This week on Paw & Order: A toy hippopotamus was found nearly decapitated with a trail of cotton stuffing littered around its body.
The early evidence pointed to, Hank, a shelter dog waiting to be re-homed, as the likely culprit.
But was it a crime of passion or just a big misunderstanding between what was said to be bonded partners and BFFs?
For more on this whodunnit that has cute spotters in a tizzy, we go to Fox Valley Humane Association, a shelter in Appleton, Wisconsin.
It was there that volunteers found the fuzzy purple hippo disemboweled and in the grips of a "medical emergency."
The gruesome discovery was met with shock and horror but vets at the clinic leapt into action to save the purple plushie's life. Writing on Instagram, representatives of the FVHA shared this update:
"Dr. Laura is currently performing life-saving surgery to repair the near-decapitation. Details of the incident which caused the injury are murky, as Hank is refusing to answer our questions ... Please keep the Fuzzy Purple Hippo in your thoughts."
Though weakened by a substantial loss of stuffing, the hippo's surgery was a success and her condition stabilized. But to curb further damage, the plaything was fitted with an unwelcome accessory: the cone of shame.
Staffers at the shelter stoked public interest in the story with a steady stream of status reports:
"Fuzzy Purple Hippo is resting comfortably ... back in her kennel with Hank this morning. She is groggy from pain medication and her demeanor seems a bit flat, but we are hopeful for a full recovery. Dr. Laura decided to leave her wounds open to allow for drainage and perform a full stuffing extraction to avoid future surgery ... We will continue to keep you posted."
Meanwhile, the police turned their investigatory gaze to the 4-year-old chocolate lab. The heat was on, but Hank kept cool under his (dog) collar.
"Since yesterday's casual questioning brought no results, Hank was brought in for a formal interrogation into the assault of his companion, the Fuzzy Purple Hippo. As of 11:00am Hank's jowls remain firmly closed regarding the incident."
Because this is America, the doggo defendant was afforded his constitutional right to legal counsel. Mum, however, was the bark.
"Hank met with his Humane Officer-appointed Attorney this morning to discuss the allegations of Hippossault. Although no formal charges have been filed, there are no other suspects at this time. His attorney has advised him to plead the 5th."
As outside interest spiked, protestors assembled outside the shelter to show their support for the beleaguered defendant.
Stymied at every turn by the recalcitrance of this dog of interest, officials at FVHA recruited the town's top cop to crack the case.
"Chief [Todd] Thomas, of the Appleton Police Department, and K9 Blue (APD's Therapy Dog in-training) came to FVHA this afternoon to examine evidence found in Hank and the Fuzzy Purple Hippo's kennel ... A formal announcement from the chief has been scheduled for tomorrow morning."
And Chief Thomas surprised onlookers with an unexpected but adorable deputy: K9 Blue, a Therapy Dog in-training!
The duo went to work, scouring Hank's kennel for clues.
They quickly zeroed in on a solitary tuft of stuffing that was snagged high on the kennel's chain link fencing.
No one could say then and there what it meant — but it was to become a vital piece of evidence that tipped the scales of justice in Hank's favor.
At a presser the next day, Chief Thomas and Blue revealed that the alleged suspect was ACTUALLY A HERO AND VERY GOOD BOY.
Tempted by a box of treats visible on the other side of the room, you see, the hippo had scaled the fence — only to get caught at the top, where it was trapped and unable to move.
Pained by this sight, the loyal lab sprung into action:
"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."
According to the police, Hank stayed by her side "throughout the night until the staff arrived and Dr Laura could perform the life-saving surgery that she needed." For these actions, he was commended and fully exonerated.
And Hank's heroics did not go unnoticed by the public either. Moved by his brush with viral notoriety, a local family stepped in to write the perfect denouement to this sordid episode: adoption, for both Hank and his beloved stuffie!
"Now that the case has been closed, Hank has been cleared, and the Fuzzy Purple Hippo has made a full recovery, they are free to go....and we are thrilled to announce that they have just been released into the custody of a new family!!! Yes, they've been adopted!!"