MILWAUKEE - Less than one month ago, he was wandering the streets of Phoenix. Now, he's officially a Milwaukee Brewer.
It was announced today that Hank, "The Ballpark Pup," will make the move north to Milwaukee this Sunday on a Southwest Airlines Charter flight, joining Brewers executives, sponsors and family members on the flight to Mitchell International Airport.
Dignitaries expected to be on hand for Hank's airport arrival include Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett.
From sun to snow, the next chapter of the pop culture icon begins this week.
"There are so many people who have been part of the 'Hank story;' fans, players and coaches, front office staff, media, and all of those in his circle of caregivers," said Brewers President of Baseball Operations and General Manager Doug Melvin. "We're grateful to have an opportunity to make Hank a permanent member of the Brewers family, but even more important, we're thrilled that he is going to a great family that will ensure that he is loved and comfortable in his new Wisconsin home."
Hank first appeared at camp on February 17, the day of the first workout for pitchers and catchers, and he immediately captured the hearts of everyone at Maryvale Baseball Park, as well as pet-lovers across the world. Stories on Hank appeared everywhere from the London Daily Mail to PEOPLE Magazine, and nearly every major national news and talk show across the United States. The interest in Milwaukee has surged, with "Hank Updates" appearing nearly every day in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and other media outlets.
"We want to thank all of those who have made the effort to give Hank the care he needed down here in Arizona, as the top priority has always been to put his health and happiness first," said Brewers Chief Operating Officer Rick Schlesinger. "In addition to this being a captivating story, our goal has been to shed more light on the issue of stray and homeless pets, a problem that is not unique to just Arizona and Wisconsin."
The Brewers have worked closely with the Arizona and Wisconsin Humane Societies since the day that Hank first wandered into camp, and their staff provided counsel on how best to care for Hank's basic needs as he adjusted to his new surroundings.
Hank made frequent appearances at Spring Training games in a concourse booth, where fans lined up for an opportunity to have their photo taken with Hank in exchange for a voluntary donation to the Humane Society. Through these and other opportunities, Hank has already helped raise thousands of dollars to support the cause.
"We are excited to welcome Hank as an official Milwaukee Brewer," said Wisconsin Humane Society President & CEO Anne Reed. "We are so grateful for the amazing care he has received, and for the way the players and the Brewers organization have used Hank's story to highlight the needs of homeless animals like him. More than 10,000 animals were adopted from the Wisconsin Humane Society in 2013 and it is that incredible support which makes Southeastern Wisconsin such a kind and compassionate place for animals like Hank. We know he'll love Milwaukee!"
As for Hank's new home, he has been permanently adopted by the family of a Milwaukee Brewers executive. To date, the Brewers alone have received more than 1,000 offers from others to adopt Hank and provide him with a stable "forever home." The offers have come from players, staff and countless fans and team corporate and philanthropic partners.
Fans can keep up with the latest news on Hank and tweet their welcome messages to the ballpark pup using the #BallparkPup hashtag.