Heroic & Inspiring

Adoptable Dog Hank & His Purple Hippo Cause a Stir at Wisconsin Animal Shelter

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When the Fox Valley Humane Association of Appleton, Wisconsin accepted a bonded pair of adoptable pets that included 4-year old Chocolate Lab Hank and his fuzzy purple hippo, shelter staff couldn’t have prepared for the chaos that the pair would cause at the shelter.

It all started when Hank arrived at the shelter with his adorable, though fairly lethargic best pal, Hippopotamus. From time to time, shelters receive animals that are closely bonded and must be adopted together.

This pair was no exception:

But, as bonded pairs can sometimes take time to adopt together, something tragic happened while they waited for their perfect forever home.

‘Hippo’ underwent emergency surgery for an accident that led to her near-decapitation!

Although her future was uncertain, the amazing veterinary staff at Fox Valley were able to patch Hippo up and save her life.

Still, no one would step forward with information about the brutal attack on Hippo. So an investigation was launched by the Appleton Police Department.

While police investigated the incident, picketers lined up outside the shelter in support of Hank and to demand he be cleared of all charges against him.

After her recovery, Hippo met with a therapist to ensure she felt safe in her sometimes-tumultuous relationship with Hank.

Finally, it was determined that not only was Hank NOT guilty of the senseless violence against his best fuzzy friend, he was ultimately a hero! The entire incident was determined to be an accident as detailed on the Appleton Police Department’s Facebook page:

On the evening of Monday, July 10 after FVHA staff had left for the night, the Fuzzy Purple Hippo attempted to scale their kennel door. Having opposable thumbs (a design flaw at the stuffie factory?) she believed that she could open the lock if she got to the other side, then free Hank as well. The pair planned to grab a few treats from the box that they stare longingly at all day from their kennel, snag a comfy blanket from the cart in the hall, then head out to the backyard to snuggle and stargaze. The romantic night of their dreams…

…things, as you may have guessed, did not go exactly as planned…

Fuzzy Purple Hippo made it to the top of the kennel door with the sort of grace and finesse not typically seen in a hippopotamus, and Hank saw his periwinkle angel in a whole new light. His big chocolate heart thumped an extra beat. 

As quickly as his heart had soared, it crashed…when her silky fur caught on the wire at the very top of the kennel. His heart wrenching howl could be heard throughout the shelter as she struggled to free herself but could not. Hank slid his bed to the door, made a mountain of his blankets, and climbed atop it all until he could stretch high enough to rescue his damsel in distress. 

Hank cared for his princess throughout the night until the staff arrived and Dr Laura could perform the life-saving surgery that she needed. 

Why did he not just explain what happened from the beginning and avoid the speculation and accusations, you ask? That’s exactly what we wanted to know! 

Hank said that he was scared that the Fuzzy Purple Hippo would get in trouble for trying to get out of their kennel and he wanted to protect her. He was willing to go to prison to keep her free and able go to a good home. 

What about Fuzzy Purple Hippo, you ask? How could she let Hank take the fall? She couldn’t. She was so heavily medicated after her surgery that she didn’t understand that Hank was in trouble.

Hank kept telling her that everything was going to be just fine and that she should just focus on healing. It wasn’t until she spoke with her therapist, then saw the police dog in her kennel, that she knew that something was very, very wrong. 

Fuzzy Purple Hippo explained the entire series of events to Chief Thomas and K9 Blue, who confirm that her account matches the evidence found at the scene. **see evidence markers 5 and 6 in the crime scene photos from the last post** 

Hank and Fuzzy Purple Hippo have now waived their confidentiality agreements with their attorney and therapist, and both professionals have confirmed that their clients’ descriptions of the tragic event match, as well. The only discrepancy between the two stories is one which will forever boil down to a matter of he-said-she-said… Both Hank and the Fuzzy Purple Hippo are insisting that the other is the hero in the incident. She for her bravery, spirit, resiliency, and love, and Hank for his daring rescue, ingenuity, loyalty, and heart.

As soon as Hank was cleared of any wrongdoing, the best news of all – he (along with Fuzzy Purple Hippo) were adopted!

Purple Hippo
Hank, now cleared of all charges, along with Fuzzy Purple Hippo and their new forever family! Image via Fox Valley Humane Association/Facebook

Congratulations to Hank, Hippo, and their entire new family!

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  1. Avatar Of Peggy



    The person that wrote this has love in their heart and wants to pass it on…. I smelled you the whole thing thank you I needed that

  2. Avatar Of Trula



    This was the best yet! I loved the story. Congrats to the new family of Hank and his purple Hippo!! May your future be bright!

  3. Avatar Of Kathleen Mckenna

    Kathleen McKenna


    This was just adorable. Made me laugh out loud. I hope Hank and his purple friend are still doing well with their adoptive family. This was such a great idea.

  4. Avatar Of Colleen Colleen says:

    Lol Hank your a true hero what a great storyline this is so great to hear they got adopted woohoo wth Hank and purple.

  5. Avatar Of Michael Kelleher

    Michael Kelleher


    What a great story. I never doubted hid innocence for a moment.

  6. Avatar Of Debbie



    What an imagination!!!! I loved the story of Hank and his Hippo. I also agree that you should make it into a children's book of faith, love and companionship!! Great job!!

  7. Avatar Of Rebecca



    Brilliant way to assist Bank in finding his forever home! You're geniuses!

  8. Avatar Of Laurice



    I want to purchase the book and help the shelter. Keep us posted as to when and where we can do so.

  9. Avatar Of Green Girl

    Green girl


    Also, with new owners permission of course, maybe a couple of follow ups would be cute.
    Hank and purple Hippo new family, last one Hank and purple hippo new adventure.
    What do you think?

  10. Avatar Of Green Girl

    Green girl


    Agree with all that suggested this would make a great children's book to profit shelter. Whomever wrote this, 1 very clever,2, I know you have many more Hank & the purple Hippo stories in you. I loved it. Also very happy for Hank and his sneaky companion.

  11. Avatar Of Jen Engwer

    Jen Engwer


    This story was wonderfully creative! I wish more people would write pieces like this…❤

  12. Avatar Of Jan



    What a brilliant story is should definitely get published as a children's book I am in the UK and I know my grandchildren would certainly enjoy it. Make some much needed funds for your shelter.

  13. Avatar Of Kelly



    This is fabulous. It should be made into a children's book.
    What a marketing tool for Hank to. Well Done All

  14. Avatar Of Loreen



    Best love story ever!

  15. Avatar Of Kevin Iverson

    Kevin Iverson


    just a loving story and happy ending…

  16. Avatar Of Barb



    This should absolutely be turned into and published as a children's' book and sold to support the shelter!! It's such a great story & beautifully too!

  17. Avatar Of Jodi Jodi says:

    This was a great story! Super happy he and his gal found their fur ever home!

  18. Avatar Of Deb Stewart

    Deb stewart


    OMG hank is such a sweetie so happy he found a new home. I would of loved to take him but I live to far away, Australia actually.

  19. Avatar Of June



    Best news article I've read in a long time.

  20. Avatar Of Anne



    Great story. Happy he has a forever home with his buddy.

  21. Avatar Of Sidney



    It made me tear up to read that Hank was surrendered with his purple hippo toy, but the shelter had a lot of fun with it and Hank and his Hippo were both adopted by a wonderful home.

  22. Avatar Of Rebekkah



    What a great way to advertise adoptable pups. It made me want to adopt Hank and his girl. And kudos to the local police for assisting.

  23. Avatar Of Diane O'Neal

    Diane O'Neal


    this is terrific….agree with the suggestion this kind of story telling be incorporated into getting animals adopted…catches the eye and heart and next thing you know, there is a leash or a carrier in one's hand going out the door….

  24. Avatar Of Donna



    This story was delightful and kudos go to its author. Quite a journalistic feat!

  25. Avatar Of Mhairi Casey Mhairi casey says:

    Absolutely brill u should try get a magazine orbook published with animal adventures like that procedes funds for ur rescue i am sure people would buy the books to read to there children i would just a sugestion good luck havent smiled and laughed so much in ages.

  26. Avatar Of Mary H

    Mary H


    Thank you for making my day. What a great but yet hilarious story.

  27. Avatar Of Betty



    I had a cat who kidnapped a purple dragon puppet from my bedroom wall and took it everywhere with him for the rest of his 13+ years.

    • Avatar Of Barb



      I had a cat for 19 years who had a Pooh bear that my father had bought him. I did many "surgeries" on him over the years. When my cat died, I had the Pooh cremated with him.

  28. Avatar Of Nora Swanson Nora Swanson says:

    Brilliantly played! Congrats to all for such a happy ending to the Hippocaper!

  29. Avatar Of Deborah



    Great story. Would love to read more stories like this. Thank you.

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