Rose Brooks Center provides refuges for battered women, children and their pets

Up to 40 percent of battered women will not attempt to get out of abusive situations for fear of what may happen to their pets.

black lab mix

Unfortunately, most shelters for domestic abuse victims do not have a place for animals. In Kansas City that changed this year, when Rose Brooks Center opened its pet shelter.

This long-awaited development made national headlines as animal lovers everywhere said to themselves “It’s about time!” I hope more shelters everywhere begin accepting victims and their pets.

Although I’d been moved to tears by the story of the woman and her Great Dane who inspired the creation of the pet shelter at Rose Brooks, I didn’t know much about the Center until a recent teambuilding event through my work. I blogged at Your Brand Partner about the experience of baking cookies for the kids at Rose Brooks Center with my Staples Promotional Products colleagues.

rose brooks center cookie donation

Stephanie, the Rose Brooks cook and me.

When I delivered the cookies with my friend and colleague Stephanie, Joan Dougherty, Rose Brooks Center’s Director of Volunteers and Community Support, gave us a tour of the facility, including a peek through the window of the pet shelter. Joan is so proud of the pet shelter and what it means for the Center.

She says:

Our mission is to break the cycle of domestic violence so that individuals and families can live free from abuse. In 2011, we realized that ‘families’ meant our furry family members as well. Our family pets are just that – family members.  Some women would not come into shelter for safety because they had to leave their loving pets behind and oftentimes the pets were in danger themselves from the abuser.

We decided we needed to make a change to truly fulfill our mission statement. So we built the first ever pet shelter at a domestic violence shelter to protect the entire family from abuse. This pet shelter has changed the lives of all who see it, who use it. It is healing for the families to see their pets safe as they are on their healing journey. They can all be together in one location and know the pets are getting the care they need.

Later, Joan put me in touch with Kelsey, the pet advocate at Rose Brooks. Kelsey filled me in on the duties of her job and how the community can support this shelter.

Check out her comments:

I got into this line of advocacy after working in a regular animal shelter and being interested in supporting women who are survivors of domestic violence. It was just wonderful that the job opened up and I happened to apply for it.

Being the Pet Shelter Advocate is kind of like having every job at a small animal shelter. I get to help women get their animals to safety and do the intake process. I make sure the animals are healthy and able to stay in out shelter, especially making sure they do not have a contagious disease. I do some of the day to day care of the animals including deep cleaning their kennels everyday and their laundry, the animal’s parents do the majority of the care. I make sure the animals are happy and healthy, I provide enrichment and take them to their vet appointments.

I also help women outside of the shelter, whether it be finding foster homes for women going into the hospital, helping them get their animals out of the care of their abusers, or helping them to find shelter at a local animal shelter if that is what is best. Because we are the only domestic violence agency in the region that accepts companion animals, I get calls from all over the Kansas City Metropolitan area!

The main kind of support we need right now for the Pet Shelter program is foster parents. I have been working with a woman who is in and out of the hospital for chemotherapy and she needs a foster home for her dog and cat for about three days every other week. We also get a lot of calls from the community from women who have animals but we cannot accept into Rose Brooks for space reasons. It is my biggest goal to prevent animals who have loving parents from going into animal shelters, both to maintain that bond with their family and also to prevent the overcrowding of animal shelters in our area!

Four ways you can support Rose Brooks Center

  1. Make a monetary donation at
  2. Donate a Kuranda bed for the pet shelter. To do this, visit
  3. Become a volunteer! Helpers at the pet shelter must first go through a Dog 101 training course. Contact Kelsey at KelseyB (a) RoseBrooks [dot] org or 816.523.5550 ext. 271
  4. Go shopping! If you’re in Kansas City this Saturday, join local bloggers KimberlyLOC and Jess from for Fashionistas on a Mission.
fashionistas on a mission event flyer

Click for more information!


About crystalwayward

I live with two formerly wayward dogs. I care deeply about the environment, and I think gardening is a revolutionary act.

Posted on September 21, 2012, in Dogs, Random Life and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 13 Comments.

  1. An amazing center! Wonderful! Thank you for highlighting this incredible initiative.

  2. I am so glad Kansas City has a shelter like that, I just wish the rest of the world would catch up and do the same or better yet… stop domestic violence!

  3. So inspiring! No living creature should be mistreated. Ever.

  4. what an absolutely fabulous idea and what a wonderful group of people. I have to admit that I had not thought about the fact that an abused woman would not leave due to her pets but, now that you mention it, it makes perfect sense.
    Great post – thank you.

  5. How wonderful… Thanks so much for highlighting such a place. Other cities, take note.

  6. How amazing and I hope it has a domino affect and we see more shelters like this develop all over the country!

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