last year’s Valor Dog was Yogi, a 4-year-old Golden Retriever from Texas, who was running with his owner, Paul Horton, while Horton biked. Horton hit a bump on a mountain trail a few blocks from home and flew over his handlebars, landing on his head. Yogi went to the road and barked furiously for help. When one of Horton’s neighbors noticed Yogi’s unusual behavior, the dog ran down the hill, leading the neighbor to Horton.

Horton was paralyzed from the chest down, but his injuries could have been even worse if not for Yogi’s quick thinking and loyalty.

Both Hank and Yogi were chosen for the Valor Dog award by a panel of judges, but each also received the highest number of votes for the People’s Hero Award, which is chosen by the public in online voting.


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