Shelter dog becomes social media darling and finds a new home

His name is Hank.

He’s a handsome fella, a chocolate Lab with Chesapeake Bay Retriever thrown in for good measure. There’s sadness in his eyes.

Or is it guilt?

He has a bestie, a fuzzy purple hippo with no name.

The two needed a home, together, so the folks at the Fox Valley Humane Association in Appleton, Wisc., unleashed the power of social media.

Over the last few days they spun a yarn about these two friends that was so elaborate, so suspenseful — the “authorities” were called in at one point — that Hank and his hippo became Instagram and Facebook darlings.

“We are just raising awareness and doing it in a really fun and positive way,” Deb Lewis, executive director of the humane association, told NBC 26 in Green Bay.

This dog tale began with an adoption notice.

“Hank and his purple hippo are a bonded pair, so if you aren’t ready for a 4 year old Chocolate Lab to come home when you adopt your fuzzy Hippopotamus … well, sorry, we can’t approve your application.

“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. She IS spayed and current on vaccinations, but does seem a bit lethargic.

“Hank is most definitely not. They do say that opposites attract …”

Four days later came disturbing news: Purple hippo-with-no-name was discovered nearly decapitated.

Dr. Laura was called in for emergency suture surgery.

“Details of the incident which caused the injury are murky, as Hank is refusing to answer our questions. (Yes, we have tried sternly asking, ‘What did you DO??’ but he only looks away with a guilty look on his face),” the shelter shared on Instagram.

“Please keep the Fuzzy Purple Hippo in your thoughts.”

The next day hippo, “groggy from pain medication,” rested comfortably in a “cone of shame.”

Meanwhile, the heat was on Hank.

What did he know about this tragic turn of events and when did he know it?

Hank met with his court-appointed attorney. (Not a real lawyer. He just plays one on Instagram.)

Hank was “interrogated.”

Protesters showed up at the shelter wearing “Free Hank” signs.

The local police department brought in a dog — traitor! — to sniff for clues.

In a post on its Facebook page on Friday, the humane association announced that the chief of police had exonerated Hank of all wrongdoing.

By then, Hank and the hippo were stars. Hundreds of people have been following their saga on the humane association’s Instagram and Facebook page.

“Social media has opened doors to us we never thought possible before. It’s literally brought the humane society into people’s living rooms, their offices, their cars,” Lewis told NBC 26.

She credited the association’s creative use of social media with saving animals’ lives — more than 4,100 so far this year, on track to surpass last year’s total of 6,283.

People waiting for a happy ending for Hank were not disappointed.

He and his hippo were adopted, together, leading the shelter to end the story like this: #caseclosed.

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