APPLETON, Wis. - It started with an Instagram post on the Fox Valley Humane Association (FVHA) page.
The FVHA often uses social media to show animals available for adoption, but this one was a little different. The post featured a bonded pair: Hank, a 4-year-old Chocolate Lab/Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix, and his fuzzy purple hippo.
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From there, the humane association's creative team has kept the ball rolling with more hilarious posts involving Hank and the condition of his hippo friend. FVHA has added the posts to Facebook too for an even further reach.
“We are just raising awareness and doing it in a really fun and positive way," said Deb Lewis, Fox Valley Humane Association Executive Director.
Many people have already called asking about Hank, Lewis said. But with hundreds of shares on Facebook and likes on Instagram, the posts are helping all the pets at the FVHA.
"People are calling and saying well, do you have this type of animal?" Lewis said.
The posts have become more in-depth too, featuring Hank being "interrogated" and meeting with a "humane-officer appointed attorney." They're also starting to include other non-profits in their posts to raise awareness of more causes in the area.
"Social media has opened doors to us we never thought possible before," Lewis said.
More than 4,100 animals' lives have already been saved this year. Last year's number was 6,283, and Lewis expects them to surpass that by the end of 2017.
The live release rate for the Fox Valley Humane Association is 97%, an incredible number considering the amount of sick and injured pets it takes in each year.
Lewis credits the FVHA creative team's use of social media with helping to save more lives.
"It’s literally brought the humane society into people's living rooms, their offices, their cars," said Lewis. "It’s made opportunities available to us that we’ve never had before."
To continue following the story of Hank and his purple hippo, follow the Fox Valley Humane Association on Instagram or Facebook.