Brewers say mascot Hank was not swapped, is same dog

Hoping to put an end to speculation that Hank, the Milwaukee Brewers' unofficial mascot, was swapped for another dog of the same breed, the team held a news conference Friday to assure the media and fans that it was indeed the same dog.

Side-by-side comparisons on blogs and on social media had called into question whether the current dog, a bichon frise mix who was found as a malnourished stray at the Brewers' spring training site two years ago and embraced by the team, was indeed the original.

Hank's appearance has changed in those two years, as his coat is now a healthy, white color.

Brewers chief operating officer Rick Schlesinger produced a notarized letter signed by veterinarian William S. Rice stating that the Lakeside Animal Hospital in Milwaukee, where Hank was originally brought to on April 1, 2014, had confirmed that the microchip implanted in the dog at the time matched the microchip found in the current dog.

Rice also said that the hospital took in dental records for the dog when he was neutered and those dental records matched the teeth of the dog presented as Hank.

"We couldn't ignore the dissimilarities, and while we all had a good laugh at the theory, we wanted to take the steps to reassure everyone through absolute proof that there was no Hank double," Schlesinger said. "Hank is part of the Brewers family, and if anything, the interest in today's story shows how one stray dog can capture the hearts of a community.

"Hank the ballpark pup is still Hank the ballpark pup. There is no substitute, he is the original, and we are thrilled he is still a part of the Brewers family."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.