13 years, $5M raised to save shelter dogs; Fort Worth’s canine mascot calls it a career

Did you know Fort Worth’s mascot was a black Labrador retriever named Henry? Well, he was for 13 years. The recently retired rover caught his last bone on the job at his retirement party on Feb. 17.

“You are, without a doubt, an exceptionally good boy.” according to a city announcement.

Henry raised almost $5 million dollars for expanding Chuck Silcox Animal Shelter and establishing a new one. Henry worked like a dog … literally.

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Not only did the canine raise money but he also raised awareness for the plight of animals in area shelters. Because of his story, shelters across Fort Worth dropped from a 70% euthanasia rate to 3%.

Henry could also be called the underdog. Not many people knew about the lab being Fort Worth’s mascot until his recent retirement.

“Did everyone besides myself know that Fort Worth had a mascot? I guess if I knew we had a mascot I’d have assumed it was a longhorn.” wrote a poster on a Fort Worth subreddit.

Regardless of his publicity, Henry has a full life. Through tail wags, raising money, and helping his puppy pals find homes, he has a story worth telling.

Fort Worth’s first ever spokespup

According to Dallas Morning News, Henry was picked out by Brandon Bennett, Fort Worth’s code compliance officer. Bennett did not pick the prettiest pup of the pack. Henry was malnourished battling many health issues. Regardless, Bennett chose him which serves as a symbol for the mascot’s future mission.

Henry’s hospital bills were $2,500. Bennett thought maybe tax payers could help? But there was no need. In no time, Henry was raising money like crazy — $2,500 felt like nothing compared to the $4.8 million he raised.

Bennett started by organizing dog play dates with wealthy donors. Henry’s personality was enough to convince people to donate. More donations were made through partnerships and sponsors.

Henry went everywhere he possibly could with Bennett.

”The whole idea is to put Henry out as much as we can in the public eye to show what we’re doing with the shelter,” Bennett said.

If you heard Henry’s rescue story, you’d be moved just seeing his life today. Henry cannot tell you to donate, his heart convinces you to.

Bennett recognized Henry’s calm nature. They thought why not bring Henry to elementary schools across the city? And that he did — blessing over 10,000 students by Henry’s wagging tail.

Henry made huge leaps for the Fort Worth animal shelter. He most importantly, raised awareness for pets in shelters. The expansion of the Chuck Silcox Animal Shelter will be a huge step towards lowering euthanasia rates. The extra space will provide proper care and more room for more animals.

“If you’re going to be a pet owner, make sure you come to the shelter as your first choice,” Bennet said.