Shelter Stages A Hilarious Whodunit To Help Animals Find Forever Homes

"Animal shelters need your help. The Hanks of the world need your help."

When a 4-year-old chocolate lab named Hank had a little too much fun ripping apart his plush purple hippopotamus toy, the staff at the Fox Valley Humane Association in Appleton, Wisconsin (where Hank was residing) decided to have a little enjoyment of their own and stage a hilarious whodunit mystery.

On July 8, the shelter shared an Instagram photo of Hank with his pal, calling the canine/hippo duo a "bonded pair" and indicating they should be adopted together.


"The hippo won't let us get an age on her, but we don't think she's quite as old as Hank.They've been together a long time though," the post cheekily continued. "She IS spayed and current on vaccinations, but does seem a bit lethargic. Hank is most definitely not."

Just days later, however, Hank and Fuzzy Purple Hippo's relationship took a bit of a dramatic turn. By July 11, Hank's beloved pal had suffered a "medical emergency" and needed the services of one of the kind vets on staff who had to perform "life-saving surgery to repair the near-decapitation."

While all fingers were pointed at Hank as the culprit, the pooch refused to reveal what happened to his now slightly less plush friend. "Details of the incident which caused the injury are murky, as Hank is refusing to answer our questions," the caption read.

Thankfully, Fuzzy Purple Hippo pulled through and was soon "resting comfortably despite the cone of shame." Though she had some obvious visible injuries and was "groggy from pain medication," social media users were relieved to learn she pulled through.

"This made my whole day," one commenter wrote.

However, Hank's initial silence wasn't going to be tolerated, so that meant it was time for a "formal interrogation into the assault of his companion." Not one to be intimidated, the caption noted, "Hank's jowls remain firmly closed."  

By this point Hank had amassed hundreds of fans, one of which urged him to "Be brave! Resist!"

After Fuzzy Purple Hippo met with a therapist and Hank consulted with a humane officer-appointed attorney, the Appleton Police Department got involved and made a concerted effort to solve this mysterious case.

As the below photos from the K9 investigation seem to indicate, Hank actually played no role in causing Fuzzy Purple Hippo's injuries. 

According to a subsequent statement from the Appleton Police Department, Fuzzy Purple Hippo actually harmed herself while attempting to scale the kennel door. "We are proud to exonerate Hank of all wrongdoings," Chief Thomas explained in the video announcement below. "Actually, Hank should be commended for the fine job that he did trying to take care of his friend."

After being cleared of any wrongdoing, a Fox Valley Humane Association volunteer and photographer named Rebecca Reppert-Klich, who we all have to thank for writing the humorous social media posts, tells A Plus Hank and Fuzzy Purple Hippo found a forever home! "[They] were adopted on July 13 by a WONDERFUL couple with another dog, named Ann," she says.

As for how the whole "mystery" started? Rebecca tells us the inspiration came from a note from Hank's previous owner (who had to return him to the shelter because of allergies after adopting him a few years prior) explaining how the dog had grown attached to Fuzzy Purple Hippo. "I decided that it would be a fun Instagram post to do an adoption bio saying that they were a 'bonded pair' — what we call a pair of dogs or cats that must be adopted together — and our followers got a kick out of it," she reveals. "I really thought that it would be the end of it, and hoped it would help bring interest to Hank."  

But as we all know by now, that first photo of Hank and Fuzzy Purple Hippo was just the beginning.

"A couple of days later one of our staff members told me that Hank had ripped up his hippo, so it sparked an idea and I ran the hippo back to our lead veterinarian. From there I just ran with it, getting more and more people involved," Rebecca adds. "People were really getting a kick out of the crime/romantic saga, and it was bringing TONS of attention to Hank AND all of our other animals."

The ASPCA reports approximately 6.5 million companion animals enter U.S. animal shelters nationwide every year, so every opportunity to raise awareness most certainly helps.

"People have said the photos made them really laugh and have brightened their day, all while bringing attention to the cause of animal adoption," Rebecca tells us. "That is exactly what I wanted to do with this story. My goal with photographing animals is to show their personality, to show WHO they are, not what they look like. This series, I think, accomplished that, and people enjoyed getting to see that animal rescue is not just the sad and gloomy stuff that we see on TV." 

"Laughter and joy is the part that keeps us going through the hard stuff, and what helps find amazing rescue animals homes like the one Hank and his Fuzzy Purple Hippo are in now!" Rebecca continues, noting that finding the pair a home was the "best part" of this whole saga.

To say Rebecca achieved her goal of bringing attention to the importance of animal adoption is an understatement. She tells us Hank's story has spread all over the world and has positively impacted FVHA in ways she couldn't have even imagined. "The exposure for our shelter has been incredible and has helped so many other animals in need find homes," she says. "We've even received donations from people who have been touched by the story, which has helped us save more lives! The power of laughter is an incredible thing!"

And even though Rebecca is thrilled Hank's story brought joy to so many, she stresses the importance of donating to your local animal shelter. "Animal shelters like ours are funded solely by donations, sponsorships, and fundraisers. We save countless animals like Hank every year — loving, sweet, happy dogs and cats who have come to shelters not because they are 'bad' or 'damaged,' but because people develop allergies like Hank's previous owner, or they fall on hard times," she concludes. "Wonderful dogs just like Hank need homes, and if people can't adopt they can donate a few dollars, volunteer a few hours of their time, or even just tell a shelter worker they did a good job today. Animal shelters need your help. The Hanks of the world need your help."  

To learn more about the Fox Valley Humane Association, click here.


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