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You may recall seeing the photo above making the rounds on social media. The photo, a selfie of musician Dan Tillery and his newly adopted dog, Diggy, quickly went viral after it was posted online, and it’s easy to see why – just look at those smiles, the smiles of two beings that have just found their very best friends.
Unfortunately, the viral photo attracted the attention of a few “concerned citizens” of Waterford Township, Michigan, where Dan and Diggy live, sparking a months long battle between the township and Tillery over whether the dog could stay.
Waterford Township has a ban on pit bulls. The township defines a pit bull as any dogs that “substantially conform to the breed standards established by the American Kennel Club” for American pit bull terriers, Staffordshire bull terriers, or American Staffordshire terriers.”
But Diggy isn’t a pit bull, even under the township’s official definition, and he’s got the paper’s to prove it.
Detroit Dog Rescue, who adopted Diggy out to Tillery, were careful in selecting his new adoptive dad. While he was a perfect match for the smiley pooch, the rescue made certain ahead of time that Diggy was all clear for his forever home in Waterford Township. They called the township in advance of the adoption to confirm that Diggy, an American Bulldog, was not part of the township’s pit bull ban.
As long as they had evidence from a veterinarian showing that Diggy was an American Bulldog, the rescue was told, Diggy could go home with Tillery. Detroit Dog Rescue and Tillery did everything right, including licensing Diggy with the township as an American Bulldog. All seemed to fall perfectly into place and Diggy was headed to his forever home.
That was, until the photo of the blissful new friends went viral. A few citizens of the township contacted local authorities. They thought Diggy looked like a pit bull. And, a loophole in the law very seriously threatened Diggy’s future. That loophole allows a police officer or animal control officer to take one look at a dog and make a “visual determination” about the dog’s breed. Police thought Diggy looked like a pit bull and issued an ordinance violation against Tillery.
On Tuesday, the months-long battle came to an end when Waterford Township courts dismissed the ordinance violation, allowing Diggy to stay – forever – with the family that loves him so much.