PHOENIX -- Hank needs a doggie sweater. The Cactus League's most famous canine is moving to a permanent home in Wisconsin.
After winning legions of fans since showing up at Maryvale Baseball Park along with Brewers pitchers and catchers, the stray pup will move north to Milwaukee on Sunday. He will travel on a Southwest Airlines Charter flight with Brewers sponsors, family members and executives, one of whom is adopting Hank and taking him home.
The Brewers have decided to keep the identity of Hank's new mom private, but his arrival at Mitchell International Airport will be a very public event. Dignitaries expected to be on hand include Milwaukee County executive Chris Abele and Milwaukee mayor Tom Barrett.
"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," Brewers COO Rick Schlesinger said. "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."
To that end, Hank has appeared throughout the spring in a concourse booth at Maryvale Baseball Park, where fans lined up for an opportunity to snap a photo in exchange for a voluntary donation to the Humane Society. The club says Hank has helped raise thousands of dollars in his two weeks of appearances.
The Brewers say they received more than 1,000 offers to adopt Hank since he wandered into camp in rough shape on Feb. 17. A stadium employee took him to a veterinarian for basic care, and in the weeks that followed, Brewers and City of Phoenix staffers, including some players themselves, took turns caring for Hank overnight. He's been featured everywhere from MLB Network to People Magazine to USA Today. This week, Hank the Dog T-shirts went on sale in the team shop.
He's the hit of the Cactus League.
"Don't care if it's silly," D-backs pitcher Brandon McCarthy Tweeted on Friday. "It's a dog and baseball. I like both of those things. Hank the dog is awesome."
Don't care if it's silly. It's a dog and baseball. I like both of those things. Hank the dog is awesome.- Brandon McCarthy (@BMcCarthy32) March 14, 2014
Now he's set to make new friends up north.
"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," said Wisconsin Humane Society President and CEO Anne Reed. "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."